Petitioning for personhood


If you ask Rick Jore, it’s scientific fact that human life begins the moment the male sperm crashes into the outer layer of the female egg. At that point, says Jore, you have a person.

“The point is,” says the former state representative from Ronan, “that once you’re dealing with a person, that person has due process protection. No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law.”

On May 15, Jore submitted a ballot initiative to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to amend the Montana State Constitution to ensure that an unborn fetus has the same rights as the rest of us. The measure, dubbed “The Personhood Amendment,” requires the signatures of 10 percent of the state’s voters, including 10 percent of voters in each of the state’s 40 legislative districts—or 48,674 signatures total—to be placed on the ballot. Jore has until June 18, 2010, to collect all the John Hancocks.

This isn’t Jore’s first effort to introduce a pro-life constitutional amendment. He’s failed with similar ballot initiatives and legislative efforts during the last few legislative sessions.

But if Jore succeeds, the initiative would provide a stepping-stone for anti-abortion legislation that, according to Montana ProLife Coalition President Annie Bukacek, “has some teeth to it.”

“It’s a threat to the kind of care that we feel is important for women to have access to beyond, of course, abortion,” says Anita Kuennen, executive director of the Blue Mountain Clinic. “It has implications for everything from contraceptive care, to pre-natal, to in vitro fertilization, to a pretty broad level of issues.”

For example, Kuennen notes, many birth control pills work in two ways: They prevent conception, but also scuff the uterine wall to prevent the fertilized egg from connecting to it.

“It could very well have implications for many methods of birth control,” Kuennen says. “It’s going to take a lot of resources to get out and challenge this, and unfortunately the resources should go to something more productive.”

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