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· June 22, 2012

Ohio’s Personhood campaign appears unlikely to make the 2012 ballot

Disorganization and a backlash against extreme proposals to ban abortion appear to have doomed efforts to place an anti-abortion measure before Ohio voters in November. Despite a string of failed attempts in other states, the so-called personhood movement began collecting the roughly 350,000 signatures needed to make this year’s Ohio ballot. It seeks to ban abortions by amending the Ohio Constitution to state life begins when a human egg is fertilized. If approved, a fertilized egg would have all of the legal and constitutional rights as a person, and there would be no exemptions for rape or incest. As the July signature deadline approaches, Personhood Ohio has just over 20,000 signatures, reports the AP’s Ann Sanner. Still, Patrick Johnston, who leads the Ohio campaign, held out some hope that the needed signatures would materialize. “I don’t know what I’m going to get the last week of this month, but it needs to be a ton to get it by July 4,” he told the AP. The group can keep collecting signatures and try and qualify for the 2013 election. The Ohio campaign never had momentum and Johnston was criticized early on for making false statements. PolitiFact, a fact-checking service by Ohio journalists, gave him a “pants-on-fire” rating, for saying abortion is the most common surgery in America. He made the comment in January. Opponents organized as Healthy Families Ohio, a bi-partisan collation of medical professionals, faith leaders, community groups and health advocacy organizations who argued that the measure would jeopardize the lives and health of women. In Ohio, like in other states, the proposal failed to win support from some traditional anti-abortion groups including Ohio Right to Life and the Catholic bishops. Voters in the conservative state of Mississippi bucked pre-election polls and defeated personhood last year. Colorado voters twice defeated a personhood proposal.

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