Henrietta Hay Column September 26, 2008

On a packed election ballot, Amendment 48 is most dangerous

The presidential election is getting millions of words from the talking heads. But there is another election we must pay attention to, right here in Happy Valley.

Along with choosing local and state officers, there are 18 proposed initiatives on the ballot this year. That means a very thick ballot and a lot of extra work reading them all. There are 14 proposed state amendments, and four referenda.

Colorado citizens have acquired the habit of making law by amending the Constitution.  If the Legislature doesn’t agree to what some group wants, the group tries to get enough signatures to get its particular issue on the ballot and everybody gets to vote on it. This means that the Constitution has a lot of stuff in it that should never have been put into it, but should have been handled by the Legislature. Remember TABOR?

And now we have Amendment 48.

This is another in the series of efforts to make abortion illegal by any means. But it is even more dangerous and threatening to women and doctors than past efforts.

It deals with the “moment of fertilization,” instead of abortion, but the effect is the same.

It reads, “Definition of a Person,” and defines a person as a “human being from the moment of fertilization and protects a person with the rights of such in the State Constitution.”

This would take away rights of women and physicians, by constitutional edict.

Going back several thousand years, abortion is not new nor, regardless of law, will it go away. Women have used herbs and sharp sticks throughout history. Thanks to the early lawmakers in this country, they were used right here. Some enlightened physicians performed sanitary abortions, but they were illegal until 1973.  Roe v. Wade made abortion legal for the first three months, and legal with certain restrictions after that.

The pro-life people would take us back to back-alley days.

No one is “pro-abortion.” But millions of us are pro-choice, believing it is a personal matter between a woman and her physician. Millions of others call themselves “pro-life,” based on religious beliefs.

And so we have Amendment 48, the latest effort in Colorado. It is frightening to think about the consequences of this amendment. It would, of course, eliminate all abortions, at any time and regardless of circumstances.

The legal questions might send our attorneys to Canada.

What happens to the unused eggs couples have produced in trying to have a child by artificial insemination?

What happens to the 12-year-old rape victim? What happens to stem-cell research? What happens to a woman who miscarries? What happens to the woman and her doctors who have to choose between her life and that of her fetus?

With a presidential campaign going full speed, and the abortion issue being kicked around, we have one voice of calm and wisdom.

Sen. Joseph Biden, in a “Meet the Press” interview with Tom Brokaw, was asked his views on when life begins. He said, “Look, I know when it begins for me. It is a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do.
But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me inappropriate in a pluralistic society.”

Amendment 48 is dangerous. I urge you to vote “No.”


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