Women hold signs opposing Amendment 26 outside polls in Oxford, Miss. (Bruce Newman / AP/Oxford…)
A controversial Mississippi ballot measure that would have defined human life as beginning at fertilization was defeated Tuesday.
The so-called "personhood" initiative initially was seen as another test of abortion rights, one that supporters hoped might be the vehicle through which the U.S. Supreme Court would revisit the Roe vs. Wade decision.
But the full wording of the measure as it appeared on the ballot -- to define every human being as a person "from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof" -- gave even staunch abortion foes pause.
The state's Republican governor, Haley Barbour, told an interviewer last week that "the ambiguity of the wording is striking a lot of pro-life people here as concerning." He said Tuesday that he ultimately voted for it, but acknowledged it still faced a stiff fight.
As of 10:40 pm ET, 57% had voted to reject the measure, compared to 43% who supported it.
In addition to banning abortion in cases of rape or incest, critics and doctors warned, it could have banned some forms of birth control and made in vitro fertilization virtually impossible.
Similar proposed amendments were rejected by Colorado voters in 2008 and 2010. Supporters and opponents in Mississippi had said in recent days that they expected a close vote.
Richard Fausset contributed to this report.