Personhood USA focuses legislative efforts on handful of states

Though Personhood USA has a reach into every state –- and has collected almost 1 million signatures supporting personhood legislation throughout the country -- the umbrella organization and its affiliates are currently throwing the most effort at Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa, Montana and Nebraska.

On Valentine’s Day, Personhood began a matching program and challenged supporters to help raise $50,000 to make $100,000 to push anti-abortion rights legislation in North Dakota, Montana, Iowa and Mississippi. Today is the last day of the challenge.

Mississippi is the biggest target, as it has a personhood amendment on the ballot that will get a vote in November. If passed, the constitutional amendment would effectively make abortion illegal.

The organization claims to have helped reduce the amount of days abortions can be performed in Mississippi (where there is currently only one surgical abortion facility, in Jackson) from six to two “killing days” a week, according to a newsletter from Personhood USA co-founder Keith Mason. The newsletter also notes that Mississippi is “a moral, conservative state" and the amendment has bipartisan support.

Amendment 26, as drafted by Personhood, reads: “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” However, the organization is quick to note that it does not condone cloning.

In order to get the proposed amendment on the ballot, the group was required by the state to collect 89,285 certified signatures from registered voters, but they collected more than 130,000 -- about 106,000 of those certified, according to Personhood Mississippi.

North Dakota is another major focus, where the state House recently passed the Defense of Human Life Act.

Jennifer Mason, communications director for Personhood USA, told The American Independent every affiliate has lawyers that help draft legislation that is then presented to state leaders. But it’s a tricky business.

“Legally speaking you can mess it up,” Mason said. “We try not to leave any children out, not to dehumanize any human being.”

She explained that Personhood is against legislation that gives provisions for women who have been raped, victims of incest or who might be endangered by carrying a baby to term.

She also noted that the organization does not condone the murder of abortion providers.

“We are absolutely opposed to violence, in or out of the wombs,” she said.