May 15, 2014 10:34:26 AM
JACKSON -- Mississippians will not vote on a new ballot initiative that would declare life begins at conception.
The sponsors of Initiative 41 missed a Wednesday deadline to submit petitions to get the proposal on the November 2015 ballot, said Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office. Because the petitions were not submitted, the initiative died.
The proposal would have been nearly identical to a ballot initiative that 58 percent of Mississippi voters rejected in November 2011.
Personhood USA and other abortion opponents started a new petition drive in spring 2013, saying they thought some voters were confused by what effect the 2011 initiative would have had on in-vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control. They had a year to gather signatures from at least 107,216 Mississippi registered voters.
Spokesmen for Personhood USA did not immediately return calls for comment, but an employee at the group's Washington office said Wednesday that organizers stopped trying to gather signatures in Mississippi months ago.
The Associated Press called circuit clerks in 12 of Mississippi's largest counties this past Friday, and workers in each office said no petitions had been submitted so signatures could be verified by checking lists of registered voters.
Felicia Brown-Williams, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said Wednesday that the new initiative, like the old one, "would have allowed the government to interfere in personal and complex health care decisions that are best made by women and families."
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