For liberals, one of the few bright spots of this week's election was the resounding defeat of two so-called "personhood" ballot initiatives, which would have extended constitutional rights to embryos.
As ThinkProgress's Tara Culp-Ressler explained:
In Colorado, Amendment 67—which sought to update the state’s criminal code to define fetuses as children—failed by a large 64 percent to 36 percent margin. It marks the third time that Colorado voters have rejected personhood.
Meanwhile, in North Dakota, an effort to overhaul the state’s constitution to protect “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development” looked like it was poised to pass. Personhood proponents were hopeful that the conservative state would hand them their first major victory, galvanizing the push for similarly restrictive laws in other states. But Amendment 1 was defeated by similarly wide margins as the initiative in Colorado.
This is a familiar story by now. In 2011, voters in ultra-red Mississippi faced a personhood measure which would have virtually outlawed all abortions—and rejected it with an overwhelming majority. In all, the pro-life movement has pushed for such "personhood" bills five times since 2008, and all five have failed.
This trouncing might seem unusual given the overall winning streak anti-abortion activists have been on. Between 2011 and 2013, states passed more abortion restrictions than in the three previous decades combined, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
With pro-lifers seemingly on a roll, what explains the pushback against personhood?