Missouri Personhood Amendment (2010)

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A Missouri Personhood Amendment did not appear on the 2010 state ballot in Missouri as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would have recognized the personhood of the unborn from the earliest stages of life. The amendment was part of a nationwide effort to place the measures on 2010 ballots.


Following the November 2, 2010 general elections 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."[1]

Text of measure


The official ballot title was certified on October 20, 2009. The ballot title read:[2]

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to define the term “person” to be from the beginning of biological development and grant such person constitutional rights and access to courts under the equal protection, due process, and open courts provisions of the Missouri Constitution?

Fiscal impact

According to the secretary of state's office, "Most state and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings. However, depending on the legal interpretation of the proposal, some state and local governmental entities may incur unknown costs related to court actions, program benefits for the unborn, health services to pregnant women, and the possible prohibition of certain research activities."


  • Eagle Forum, a conservative, pro-life interest group led by Phyllis Schlafly, publicly announced its opposition to the Missouri Personhood Amendment and personhood amendments in Florida, Nevada and Montana. On November 30, 2009, the group posted the following a statement on its website that read in part: "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."[3] The full statement can be found here.
  • Missouri Right to Life also expressed opposition, announcing in December 2009 that "the proposed amendment to the Missouri constitution would not stop a single abortion."[4] The group's online statement continued: "[I]f the amendment is meant to be a direct attack on Roe v. Wade, it is poorly advised. Direct attacks in law, as in war, lead to defeat if they are mounted in the wrong circumstances."
    • Pam Fichter, president of Missouri Right to Life, reiterated the group's position in a December 23, 2009, story at OneNewsNow.com: "[I]f the Personhood Amendment is meant to be a direct attack on Roe, it's not going to have any impact. ... Sometimes direct attacks can lead to defeat, and that can be pretty devastating."[5]
  • Gregory Thompson, sponsor of the Missouri Personhood Amendment, said on the December 25, 2009 broadcast of Bob Enyart Live that three other pro-life groups also opposed his amendment: the Missouri Catholic Conference; Concerned Women for America; and the Missouri Family Policy Council, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.[6]
  • On April 19, 2010, Missouri’s five Roman Catholic bishops issued a joint statement noting that "court rulings affirm that an unborn child is already considered a person under Missouri law." The bishops asked Missouri Catholics to support instead legislative efforts aimed at reducing the number of abortions in the state. The statement[7] read, in part:
"Through the Missouri Catholic Conference, and in our day-to-day ministry, we work tirelessly to promote human life from conception to natural death. This legislative session, the MCC is working to pass pro-life legislation strengthening Missouri’s informed consent laws, and assuring that abortion is not provided through the health insurance exchanges established under the new healthcare reform law."[7]


Opponents challenge measure

In November 2009 the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and several individuals filed a lawsuit in Missouri challenging the ballot measure on two grounds:[8]

  1. The lawsuit argued that the ballot title would mislead voters and did not disclose the possible impact of the measure. Supporters of the measure disagreed. Keith Mason of Personhood USA said, "the legal and constitutional 'fallout' of a Missouri Personhood amendment, is that all humans in the state of Missouri have human rights...All humans are people, and must be protected."[9] Since the ballot title was approved by the Missouri Secretary of State's office, the ballot title lawsuit was filed against that office.
  2. The lawsuit argued that the measure, as filed, violated Missouri's single-subject rule.[9]

Dr. Gregory Thompson
Personhood Missouri
P.O. Box 14560
Springfield, MO 65814
Phone: 417-894-5768

Path to the ballot

See also: Missouri signature requirements

To qualify for the ballot, the initiative required signatures from registered voters equal to 8% of the total votes cast in the 2008 governor's election from six of the state's nine congressional districts. Petition signatures are due by May 2, 2010.

According to a May 4, 2010, article on LifeNews.com, "Those spearheading the amendment in Missouri received 'only a fraction' of the 150,000 signatures required to get it before voters this Fall."[10]

Related measures

Personhood USA was tracking and supporting similar ballot initiatives in Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon and Montana.[11]

See also


External links

Additional reading