Time for Personhood Colorado to recognize its cause is lost
They’re back! Unfazed either by earlier failures to pass their constitutional initiatives to grant the rights of a living human being to a fertilized egg, zygote, embryo or fetus, the people behind Personhood Colorado are back with the same goal of defining any phase of human development from conception to birth as a “person” or “child” in the eyes of the law.
Anticipating this move, Democrats in the Legislature moved quickly last year to pass the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act. This law requires the state to “protect pregnant women,” and gives a woman who loses her fetus as the result of a crime legal recourse.
However, the Crimes Against Pregnant Women bill specifically does not “confer personhood, or any rights associated with that status, on a human being at any time prior to live birth.”
That legislative action should have ended the crusade by Personhood Colorado and some sympathetic Republcans in the Legislature to require the state to recognize an unborn human being at some point prior to birth as a “person” or “child,” with the same rights as a living individual.
After years of failing to convince Coloradans to support their efforts to make all abortion a crime, this year’s initiative introduces a new strategy. The anti-abortion crusade now focuses on a single strategy, called the Brady Amendment or the Brady Project, to push the anti-abortion efforts.
The name was chosen by Longmont resident Heather Surovik. She was eight-months pregnant in 2012 when she was injured in a car crash. The fetus she was carrying, already named Brady, did not survive the accident.
Personhood Colorado has found a compelling new face in Surovik for its campaign. When she discovered that the drunk driver who killed the baby in her womb could not be prosecuted for homicide, she threw herself into the personhood movement.
“Brady was eight pounds, two ounces — he was a person!” she proclaimed. “And Planned Parenthood and the media are trying to take the focus off of Brady, to ignore him to push their own agendas. Let me be clear: This amendment is about Brady, and his life, and justice for women who have suffered the tragedy that I have suffered.”
This will be the third time Colorado voters have been asked to support constitutional amendments to ban abortions. The first effort came in 2008, when it was rejected by about three to one. Another effort failed in 2010 with similar margins.
In 2012, the year of Surovik’s accident, Personhood Colorado was unable to collect a sufficient number of valid voters’ signatures to put the personhood amendment on the ballot.
Possibly propelled by Surovik’s testimony, Personhood Colorado last year collected more than 140,000 signatures — well above the required 86,105 — to put the anti-abortion bill on the ballot. Its title was set, and it was verified in 2013 to be on this November’s ballot.
Because its direct assaults on women’s right to make their own reproductive choices failed so completely, the ever-adaptable personhood crusade resorted to stealth. As Tom Tomasic pointed out in the Colorado Independent, this obviously anti-abortion ballot initiative never mentions abortion.
Instead, Amendment 67, the Colorado Definition of Person and Child Inititative, asks: “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining ‘person’ and ‘child’ in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings?”
That clever language may have helped Personhood Colorado rebound to gather 140,000 signatures to place its initiative on the ballot, but when votes are tallied, it is likely to meet the same fate as its predecessors — both rejected by more than 70 percent of Colorado voters.
Four failed efforts should be sufficient to convince even the most die-hard anti-abortion crusaders in Colorado that theirs is a lost cause.
Coloradans value their right to choose, and they show no signs of conceding that freedom to the rigid standards of conservative ideology.