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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Wasserman Schultz 'sounding alarm' on personhood movement, rips Romney

3

November

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz tore into the movement to place "personhood" amendments on state ballots, including Florida, calling the effort "the most extreme assualt on a woman's right to choose in a generation."

Her Thursday comments come ahead of a decision by Mississippi voters on Proposition 26, an amendment that would deem any fertilized egg a person, on Tuesday. The Weston congresswoman said Democrats are watching a similar effort to gather signatures for a proposed constitutional amendment on Florida's 2012 ballot.

Getting the question on Florida's ballot would require 676,811 petitions. Senate President Mike Haridopolos has already signed a petition, his office confirmed last week.

"We're sounding the alarm bells now because it's absolutely critical that Floridians understand just how extreme this Personhood campaign is," said Wasserman Schultz, of Weston. "Even though we're a year away, and it's a 60 percent requirement for passage, we want to make sure that people are aware of this now so they don't sign the petition."

Brenda MacMenamin, Personhood Florida state coordinator, said her group has collected 20,000 signatures so far, about 50,000 short of the amount needed for a Supreme Court review for ballot access.

The drive is "hitting critical mass" with all of the attention on the personhood debate in recent months, which explains the strike from opponents like Wasserman Schultz, she said.

"They really do fear the growing movement and that really does validate what we're doing," she said.

Wasserman Schultz criticized Proposition 26 for its radical scope, as it would ban most methods of birth control, the "morning-after" pill, and IUDs, as well as abortion in cases of rape and incest. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suggested the proposal could have unintended consequences for families who rely on in vitro fertilization.

"As a mother, two of whose children were conceived through in vitro fertilization, I am outraged that anyone would block this procedure from prospective parents who definitely want to have children," she said.

She took aim at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. As a gubernatorial candidate, Romney assured abortion-rights activists that he would support a woman's right to choose, and that he could use his influence to bring a moderate's perspective against the GOP's hard-line anti-abortion stance, the Washington Post  reported Wednesday.

That's a different perspective to an answer he gave Mike Huckabee on his Fox news show in October, who asked if Romney would support a constitutional amendment that defined life with conception.

His reponse: "Absolutely."

Wassmerman Schultz is crying flip-flop.

"He now supports taking away the very rights and protections he once believed in -- or once said he believed in," she said.

Buzz has requested comment from the Romney campaign.

Update from Romney spokesman Ryan Williams: "It's disgraceful that President Obama and his allies are more focused on attacking our campaign than they are on attacking unemployment that has skyrocketed under his watch."

[Last modified: Friday, November 4, 2011 11:18am]

    

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