(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Mississippi is in the national spotlight Tuesday as voters there cast their ballots on the controversial “personhood” measure and a voting provision that has spurred national debate.
Initiative 26 is a citizen-led measure that defines human life as starting at “the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” The measure will likely be challenged in court, if it passes, and could set the precedent for abortion laws in the rest of the country.
The measure would restrict certain birth control methods and in-vitro fertilization treatment, and would ban all abortion.
Abortion rights activists charge that the initiative is the biggest assault on women’s rights to date.
Anti-abortionists have been mixed on the issue. Most believe that human life begins at conception and support allowing it in the case of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is in danger. This provision takes the definition much farther, and some conservative groups are concerned that, if it’s taken up by the Supreme Court, it would hamper their ability to overturn Roe v. Wade by shifting the discussion.
Lines were forming early, according to local reports, as the national debate over Initiative 26 continued to brew. Election officials predicted a higher-than-expected turnout -- an anomaly for an off-year election -- if the morning’s figures remained steady.
Mississippians will also vote on another ballot measure that requires people to submit government-sponsored photo ID before being allowed to vote. The measure is backed by Republicans who say it will stop election fraud. Democrats, however, have blasted the initiative, saying it will reduce voter turnout.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, labor unions and the White House are closely monitoring a ballot measure there that attempts to cut back collective bargaining rights for union workers and could affect hundreds of thousands of public employees.
Issue 2 would eliminate public employees’ right to collectively bargain for health insurance and pensions, bar them from striking -- workers would pay a price from their paycheck if they do so -- and curb promotions based on seniority. It would also increase health care costs for workers.
Employees would have to pay at least 15 percent of their health care premiums and allocate 10 percent of their salary for pensions.
It goes one step farther than the controversial Wisconsin measure -- which was the first to curb rights for union workers -- by including police and firefighters.
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