California Anti-Abortion Personhood Measure Cleared

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A voter drops off an absentee ballot. (Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

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SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — Proponents of a measure that would ban abortions by giving equal rights to fetuses have been cleared to gather signatures in California, the secretary of state’s office said Friday.

The push comes on the heels of a similar effort rejected by voters in Mississippi earlier this month. Mississippi’s measure would have banned abortion, and could have deterred doctors from doing in vitro fertilization. It also could have made some birth control illegal.

Union City-based California Civil Rights Foundation must collect more than 807,000 signatures by April to qualify for the November 2012 ballot, the secretary of state’s office said.

The foundation’s president, Walter Hoye, is an Oakland pastor known for protesting outside abortion clinics. He said he launched a similar campaign in California in 2010, but it fell short of the required signatures.

“The more of this conversation that we have, the stronger the pro-life movement becomes,” Hoye said.

He said he is hoping for a spirited signature drive for the “California Human Rights Amendment.” Hoye declined to identify any major financial contributors.

Hoye’s group is not affiliated with Personhood USA, which sponsored the Mississippi initiative.

The California proposal would define a person as a living human being from the time of fertilization, giving embryos equal protection under the state Constitution.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office and Department of Finance said if voters adopted the initiative, the potential cost to the state could be in the tens of millions of dollars annually to establish due process and equal protection for “zygotes, embryos, and fetuses.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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