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Colorado votes on “personhood” (again)

Colorado votes on “personhood” (again)

Is this amendment a veiled attempt at criminalizing abortion?

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.


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I think it’s so sad that we have to have this conversation over and over again. I wish we could put as much energy into raising happy, healthy kids as we do trying to terminate them.

    JerryB in reply to JoAnne. | October 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I think “this conversation” should be front and center as long as we’re murdering kids. As for the legislation, I’m not sure about extending “personhood” to the unborn. I suspect it will give rise to many unintended consequences. Will moms someday be arrested for having a drink, for example? Just make child killing illegal. Period.

      n.n in reply to JerryB. | October 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      We already have child endangerment laws. This covers non-lethal forms of injuring or otherwise harming a child (i.e. under age 18). These are statutory laws in both federal and state jurisdictions. The only discrepancy is in the unequal application of these laws.

Human life evolves from conception to death. This is neither a mystery nor an article of faith, and should be wholly uncontroversial. For some reason, after accepting evolutionary creationism, it is difficult for people to acknowledge the evolutionary (i.e. chaotic) process and principles. There is no equivalence between conception (i.e. source) and natural, accidental, or premeditated death (i.e. sink).

Ironically, Roe v. Wade was decided with a faith-based argument under the “religion” clause of the First Amendment. The privacy granted to women is for a sincerely held faith (i.e. spontaneous conception) exercised in an abortion clinic. This faith forms the foundation of a religion, which granted women an exclusive right to commit or contract for abortion/murder of a wholly innocent human life. The federal government effectively established a religion. A religion which not only tolerates but normalizes human sacrifice.

Make life, not abortion.

    JerryB in reply to n.n. | October 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Just a semantic issue: humans “develop,” not “evolve.”

      No, human life evolves from conception to death. Evolution is a chaotic process which describes the physical process. The physical process should be distinguished from philosophical (e.g. evolutionary creationism) and scientific (e.g. evolutionary principles) theories. Develop is a social construct with a progressive (i.e. monotonic) connotation.

        Ragspierre in reply to n.n. | October 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm

        Sorry, dude. You’re just wrong.

        Consult a biology text.

        “Development” is the proper term, as used in science.

          Evolution is a chaotic process which characterizes the physical process. Development characterizes a process which is similar but not equivalent to evolution, with a social connotation.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | October 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm

          Yeah. I read where you said that before.

          You are wrong. Find a biology text, animal husbandry text, or a book on embryonic medicine.

      n.n in reply to JerryB. | October 11, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Well, I have another motive to distinguish between social constructs and physical processes. I have observed a progressive shift from the scientific domain (i.e. constrained frame of reference in time and space) to a universal (e.g. evolutionary creationism) and extra-universal (e.g. atheism) domain.

      The departure from the scientific domain has lead to the corruption and impediment of scientific understanding. In the same manner and for the same reason as when traditional faith (e.g. Catholicism) exploited the scientific and universal and extra-universal domains, and with the same consequences. This is counterproductive to understanding and exploiting the physical world in order to improve the human condition.

      In the case of abortion, this “faith” or rather ego has sponsored the confusion and created a controversy about when life “begins”, leading to the premeditated termination of around 2 million human lives annually in America alone.

      JerryB in reply to JerryB. | October 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      To add: I think the word evolve plays into the hands of those who want to kill the unborn. They desperately seek some way to exclude a fetus, and even an infant, from being the same as the rest of us. Evolve has the connotation of becoming while not necessarily being the same. On the other hand, develop implies being the same.

    filiusdextris in reply to n.n. | October 12, 2014 at 9:54 am

    While I agree with your pro life message, where on earth do you get that Roe v. Wade is about the faith-based clauses of the First Amendment? The First is only mentioned once in Roe, yes as a protector of privacy, but only when referencing Stanley v. Georgia and its speech-related right for obscenity privacy.

There’s nothing “veiled” about it.

    Ragspierre in reply to tom swift. | October 11, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Jonah Goldberg:

    I’m coming to the position that every issue is a cultural issue. According to the Thomas Frank view, there are two kinds of issues: real issues and cultural (or social) issues. And, if he had his way, all elections would hinge on “real issues.” He writes in What’s the Matter with Kansas: “People getting their fundamental interests wrong is what American political life is all about. This species of derangement is the bedrock of our civic order; it is the foundation on which all else rests.”

