"Personhood" Ballot Measure Fails to Qualify in Montana
By Lindsay Love, communications manager, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana
Friday was the deadline to collect signatures to qualify a “personhood” ballot initiative for the November election in Montana. With an official total of 23,512 signatures (less than half of the 48,674 needed), voters in Montana rejected this extreme and dangerous measure being pushed by out-of-state opponents of women’s health.
The initiative, which would have redefined “personhood” as beginning at fertilization, could have had dangerous consequences, including banning abortion —with no exceptions for rape and incest — and blocking common forms of birth control, including the pill and IUDs. It would have produced many legal uncertainties and could trigger government investigations of miscarriage. If passed into law, it could even prevent the lifesaving treatment of pregnant women with cancer. But thanks to months of work educating voters on the severity of the proposed law, Montanans thought carefully about the unintended consequences before rejecting this dangerous measure.
Let’s remember, of course, that “personhood” has failed everywhere it has come to the voters — twice in Colorado by overwhelming margins and most recently in conservative Mississippi by 16 points.
So, how’d it happen? In 2012, volunteers made over 10,000 calls to voters, mailed over 50,000 postcards, and organized 100 new volunteers for Primary Day voter education in June. We could haven’t done it without the hard work and dedication of volunteers who spent their time passing out literature, making phone calls, and letting voters know the truth about this measure.
“Personhood” may have been defeated in Montana for now, but supporters of this measure are undeterred in their commitment to push similar initiatives on ballots in states across the country. That’s why now more than ever, women need to watch and educate voters on these dangerous attacks on women’s health.