On November 4, Colorado residents will have to decide whether or not to change their criminal code to include an “unborn human being” in the definition of a “person.” Proponents of the measure, dubbed “Amendment 67,” say that the goal of the initiative is to protect pregnant women, but opponents say it’s nothing more than a veiled attempt to ban abortion in Colorado.

This isn’t Colorado conservatives’ first attempt at adding personhood protections for the unborn to state law; similar initiatives have failed twice before. However, this amendment works differently in that it changes its approach in defining the amendment’s scope of protection.

colorado personhood

Via the Washington Post:

Earlier versions defined a fetus as a person from the moment of fertilization, or from the moment of biological development. In both cases, abortion rights activists convinced voters to reject the measures, which they said would have limited a woman’s right to choose.

This version, though, would allow prosecutors to bring charges against someone who commits a crime against a fetus. Proponents are going out of their way to insist that the measure has nothing to do with abortion, and some abortion rights advocates think the simplicity of the measure is cause for concern.

“Amendment 67 corrects the loophole in Colorado law and ensures that those criminals can be charged with killing a child in many different scenarios, whereas previous personhood amendments didn’t address the criminal code,” said Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman with PersonhoodUSA, the group backing the amendment.

This video, via Politico, offers interesting perspectives from both sides of the issue:

I’m of two minds about personhood amendments in general, and I don’t think this approach conflicts with my pro-life beliefs. On one hand, it seems reasonable to say that people who break the law and destroy a life—born or unborn—should have to answer for their crimes. On the other hand, I don’t believe that a lateral attack on the right to seek an abortion is a productive way to end abortion in America.

In the video, Aya Gruber points out that this amendment is overly broad, and I tend agree with her. If this amendment passes, it will redefine entire sections of the Colorado Criminal Code with no apparent exceptions. In fact, it’s so broad, part of me thinks it’s deliberately broad.

The entire thing is asking for a constitutional challenge, which may or may not be the goal of its authors, and the beginning of the battle to finally ask the Supreme Court to pinpoint the moment when life begins, as a matter of law. With both Planned Parenthood and Personhood USA locked in a lopsided messaging battle (Planned Parenthood is decidedly more well-funded in their effort to kill the amendment) it’s unlikely that the vote on Amendment 67 will serve as a definitive referendum on the issue.

If the amendment passes, though, things could get very interesting in the courts very quickly.