Sponsors of the personhood amendment in Colorado are hoping to to get the measure passed on the statewide ballot again after failing to do so twice before and, as some pro-life activists say, causing pro-life candidates to lose at the polls.
Although such amendments have little chance of banning any abortions without first changing the makeup of the Supreme Court, and even though Colorado voters defeated the first two attempts by wide margins, Personhood Colorado has filed signatures for a new personhood amendment with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.
Colorado rejected the amendment twice in both 2010 and 2008. The 2010 amendment lost by a 70-30 percentage point margin as Amendment 62 failed to gain a majority in any Colorado county. Colorado voters defeated Amendment 48 in 2008 by a 73-27 percentage margin with 1,605,978 voters rejecting it compared to 585,561 who were supportive. The 2010 Colorado personhood amendment received the support of more than 100,000 fewer voters than in 2008.
The new Colorado amendment also follows the defeat, last year, of a similar amendment in Mississippi, considered to be one of the most pro-life states in the nation. Some observers say they doubt a personhood amendment would be approved in most other states if Mississippi voters rejected one.
Still, Personhood Colorado submitted signatures to the Secretary of State’s office today for the Colorado Personhood Amendment. The signatures submitted totaled 112,121, more than the 86,105 that were required, and all signatures are pending validation by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. Once the signatures are verified by the Colorado Secretary of State, the amendment will be placed on the 2012 ballot and put to a vote. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has until September 5th to verify the validity of the signatures.
Rosalinda Lozano, Amendment Sponsor, said signature gathering was delayed by a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood.
The proposed amendment states “(1) Purpose. In order to affirm basic human dignity, be it resolved that the right to life in this constitution applies equally to all innocent persons. (2) Effect. The intentional killing of any innocent person is prohibited.” The amendment goes on to detail the effects that the amendment will have on issues such as birth control, in vitro fertilization, medical treatment for the mother, and miscarriage.
The amendments would have defined unborn children as persons under the law starting at the point of conception and sponsors claim it would, if upheld, essentially prohibit abortions in the state. However, top pro-life attorneys and organizations said they didn’t expect the amendment to be upheld in court and they say, even if it does survive a legal challenge, the amendment likely won’t ban any abortions.
During the 2008 and 2010 amendments, major pro-life groups including Focus on the Family, the state’s Catholic bishops, Colorado Citizens for Life, National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Eagle Forum, and others either took a neutral position on the amendment or supported it but did not expend significant time or resources fighting for it because of the potential negative legal ramifications. Some pro-life groups indicated Colorado taxpayers could be stuck with the legal bills for Planned Parenthood if the abortion business wins a legal challenge against it.
The same groups will likely be expected to stay on the sidelines again as the focus on the greater pro-life goal of ending abortions by defeating pro-abortion President Barack Obama and installing a pro-life president in the White House who could change the makeup of the Supreme Court enough to allow for legal protection for unborn children.
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After the 2010 defeat of the Colorado amendment, abortion advocates used the defeat of the measure to tout a repudiation of the pro-life movement.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Monica McCafferty told The Colorado Independent, “Tonight’s victory sends a strong message that Colorado is a pro-choice state.”
Some pro-life advocates say the personhood amendment also contributed to the potential defeat of pro-life Senate candidate Ken Buck and the election of pro-abortion Sen. Michael Bennet.
Buck endorsed the amendment, but was pummeled by millions of dollars in television commercials making the false claim that he opposed birth control and contraception because of his stance on it. The Republican eventually had to withdraw his support for the amendment so his position would not be misconstrued. After he withdrew his support, personhood amendment supporters ravaged Buck and criticized him as supposedly casting aside his heartfelt pro-life views.