The supporters of the personhood amendment in Colorado are back with another attempt to get voters in the state that first legalized abortion to approve a statewide amendment they claim will stop abortions.
However, the latest version of the Colorado personhood amendment will not stop abortions and will not protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violence. As I’ll explain, there is little chance it will be approved and no chance it will be upheld in court.
While no one who is truly pro-life disagrees that unborn children are human beings, or persons, starting at conception/fertilization who deserve legal protection from abortion, the amendment will almost assuredly be defeated at the polls and it will be immediately overturned in court.
It’s highly unlikely that Amendment 67, or the Brady Amendment, will be approved at the polls because Colorado voters have made it very clear they are opposed to a personhood amendment and subsequent campaigns — spending hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have gone to other pro-life efforts to save babies from abortion — have not convinced them otherwise.
In 2008, a wave Democratic election year that saw the election of pro-abortion President Barack Obama (who ironically began his general election campaign in Colorado), the personhood amendment received just 27 percent of the vote. Amendment supporters tried again in 2010 and it failed by a similarly lopsided margin. Though 2010 was a banner year for Republicans, it received just 29 percent. The 2010 elections saw a 7 percent Republican shift from 2008, but the amendment only gained two percent — meaning it actually lost ground and underperformed in 2010 compared to how it should have performed given the increase in turnout of conservative voters.
Amendment backers tried again in 2012 to get the personhood amendment on the ballot in 2012 but, by then, after two landslide defeats, even veteran pro-life activists began to see that the amendment stood no chance of being approved. Organizers failed to get enough signatures to get the amendment to qualify.
In order to make the 2014 ballot, personhood amendment backers changed the wording of the ballot and embarked on a completely different campaign in order to get it approved. They began billing the amendment not as an abortion ban but as an unborn victims bill of the kind that pro-life groups have pushed for decades to protect pregnant women and unborn children from acts of violence.
Amendment supporters began trumpeting the case of Heather Surovik, who supported the amendment after a repeat drunk driver killed her unborn son named Brady in a tragic automobile accident, just days before he was due to be born. Unlike the laws of most states, Colorado does not have an Unborn Victims measure that allows prosecutors to bring two charges for two crimes when a criminal is responsible for killing both mother and child in a violent crime. Current Colorado law only allows for one charge for the crime against the mother while the unborn baby is unfairly not considered a second victim — even though the assault or murder may have taken the baby’s life or injured him or her in the process.
If Amendment 67 were an Unborn Victims measure, it would receive ubiquitous support from the pro-life community.
The pro-life movement has always supported Unborn Victims bills which provide protection and justice for unborn children who are killed in crimes outside the context of abortion. This includes cases when pregnant moms are assaulted and the unborn baby is killed or injured as a result. Although these laws do not ban abortions, they provide justice for unborn children by ensuring they are second victims and that criminals are charged for second, separate crimes for killing or injuring the baby that are distinct from the charges related to killing or injuring the mother.
But Amendment 67 is not one of those laws. The Congressional version of the law that President George W. Bush signed and the state versions of those laws that are currently on the books and have been upheld repeatedly in court specifically exempt abortion so they can allow for prosecuting criminals who kills unborn babies outside of the circumstance of abortion and not run afoul of Roe v. Wade.
Amendment 67 doesn’t do that. And because Amendment 67 doesn’t do that, it is an abortion ban by making it so that in ANY case in which an unborn baby is killed (e.g. abortion), that action is a criminal action. In other words, it is functionally no different from prior incarnations of the personhood amendment voters have twice defeated.
Not only is Amendment 67 an abortion ban rather than an Unborn Victims bill that protects pregnant women and unborn children, the way the amendment is worded means that anyone who is responsible for killing an unborn baby can be held criminally responsible. Since that is not limited to the assailant in an assault or the abortion practitioner, that opens up women themselves for prosecution.
Under the Brady Amendment, women could be charged with getting abortions — something even its sponsors appear to admit. The pro-life movement has historically charged only abortion practitioners for doing abortions and has understood that women are second victims of an abortion industry that lies to them and manipulates them. Yet Amendment 67 puts the pro-life movement on the record saying women should go to jail for having abortions and the Brady Amendment would jail women for having abortions since they are not exempted in the amendment’s language.
Now, the emphasis on little Brady and the terrible case of what happened to him is likely to garner the amendment more support at the polls. That, combined with the fact that this election is shaping up to be another Republican wave election, and the way in which pro-abortion Senator Mark Udall’s aggressive attacks on pro-life Senate candidate Cory Gardner related to birth control have backfired, the personhood amendment will likely fare somewhat better this time than it has in the past.
But considering the fact that the official group pushing the Amendment in Colorado has raised and spent merely thousands of dollars to support it, it would be hard to imagine the amendment coming close to 50%.
Yet, even if Amendment 67, or the Brady Amendment, were miraculously approved at the polls, it is dead on arrival in court.
As I laid out extensively three years ago when Mississippi, the most pro-life state in the nation, couldn’t muster enough votes to approve the amendment, the Supreme Court has already ruled on the legality of abortion and the court remains pro-abortion. Until the makeup of the Supreme Court is changed, there is no chance that it will be upheld and save even a single baby from abortion.
And, as I explain in that article, even if the personhood amendment is upheld there is no guarantee that it will have any effect at all on the legality of abortion. Even pro-life Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that Missouri’s amendment was nothing more than a statement of position that had no bearing on banning abortions or even limiting them in any way.
Once Amendment 67 is overturned in court as going against Roe v. Wade, there is also a chance pro-life people will be stuck paying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of our taxpayer dollars in legal bills for Planned Parenthood’s attorneys once the state loses its case.
For pro-life people who truly want to protect unborn children from abortion, there is only one method of ending abortions and legally protecting unborn children. Changing the Supreme Court via changing the presidency and makeup of the Senate is the only politically plausible avenue to ban abortions and the only objective pro-life advocates should be focusing on this election. When the Supreme Court has a majority ready to overturn Roe, then and only then will it be possible to promote abortion bans that have the ability to truly ban abortions.
Until then, we must continue passing laws to stop as many abortions as possible, until we can ban abortion outright. Doing so has stopped a massive number of abortions. States like Mississippi, Michigan, South Carolina and Missouri have seen abortions cut in half thanks to these laws. Other states like Ohio, Wisconsin and others have seen abortions drop to record lows because pro-life laws have been passed and clinics closed.