Unborn Personhood Amendment Makes Colorado Ballot

Daily News Article   —   Posted on May 30, 2008

(by Randy Hall, CNSNews.com) – An amendment to the Colorado Constitution that defines a “person” as “any human being from the moment of fertilization” will go before state voters in the Nov. 4 general election.

Amendment 48, entitled “Definition of a Person,” was approved for a statewide vote on Thursday by Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, whose office validated 103,000 signatures on petitions for the ballot initiative — 27,000 more than required.

The petition drive — which actually collected 130,050 signatures — originated with 20-year-old Kristi Burton, who said in a news release that she developed a deep passion for the pro-life movement at 13 years of age.

“All humans should be protected by love and by law, and this amendment is a historic effort to ensure equal rights for every person,” Burton noted in her statement.

“We at Colorado for Equal Rights are incredibly thankful for our many volunteers who worked so hard for each signature we delivered to the secretary of state’s office and the churches who stood behind us and supported us,” she added. “This victory is the voice of the people, and all credit goes to our Creator.”

If approved by voters next fall, the amendment would guarantee every person, at every stage of life, the right to life, liberty, equality of justice and due process of law, Burton said. And while the initiative would not make abortion illegal, supporters and opponents alike believe it could lay the legal framework to legislate against abortion.

“For the first time in 40 years of ‘legalized’ child killing, pro-lifers have moved an entire state to consider the God-given right to life of the unborn,” said Brian Rohrbough, president of American Right to Life, in a statement of his own on Thursday.

“Abortion is wrong because it’s a baby; it’s always wrong to intentionally kill a baby,” said Rohrbough, “even when its father is a criminal, as with incest.”

Now that the amendment is assured of a spot on the November ballot, American Right to Life has launched its Colorado personhood campaign with a rebuttal to so-called “hard cases” of abortion for incest.

“The abortion clinic covers up the crime of incest and typically sends the victim back home to her rapist,” the group’s Web site states. “Even worse, they often send her home with her rapist, the criminal who brought her to the clinic.”

“There are no ‘hard cases,'” said Steve Curtis, American Right to Life’s vice president and former chair of the Colorado Republican Party. “Abortion for incest emboldens a criminal to rape his young relative, helps him escape being caught, tempts him to repeat his crime and is not compassionate because it kills a baby and increases the woman’s suffering.”

“Abortion clinics nationwide refuse to comply with mandatory reporting laws for suspected child rape,” noted Jo Scott, director of the group Pro-Life Colorado.

“We brought audio-taped evidence of that failure to the Colorado attorney general’s office, and they chose to look the other way,” Scott said. “Personhood for the unborn will reduce crimes against women and children.”

“American Right to Life applauds the dozens of Colorado politicians and candidates who have publicly endorsed the personhood amendment,” Rohrbough added, “and urges all Christians, pro-life leaders and organizations to support personhood as the only foundation on which to reverse the de-criminalization of killing unborn children.”

However, opponents — including a “broad-based coalition including nurses, doctors, religious leaders, community groups and health-care advocacy organizations” called Protect Families, Protect Choices — have claimed that the amendment is “dangerous and deceptive.”

“Access to affordable health care is already tough enough for Colorado families,” the organization’s Web site states. “But now a deceptively written ballot measure would put women’s lives at risk and threaten access to health care.

“This amendment could make abortion illegal at all times, even in the earliest weeks of pregnancy,” the site adds. “It could outlaw abortion even in the cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is at risk.”

The ballot initiative is “a dangerous attempt to put politicians and lawyers in the middle of our most personal and private health-care decisions,” the coalition adds. “It would even open the door to letting prosecutors investigate miscarriages and go through our most private medical records.

“The amendment is so extreme that it could even ban several common forms of birth control and prohibit in-vitro fertilization and life-saving stem cell research,” says the coalition, which includes the League of Women Voters and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Despite such firm opposition, Colorado for Equal Rights remains confident the initiative will pass in November.

“This amendment will establish a cornerstone for protecting human life in our society … and we all know this is the right thing to do,” the group said in a statement of its own.

“We are giving Colorado voters an opportunity to vote their conscience and protect the most innocent and helpless ones among us,” the organization added. “If life is protected from the very beginning, Colorado for Equal Rights believes that we can transform our nation from a culture of death into a culture of life.”

All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2008 Cybercast News Service. Reprinted here with permission from CNSNews. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.

Questions

1. a) What is the title of Amendment 48?
b) What will Amendment 48 do if voted into the Colorado Constitution in the November election? (see paragraphs 1 and 6)

2. a) How does the group American Right to Life rebut the argument that abortion needs to be available to all for “hard cases” when a girl is pregnant due to incest?
b) Do you agree with ARL’s assertions? Explain your answer.

3. a) Why does the pro-abortion group Protect Families, Protect Choices oppose Amendment 48?
b) Do you think they make a valid argument? Explain your answer.

4. Read about the Initiative and Referendum process under “Background” below.
Then read more about ballot measures (initiatives and referendums) at the Initiative and Referendum website iandrinstitute.org/Quick%20Fact%20-%20What%20is%20I&R.htm
And view of map of the types of ballot measures states have at http://www.iandrinstitute.org/statewide_i%26r.htm.
What type of initiative process does Colorado have? What type does your state have?

5. In a statement made by Colorado for Equal Rights the group said:
“This amendment will establish a cornerstone for protecting human life in our society … and we all know this is the right thing to do. We are giving Colorado voters an opportunity to vote their conscience and protect the most innocent and helpless ones among us. If life is protected from the very beginning, Colorado for Equal Rights believes that we can transform our nation from a culture of death into a culture of life.”
Do you agree with Colorado for Equal Rights? Explain your answer.

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Background

INITIATIVES AND REFERENDUMS:

  • Anything that appears on a ballot other than a candidate for office is called a ballot measure.  Ballot measures are broken down into two distinct categories – initiatives and referendums.
  • Initiatives – when the citizens, collecting signatures on a petition, place advisory questions, memorials, statutes or constitutional amendments on the ballot for the citizens to adopt or reject. 
  • Twenty-four states have the initiative process. 
  • In many of the same states the citizens have the referendum process – the ability to reject laws or amendments proposed by the state legislature.

Resources

Read more about the Amendment at coloradoforequalrights.com.

Visit the websites for pro-life americanrighttolife.org.

Visit the website for the pro-abortion group at protectfamiliesprotectchoice.org.