Mississippi voters dealt a huge blow to the national "personhood" campaign on Tuesday when they voted down a measure that would have granted legal rights to zygotes. Not to be discouraged, the director of Personhood Florida said he plans to continue the fight for fetal rights -- just like William Wilberforce fought to abolish the slave trade in 19th century England.
"He didn't win the first time or the second time, but he continued to fight until he ended slavery in England," Bryan Longworth told HuffPost in an interview. "Slavery is virtually ended around the world now. Where do you go to buy a good slave today? You can't get one. Why? Because people now see slavery as abhorrent, and one day people will see abortion as equally abhorrent if not more abhorrent."
Longworth's comments on Tuesday were not the first time the personhood movement has compared abortion to slavery. In an explanation of personhood on its website, Personhood Florida likens Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a woman's right to choose, to the infamous Dred Scott ruling that counted a former slave as three-fifths of a legal person.
"Just as the wicked Dred Scot decision ruled that African Americans were non-persons and could be property, so Roe v. Wade has declared that the pre-born are non-persons and are considered property," the group writes. "As Dred Scott was never 'overturned' but amended, that is what we are seeking to do: repent from the wicked decision of 9 people that brought death on our whole nation and amend our way, state by state, appealing to the people's hearts to simply establish the personhood of the pre-born."
While the campaign's comments may seem extreme, the personhood movement has garnered a substantial amount of support from powerful Republican lawmakers, including GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.
Loretta Ross, the founder of Sister Song Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, said the anti-abortion movement has been equating abortion to slavery for decades, but that the comparison is based on faulty logic.
"The problem with their whole framework is that civil rights, like all human rights, can only be claimed by people who are already born," she told HuffPost. "If they read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it says 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights' -- not 'are fertilized eggs.' They violate the whole concept of civil and human rights when they appropriate something and apply it in a way its not meant to be applied."
Ross said she has a problem with the personhood movement limiting the civil rights of living women in order to grant them to fetuses.
"Maybe a pregnant women should get two votes, or maybe she should lose her vote and the fetus should vote, since she's losing all her other civil rights," she said. "Maybe we should do a mandatory sonogram of the fetus to determine if it's Democrat or Republican? It's all ridiculous."