Mississippi voters have rejected a controversial move to define life as beginning at the moment of conception. Critics argued that amendment 26, the so-called Personhood amendment, would have effectively outlawed abortion and many forms of birth control, and could have re-opened the national debate about abortion that was to some extent settled with Roe v Wade.
The amendment sought to have any form of fertilized egg protected. This would have prevented not only abortions, but also post-fertilization birth control. In vitro fertilization could also have bene threatened, because the process often involves the creation and then destruction of eggs in a laboratory.
Proponents of the amendment insists, however, that they will keep fighting for their cause. Similar votes are expected to take place in Florida, Montana and Ohio in 2012. But even some anti-abortion activists have warned that the amendment was so strict, it could have backfired and led to a Supreme Court ruling that would have strengthened Roe v Wade and ultimately diminished the anti-abortion crusade.