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Florida Personhood Amendment (2012)

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A Florida Personhood Amendment did not make the November 6, 2012 state ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure proposed recognizing the personhood of the unborn from the earliest stages of life.[1][2]

The measure was filed in 2009 but failed to collect sufficient signatures for the 2010 ballot. Florida however, has a rolling signature deadline with a four-year window within which signatures may be collected. According to reports in late 2010, supporters were collecting signatures to qualify the measure for the 2012 ballot.[2] The petition was not submitted to the Florida Secretary of State by the 2012 deadline so it will not appear on the ballot.

According to reports, the measure's supporters started a 2 year effort in January of 2012 to get the amendment on the 2014 ballot.[3]

Text of measure

Petition language

In December of 2011, the group changed the text of the petition requiring that they start gathering signatures again from zero.[4]

Approved current petition language reads:[5]

SECTION 28. Person Defined: (a)The rights of every person shall be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. The right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person. (b)With respect to the fundamental and inalienable rights of all persons guaranteed in this Constitution, the word 'person' applies to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency, including unborn children at every stage of their biological development regardless of the method of creation. (c)This amendment shall take effect on the first day of the next regular legislative session occurring after voter approval of this amendment.

Old petition language reads:[6][7]

SECTION 28. Person Defined: (a)The words "person" and "natural person" apply to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, health, function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of biological development of that human being. (b)This amendment shall take effect on the first day of the next regular legislative session occurring after voter approval of this amendment.

Support

The amendment is supported by Personhood Florida (PF) and was part of a nationwide effort to place the measures on ballots throughout the country. The Florida effort is also supported by American Life League. In the second week of January, the initiative received an endorsement from Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council.[8]

Opposition

Eagle Forum, a conservative, pro-life interest group led by Phyllis Schlafly, publicly announced its opposition to the Florida Personhood Amendment and personhood amendments in Nevada, Missouri and Montana. On November 30, 2009, the group posted the following statement on its website[9]:

The ‘personhood’ initiative lost by a landslide of 73% to 27% in Colorado in 2008, and its unpopular coattails hurt good pro-life candidates there. This poorly designed initiative would not prevent a single abortion even it if became law, and its vague language would enable more mischief by judges.

Now its organizers, who provide little information about themselves or their funding, spread their disaster to key swing states like Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Montana. This hurtful effort misleads pro-lifers with the false hope that a referendum can overturn Roe v. Wade, when only the U.S. Supreme Court can do that. This enriches pro-abortion groups with a fundraising issue as they claim to preserve abortion by suing to stop this initiative, and they have already filed several lawsuits.

Florida's Catholic Bishops recently banned the collection of any signatures for this ill-advised initiative at churches there, and most pro-life groups also oppose this initiative. We encourage support of pro-life candidates, and oppose hurtful gimmicks like the personhood initiative.
  • Steven Ertelt, founder and editor of LifeNews.com, a Christian anti-abortion news site, wrote in a December 21, 2010, article on RedState.com that, "In order to defeat Obama and ultimately stop abortions, personhood amendments must be put aside in 2012 so the pro-life community can focus on the number one goal: installing a pro-life president who will put the nation in a position to legally protect unborn children. ... Without putting amendments aside and putting the focus on the 2012 elections, abortion on demand could remain in place for another 37 years."[10]

Path to the ballot

See also: Florida signature requirements

In order to qualify for the 2012 ballot supporters are required to collect a minimum of 676,811 valid signatures.[2] The petition was not submitted to the Florida Secretary of State by the deadline.[11]

In late November 2010 news articles reported the possibility of the measure being referred to the ballot via the state legislature. In order to qualify the measure via the legislature, it would required the approval of a minimum of 60% in the both the House and the Senate. However, that possibility remains unknown.[12]

In early November 2011 reports indicated that supporters had collected an estimated 20,000 signatures.[13] However, in December the group had to start the signature gathering process over after changing the text of the petition.[4]

Related measures

Personhood USA was tracking and supporting similar ballot initiatives in Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon and Montana for 2010 elections.[14]

See also

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