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Buddy Hairston, 39, took his 8-year-old triplets to a precinct outside Jackson to hold signs supporting the initiative.

“Unborn children are being killed on a daily basis in our state and country, and it’s urgent that we protect them,” said Hairston, a forestry consultant.

Mississippi already has tough abortion regulations and only one clinic where the procedures are performed, making it a fitting venue for a national movement to get abortion bans into state constitutions.

The state’s largest Christian denomination, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, backed the proposal through its lobbying arm, the Christian Action Commission.

“We mourn with heaven tonight over the loss of Initiative 26, which would have provided the hope of life for thousands of God’s unborn babies in Mississippi,” said the commission’s director, the Rev. Jimmy Porter. “Instead the unborn in Mississippi will continue to be led down on a path of destruction to horrible deaths both inside their mothers and in laboratories.”

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the Mississippi bishop of the United Methodist Church opposed the initiative.

Bishop Joseph Latino of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, a church traditionally against abortion, issued a statement neither supporting nor opposing the initiative. The Mississippi State Medical Association took a similar step, while other medical groups opposed it.