    This is of course, warmed-over Marxist twaddle. Frank thinks his view of economic interests is the only defensible view and everything else is boob bait for bubbas (Pat Moynihan’s orthodox liberal ad hominem for Clinton’s push for welfare reform) or what the Marxists call “false consciousness.” Much like Lena Dunham’s sex scenes, the list of things that are wrong with this is very long. People vote on the kind of community or country they want to live in, period. That means that taxes are a legitimate issue, but it also means that guns and abortion and free speech are just as legitimate. Liberals implicitly understand this, even if they lie about it routinely in their rhetoric. They are the first to invoke the language of values and right-and-wrong on the issues they care about, whether it is gay marriage or immigration or civil rights. And they are entirely right to do so. Where they are wrong is when they employ the language of “real issues” to dismiss any value-laden arguments that help conservatives win elections.

I thought the measure of a government was in protecting the weakest and most helpless. This is most true of the fetus.

Even the Supreme Court noted in Roe v Wade the state had an interest in the unborn.

Further, I thought the rallying cry for the liberals was the extension of freedom and rights for all.

    n.n in reply to Dr P. | October 11, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    A human life from conception to birth is not only weak and helpless, but uniquely vulnerable. It doesn’t have a face to evoke empathy. It does not have a voice to protest. It does not have arms for its self-defense.

YES! All the “small government” types will get the BIG GOVERNMENT to enforce their religious superstitions. Tell me, small govt types, will a woman that has a miscarriage be arrested? Can you call “child protective services” if you see a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette? Shouldn’t all forms of CONTRACEPTION be banned since it is against “gawds will”? Are you going to join with the socialist party to further intrude on the FREEDOM of the non-biblethumpers?

    Ragspierre in reply to Fiftycaltx. | October 11, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Find a place that will at least tolerate your lunatic, hateful rantings.

    This ain’t it.

    Religion is not superstition, it is not an article of faith. Religion is a philosophy of morality. It can be judged on its principles separate from its philosopher. Claims of universal or extra-universal origin (i.e. articles of faith) can neither be confirmed nor rejected in the scientific domain. You’ll have to wait for your post-mortem or a divine intervention.

    Everyone has a religion. There is no pretense of separation of religion and state. In fact, the legalization of abortion was argued as a religious exemption under the First Amendment. The privacy aspect follows from exercising a sincerely held faith in the privacy of an abortion clinic. The state effectively established not only a religion but an official faith with Roe v. Wade, which defies the self-evident process of human life from conception to natural, accidental, or premeditated death.

    This forum is for grown ups.

      Fiftycaltx in reply to JoAnne. | October 12, 2014 at 9:25 am

      I notice that no one would answer the QUESTIONS I posed about your new law. Will a woman that has a miscarriage be arrested and charged with murder? Can you call “child protective services” if you see a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette? Aren’t both examples “harming a person” under this fairy tale “law”?

        Ragspierre in reply to Fiftycaltx. | October 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

        Because you “questions” are too stupid to bother with, ya moron.

        JoAnne in reply to Fiftycaltx. | October 12, 2014 at 2:00 pm

        We don’t converse with people who are so disrespectful. If you want a debate, try doing it without the sarcasm and the contempt you displayed with your first post. Otherwise go find some other place to start your dog fight. It won’t happen here.

Even if this passes (highly unlikely) it will not pass muster with the Colorado Supreme Court. Even if this assessment is wrong, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and that’s not going to change any time soon. Gone are the days when the States decide social issues and the courts give due deference to the voice of voters.

    InEssence in reply to joanbob. | October 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I agree with you; the Colorado Supreme Court always tries to rule on the side of evil and nonsense. If anyone doubts that, they only need to look at some of the rulings.

quiksilverz24 | October 11, 2014 at 6:49 pm

I’ll admit, I’m pro-choice. We each have the ability to make choices. But with choice comes responsibility. If you make a choice to jump in bed with someone, you have a responsibility if the result is a pregnancy.

Money, sex, and ego will overcome any pretense of morality. Hope and Dreams of instant or immediate gratification will vote for that outcome.

Dissociation of risk is the opiate of the masses and elites.

“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.”

I disagree with this, particularly the author’s last quoted sentence. Rather than characterizing this issue as “a lateral attack on the right to seek an abortion,” I see this as an opportunity to force people to consider what it means to be alive. I think the pro-abortion crowd diverted our attention to “choice” so that we needn’t struggle with that very basic-and difficult- question. I think that as a society we need to have some consensus on the answer to that question, because the ethical dilemmas aren’t going to go away. One only needs to glance at the headlines to see how assisted suicide is now being prettied up for mass marketing.

AttorneyRandyCollins | October 13, 2014 at 2:29 am

I disagree with anyone claiming that we should just pass these laws and forget about them. Law is never constant, nor should it be, as many regulations need to be revised and reviewed from time to time to ensure they are still being applied properly in today’s world. From a criminal defense attorney’s perspective, punishing a defendant for bringing harm to an unborn fetus may make sense in some situations, but if the alleged offender was unaware of the fetus, I don’t believe an increase in penalties is a way to better prevent similar circumstances in the future.