BISMARCK, N.D. (BP)--The defeat of a personhood initiative in Colorado last November did little to stop what is becoming a nationwide movement, with seven states considering bills or initiatives that would provide legal protection to all persons from the moment of conception.
The bills and initiatives are unique in that none of them reference abortion, even though all of them take aim at the legal reasoning behind the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling.
"Establishing personhood closes what we call the hole in Roe vs. Wade."
-- Keith Mason, Personhood USA
The latest victory for the movement came Feb. 17 in North Dakota, where the state House passed a bill, 51-41, that says for the purposes of interpreting state law, "a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens." No state legislature had ever passed a personhood bill. Montana's Senate Judiciary Committee considered Feb. 19 a bill that says a person is "a human being at all stages of human development of life, including the state of fertilization or conception."
Pro-lifers in Mississippi -- one of the nation's most pro-life states -- are expected to begin a personhood petition drive soon. A drive already has begun in Oregon.
Legislators in Maryland, Alabama and South Carolina also are sponsoring personhood bills.
The new movement comes months after Colorado Amendment 48, which would have defined a person as "any human being from the moment of conception," failed at the ballot, 73-27 percent. It was the first time in the nation's history that voters considered a personhood law.
Keith Mason, who helped lead the pro-Amendment 48 campaign, said it was a bad year for a pro-life initiative to be on the Colorado ballot, particularly with a Democratic tide sweeping through a somewhat left-leaning state. Read More