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Fact Sheet: Mitt Romney Supports Dangerous “Personhood” Amendments Like the One a Court Just Struck Down in Oklahoma

Contact: PPAF Media Office; 212-261-4420
For Immediate Release: 05.01.12

So-called “personhood” legislation is another example of government going too far. By defining a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, so-called “personhood” measures could allow the government to intrude into the private doctor-patient relationship, and could criminalize everything from common forms of birth control to IVF. 

So-called “personhood” amendments are so far out of the mainstream, they have even been rejected by voters in Mississippi – the most conservative state according to Gallup – by a 16-point margin.

Mitt Romney has strongly supported “personhood” measures since they were introduced several years ago. His position is clear and far outside the mainstream as well as a serious threat to women’s health. 

MITT ROMNEY FAR OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM ON “PERSONHOOD”; HAS SUPPORTED THE MEASURE IN BOTH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS

Romney Came Out In Support Of Personhood Amendment, Positioning Himself To The Right Of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. Romney was asked if he would support of a dangerous proposal, commonly called a “personhood amendment,” that could potentially ban common forms of contraception like the birth control pill, as well as prevent a pregnant woman experiencing complications that threaten her life or health to obtain safe abortion care. Said Romney, “absolutely.” [Concord Monitor11/9/11]

In a 2007 interview, Romney Said He Supported Personhood Amendments. 
In 2007, Romney was interviewed on Good Morning America and asked about a plank in the Republican platform that would include fertilized eggs in the definition of a "person" under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Romney was asked, “Do you support that part of the Republican platform?”, to which he responded, “You know, I do support the Republican platform, and I support that being part of the Republican platform, and I'm pro-life.” [Huffington Post, 11/21/11]

Romney’s “Political Perspective” In 2007: Life Begins At Conception. Romney: “I believe from a … political perspective that life begins at conception…. I don't pretend to know, if you will, from a theological standpoint when life begins.” [NBC Meet the Press, 12/16/07]

In 2011, Romney “Absolutely” Supported Personhood Amendments
. In 2011, Mike Huckabee asked Mitt Romney on his Fox News show, “Would you have supported the constitutional amendment that would have established the definition of life at conception?” Replied Romney, “Absolutely.” [ABC News, 11/3/11]

Romney “Supportive of Efforts” Directed at Personhood. 
When asked about Romney’s affirmative response to Huckabee on personhood amendments, Romney’s Communications Director Ryan Williams said Romney was “supportive of efforts to recognize life begins at conception”. The Mississsippi personhood amendment was formally titled the “Life Begins at the Moment of Fertilization Amendment”. [The Lobby NH, 11/10/11; WJTV.com, accessed12/21/11]

PERSONHOOD GROUPS VIEW ROMNEY AS A SUPPORTER

Romney Meets Personhood USA’s Criteria for Support. Jennifer Mason, Communications Director for Personhood USA said, “I believe so,” when asked if supporters of personhood included people like Romney who believe “life begins at conception” and also support expanding the definition of a person under the 14th Amendment. [Huffington Post, 11/21/11]

Personhood USA: Amending Constitution to Establish Life at Conception Is “Ultimate Goal”. Asked if appropriate changes with respect to the definition of a person in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would constitute “personhood" at the federal level, Mason said:"A federal personhood amendment is our ultimate goal… In fact that is what we are hoping for.” [Huffington Post, 11/21/11]

PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT REJECTED IN MISSISSIPPI; TOO EXTREME FOR GOV. HALEY BARBOUR


In 2011, Extreme Personhood Measure Rejected By 16 Points in Mississippi. In November 2011, the extreme personhood ballot initiative 26 was rejected by Mississippi voters by a 16-point margin, 58 percent against to 42 percent in favor. [Clarion Leger11/9/11]


Gov. Haley Barbour Said Personhood Consequences Made Him Uncomfortable. “The measure divided the medical and religious communities and caused some of the most ardent abortion opponents, including Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, to waver with their support…. ‘Some very strongly pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity and about the actual consequences — whether there are unforeseen, unintended consequences. And I'll have to say that I have heard those concerns and they give me some pause,” said Barbour. Those consequences could have included banning some forms of birth control. [CBS News, 11/8/11]


Conservative Analysts Called Personhood “Bad Policy”.Conservative anti-choice analyst Ed Rogers wrote, “the Mississippi ‘personhood’ initiative on the ballot today is a good example of why good bumper stickers can make bad policy. Republicans love the concise phrase ’life begins at conception.’… [N]ow we have to deal with the real consequences, intended and unintended, of the personhood movement achieving a legal foothold and being emboldened to take this issue to other states.” [Washington Post,11/08/11]


NATIONAL EDITORIALS URGE DEFEAT OF 2011 MISSISSIPPI PERSONHOOD MEASURE

New York Times: “A ballot measure going before voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8 would define the term ‘person’ in the State Constitution to include fertilized human eggs and grant to fertilized eggs the legal rights and protections that apply to people. It is among the most extreme assaults in the push to end women's reproductive rights… Besides outlawing all abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest or when a woman's life is in danger, and banning any contraception that may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, including birth control pills, the amendment carries many implications, some quite serious. It could curtail medical research involving embryos, shutter fertility clinics and put doctors in legal jeopardy for providing needed medical care that might endanger a pregnancy. Pregnant women also could become subject to criminal prosecution. A fertilized egg might be eligible to inherit money or be counted when drawing voting districts by population. Because a multitude of laws use the terms '’person’' or ’'people,’' there would be no shortage of unintended consequences… This extreme measure would protect zygotes at the expense of all women while creating a legal quagmire -- at least until the courts rule it unconstitutional, as they should.” [New York Times10/28/11]


Washington Post“Many of the abortion-rights advocates battling these efforts point out that personhood laws would not only make abortion illegal, they could also ban IUDs, emergency contraception and other hormonal forms of birth control… The world that personhood proponents envision is one not only where abortion is illegal and birth control nearly impossible to obtain, but where pregnant women could be denied their legal rights.” [Washington Post10/28/11]

Newark Star-Ledger“But regardless of one's stance on abortion, the law is a dangerous idea. It could land women's health, family planning, even basic biology in the already-full hands of the criminal justice system. And that's not where they belong.” [Star-Ledger10/26/11]

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.