WASHINGTON -- The failure of the "personhood" initiative in Mississippi on Tuesday intensified what appears to be a growing divide in the anti-abortion movement.
Some backers of the initiative, which aimed to make abortion illegal by defining a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, are pointing fingers at major anti-abortion groups that stood on the sidelines during the Mississippi debate.
"What you have is a few organizations that are moving in the wrong direction on the issue of life," said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a leading conservative law firm that provided advice to the initiative's sponsors.
Staver said he blames Americans United for Life (AUL) and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) -- two of the nation's largest and most established anti-abortion groups -- for an "impasse" in the movement that contributed to a loss at the polls.
"The split is not good," Staver said of the divide between more established groups and more confrontational groups that backed Personhood. "They want to be too conservative, too cautious. We need to move forward with a direct challenge to Roe (v. Wade)."