Personhood on the ballot

I love Colorado. It’s a wonderful beautiful place to call home.

But I am so saddened that we will be actually voting this fall on whether personhood is achieved at the moment of conception.

Today, Colorado’s secretary of state confimed that the proposed amendment to the state constitution defining a fertilized human egg as a person has enough petition signatures to get on the November ballot.

Great. Awesome. It makes me sick.

I’ve pasted below the frequently asked questions about the amendment, via the Protect Families, Protect Choice’s Web site. It is a broad-based coalition opposing the legislation.

I just thought I would share with you all this lovely bit of news. And I’m still trying not to freak about what is or isn’t happening inside me. Eek.

Q. What does this initiative say?

A. Title: An amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law.

Language of the Initiative: Section 1. Article II of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended by the addition of a new section to read: “Section 31: Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the terms ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization.”

Q. What will this initiative do?

A. This amendment would permanently alter Colorado’s constitution in a way that could jeopardize women’s health and lay the legal foundation for government interference in our personal, private medical decisions. The amendment would redefine the term “person” and grant constitutional rights from the moment of fertilization.

Q. How could this amendment jeopardize women’s health?

A. If this amendment passes, the Colorado Constitution could be used to deny medical treatment to a pregnant woman for a disease or condition – like cancer — if the treatment might harm the fetus.

This amendment also would lay a legal foundation to outlaw all abortions in Colorado, even in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, in cases of rape or incest, or when the life or health of the woman is at risk.

Colorado would have a constitutional provision that could ban several of the most effective forms of birth control – like the Pill, IUDs, the Patch and the Ring.

Q. How does this amendment allow government interference in our personal lives?

A. The wording of this amendment is unclear and open to interpretation by the courts and politicians. If passed, this amendment could establish a legal basis for the government to investigate a woman and her doctor for a miscarriage, medical care provided during high-risk pregnancies that fail, or for any action that may unintentionally harm a fetus.

This amendment also would create a legal foundation for the government to subpoena our medical records to investigate what kinds of birth control we use or to interfere with medical care for infertility.

Q. Can the governor or Colorado’s legislature repeal this if it passes?

A. No. Because this is a constitutional amendment, neither the governor nor the legislature can repeal it. Amending the Colorado Constitution should not be taken lightly.

Q. Who opposes this initiative?

A. The Protect Families Protect Choice Coalition, which opposes this ballot initiative, is a broad-based coalition comprised of health care, religious and women’s groups. Member organizations include: Colorado League of Women Voters, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, and many others.

Q. Doesn’t this initiative just clarify language in the constitution?

A. No; this amendment sounds simple but has far-reaching implications. In fact, it’s so vaguely worded that its true effect is difficult to predict. We know, however, that there are bound to be unintended consequences. Changing the legal definition of “person” in the constitution could affect everything from birth control to stem cell research to inheritance rights.

Q. What are the sections of the constitution that are affected?

A. The affected sections are:

Article II, Section 3. Inalienable Rights. All persons, including any human beings from the moment of fertilization, have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Article II, Section 6. Equality of Justice. Courts of justice shall be open to every person, including any human being from the moment of fertilization, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, including any human being from the moment of fertilization, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.

Article II, Section 25. Due Process of Law. No person, including any human being from the moment of fertilization, shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.

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11 Responses to “Personhood on the ballot”

  1. all4moi Says:

    I guess the real question is – can you claim these “persons” on your tax return? I would think you’d get to claim all your frozen emb-babies too! This is horrible…

  2. sara Says:

    Yikes, that definitely makes you stop and go, huh? Thanks so much for the good wishes, I hope you’re doing well also!

  3. Kymberli Says:

    This is so hypocritical that I don’t even know where to begin. By preserving the rights of hypothetical persons (and I say that in the lightest and most delicate of senses), they want to infringe upon the rights and freedoms of *existing* persons. I truly hope this doesn’t come to pass in CO.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    Are they planning to give out death certificates every time somebody experiences a pregnancy loss? Or when an IVF or FET cycle fails? Why can’t we just deal with the fact that there is a lot of gray area around when life begins and just live with that? Ugh…I really don’t like this.

  5. Spicy Sister Says:

    It also makes me wonder what would happen to IVF in CO if this were passed. I know that my sister who would rabidly support this measure feels VERY strongly against IVF – I could see it becoming very difficult for clinics such as CCRM to operate in this political climate.

    This is just so sad on so many levels.

  6. mrsyak Says:

    I think ARTS would survive, we did our IVF through a lab/hospital with religious affiliation…we had to sign custody agreements for our embryos.

    Mamawannabe – do you know what the intent of law is, or what got this all started? Was it abortion? Just curious…

    Maybe they won’t do birth certificates anymore, and hand out conception certificates instead?

    If this were to pass, it might help establish rights of biological parents when it comes to surrogacy. But on the flip, it could be bad for egg donation.

    Hmm, lots to think about for sure.

  7. antigone Says:

    It won’t pass. If it does, I’m moving on principle.

  8. Phoebe Says:

    Thanks for posting this. It wouldn’t be the first time Colorado has tried to pass something unconstitutional.

    I don’t see how IVF would be possible in Colorado if this passes. How depressing!

  9. Duck Says:

    Wow, they talked about something like that up here in Canada a while back, the reason they wanted a bill like that here was so that they could prosecute someone who attacked a pregnant woman, right now if a pregnant woman was attacked, and they killed the developing embryo, there is no legal consequence. (as you and I know, that pregnancy could have been incredibly difficult and expensive to achieve). So I was for the law if it could have been restricted to that sense only, as I’m still pro-choice.

  10. Denise Says:

    I’m with Antigone. I will move on principle if it passes. Doesn’t matter how much I love Colorado, I can’t live in a place that would pass and enforce a constitutional law like that.

  11. MamaSoon Says:

    Yikes! Not good news in many cases.

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