‘Personhood’ amendment cleared to circulate

The proponent of a proposed “personhood” constitutional amendment much like the one Mississippi voters rejected this month has been cleared to start collecting signatures in California.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said proponent Walter B. Hoye II, 55, of Union City, has until April 16 to collect valid signatures from at least 807,615 registered California voters in order to qualify the measure for next November’s ballot.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

CONSTITUTIONAL DEFINITION OF A PERSON. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Defines “person” as including all living human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human organisms, for purposes of state constitutional protections of due process and equal protection. Eliminates state constitutional protections of due process and equal protection for non-biological entities, such as corporations. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Costs from the establishment of due process and equal protection rights for zygotes, embryos, and fetuses, potentially in the tens of millions of dollars annually. (11-0041)

Hoye is founder and president of the Union City-based California Civil Rights Foundation, which opposes abortion rights. He fell short of collecting enough signatures for a similar measure in 2010.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.