Feminist Majority Leads Campaign to Defeat Anti-Woman Ballot Initiatives

Statement of Eleanor Smeal, President

Feminist Majority launched a campaign today to build a war chest to help defeat anti-abortion ballot measures that may be placed on as many as ten state ballots in November and affirmative action ban initiatives on five.

Anti-abortion extremists are gathering signatures to place measures on the ballots of Colorado, Montana, and possibly Georgia, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Michigan and Oregon as well. These so-called “personhood initiatives” declare that a fertilized egg is a “person” who enjoys “inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of the law.” Such measures threaten not only abortion itself, but IUDs, emergency contraception, and in vitro fertilization clinics.

A new group from Illinois, Stop Forced Abortion, is seeking to place an initiative on the November ballot in Missouri that would require doctors to extensively review any so-called “medical literature” on abortion and investigate each patient’s background and lifestyle. It also would require doctors to certify that the abortion was necessary to avoid a woman’s death or prevent permanent disability. The proposal would subject doctors to lawsuits from women who later regretted their decision to terminate a pregnancy, and would offer no exception whatsoever for the victims of rape or incest.

In California, for the third time, the anti-abortion movement is pushing to place a parental notification initiative on the November ballot. A similar measure was defeated in California in the 2004 and 2006 elections. In South Dakota extremists are attempting to put on the ballot an abortion ban, slightly modified from a similar measure defeated in 2006.

Affirmative action opponent Ward Connerly is leading efforts to qualify ballot measures in five states (MO, CO, AZ, NE, and OK) that would ban affirmative action for women and people of color in public education, public employment, and public contracting. An identical measure was approved in California in 1996 and it is wrecking havoc on educational opportunities for African Americans and Latinos, as well as dramatically reducing opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses to win state contracts.