Colorado Personhood Amendment Fails to Qualify for Third Vote

State   Steven Ertelt   Aug 29, 2012   |   1:36PM    Washington, DC

The third time will not be the charm for the Colorado personhood amendment, which has gone down to two lopsided defeats in previous votes. Supporters of the amendment failed to garner enough signatures to get on the ballot, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.

Although such amendments have little chance of banning any abortions without first changing the makeup of the Supreme Court, Personhood Colorado filed signatures for a new personhood amendment with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office earlier this month. The amendment fell 3,859 signatures short of the requirement and will not be on the November ballot.

The signatures submitted totaled 112,121, more than the 86,105 that were required, but the state has to validate the signatures and more than enough were declared invalid.

The Colorado Personhood Coalition has announced plans to challenge the state’s determination on valid signatures. The group claims entire petitions were discarded despite valid signatures and valid affidavits. State law 1-40-118 C.R.S. allows 30 days to file a protest and the group informs LifeNews it has engaged election law specialist Shayne Madsen of the Jackson Kelly law firm.

“The law states that we have 30 days to file a challenge, and we fully intend to do so. Based on the Secretary of State’s 5% sample, we are have calculated that we will be able to recover the signatures necessary to appear on the ballot,” explained Gualberto Garcia Jones of the group. “This disqualification is by an extremely narrow number, and as we have seen thousands of valid voter signatures discarded unnecessarily, we will be filing a challenge to ensure that every Colorado voter’s voice is heard, and that every signature counts.”

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.

A vote would have followed 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.

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.

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.”

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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.