Personhood Amendments Fail to Qualify in Ohio, Elsewhere

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 3, 2012   |   7:23PM   |   Washington, DC

Backers of personhood amendments that supporters claim will bring about an end to abortion have failed to qualify for the November ballot in multiple states after sponsors failed to gather enough signatures. The inability to qualify the measures for ballots — after multiple ballot defeats in Colorado and a losing effort in Mississippi — may make some pro-life advocates question whether this is the best strategy to end abortion.

On Tuesday, Patrick Johnston, the director of Personhood Ohio, indicated his efforts to gather the 385,000 signatures required for the November ballot, came nowhere close to the goal needed.

“I did not get enough (signatures) in the mail today,” Johnston told AP, indicating he was only able to obtain about 30,000 signatures. “It’s going to take a little longer.”

Johnston said he would continue gathering signatures for an attempt to get on a future ballot in the state, but it appears leading pro-life groups in Ohio don’t think the amendment is the answer to ending abortion — as Ohio Right to Life is not involved and the Catholic Conference of Ohio is not encouraging petition signatures in its churches.

According to AP, personhood amendment efforts in other states fell short as well and Colorado may, again, be the only state to consider such an amendment.

“Supporters fell short of the required number of signatures to qualify for the November ballots in Nevada and California. And in Oklahoma, the state’s highest court halted an amendment effort there to grant personhood rights to human embryos, saying the measure was unconstitutional,” AP reported. “Organizers say personhood amendments have a good chance to qualify for the fall ballot again in Colorado. The state has a lower threshold of required signatures than Ohio. About 86,000 signatures are needed by early August in Colorado.”

In addition, pro-life advocates in the state of Montana say amendment backers there also did not receive enough signatures to get amendment Cl-108 on the ballot in the Treasure State. In order to include Cl-108 on the ballot, personhood proponents needed to gather 10 percent of the state’s voters’ signatures, or approximately 48,674 signatures. Of these signatures, 40 of the 100 districts in the state had to be represented with at least 10 percent of voters from each of the districts signing.

Virginia personhood amendment backers also did not get enough signatures to qualify for the November 2012 ballot. Meanwhile, 14 state legislatures introduced 26 personhood measures in 2011, though none of them have become law.



The amendments seek to define life under state law as beginning at the moment of fertilization. Although no truly pro-life group opposes the concept of personhood for unborn children, including LifeNews, most top pro-life legal experts say they will not have the effect of ending abortion and would likely be overturned in court or upheld as merely a statement of position that has no bearing on abortion’s legality.

For any amendment or abortion ban to be upheld in court and provide legal protection for unborn children, most pro-life groups believe changing the Supreme Court is necessary first as the high court currently has a, at best, 5-4 pro-abortion majority.