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November 8, 2011

Mississippi Voters Reject Extreme Anti-Choice Measure

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised the coalition of faith leaders, reproductive-justice and pro-choice allies, and other Mississippi-based groups that, in the face of a tough environment, successfully convinced their neighbors to reject Initiative 26, an anti-choice constitutional amendment.

"We salute the voters in Mississippi who stood up for the fundamental American values of freedom and privacy. We especially applaud those women and men who volunteered in their communities to tell their neighbors about Initiative 26’s intrusion into the private medical decisions of women in Mississippi,” Keenan said. “The message from Mississippi is clear: An amendment that allows politicians to further interfere in our personal, private medical decisions, including a woman’s right to choose safe, legal abortion, is unacceptable. We will build on the momentum in Mississippi to fight similar attacks on choice that will be on state ballots in 2012.”

Initiative 26 is based on the anti-choice “personhood” strategy. The “personhood” definition is so extreme that it would ban abortion care without exception: even in cases of rape or incest, and even when a woman's life or health is in danger. In addition, it could outlaw common forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization.

Voters in Colorado twice rejected similar measures in 2008 and 2010. Keenan said the anti-choice groups behind Initiative 26 are pushing similar ballot measures for 2012 in Florida, Ohio, Montana, California, Oregon, and Nevada.

“After losing by nearly 40 points twice in Colorado, the ‘personhood’ campaign picked a state that already has some of the most hostile anti-choice laws in the country, yet they lost again,” Keenan said. “Americans who value freedom and privacy should not see this pro-choice win from Mississippi as a reason to think we don’t face other challenges. Other states are likely to see similar measures in 2012. Now is the time to start talking with friends and family members about our pro-choice values and the importance of supporting candidates who share these values and defeating measures like Initiative 26 that undermine them.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America mobilized its member activists in Mississippi, including phone banks held in partnership with other pro-choice organizations. The group also launched a nationwide public-education campaign through its 500,000-strong email list and social media on the threats of “personhood” measures.

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