Women’s issues could dominate election
Ironically, in Colorado, where the personhood issue was first brought before the voters in 2008, this year’s counterpart is so politically poisonous that even lifelong anti-abortion activist and personhood proponent Republican senate candidate Cory Gardner, tried to run away from it.
The Personhood Bill (Amendment 67) that will appear on the November ballot is becoming Gardner’s worst political nightmare: he is being held accountable by Democrats — and especially women Democrats — for the years he supported personhood bills from which he now wants to distance himself.
In the mangled English quoted by the Right Wing Watch blog’s Miranda Blue, Gardner announced, “In the state of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support.”
The qualification of “in the state of Colorado” is essential to the answer, since Gardner’s support for federal anti-abortion and pro-personhood legislation has not changed.
Before resigning his House seat to run for the Senate, Gardner was a sponsor of the Life at Conception Act in the House. This federal bill contains the same language as the Colorado version that would make some common forms of birth control illegal, as well as outlaw abortion, without exception even in cases of rape or incest.
As the Pro-Life Alliance explains the “Life Begins at Conception” legislation, “In the past, corporations have been established as “persons” under the 14th Amendment and the Supreme Court has upheld this notion providing a clear precedent for legislatively defining who or what is in fact a “person” under the Amendment. Certainly a human being yet to be born — possessing its own unique set of human DNA — is more worthy of the term “person” than a corporate entity.”
Technically, that analogy overlooks the distinction that a corporation is recognized legally as a fictitious person, while a human person is considered to be a living independent being.
In addition to criminalizing abortion, these proposed personhood laws could also be interpreted to ban some common forms of birth control, limit stem-cell research, and prohibit in-vitro fertilization.
Though it stands no chance of becoming law, the Life at Conception Act serves as a political barometer measuring support for personhood legislation.
Gardner’s very obvious effort to distance himself from his past support of anti-abortion legislation, including voting for anti-abortion bills that allowed no exception for rape or incest, and for personhood bills that decreed life begins at conception, is less than convincing .
Gardner now claims to support neither of these positions in Colorado, even though he still supports both in Washington, D. C.
His flip-flop on personhood has put Gardner at odds with his anti-abortion, pro-personhood conservative supporters, but it apparently gained him little or no support from supporters of a woman’s right to birth control, including abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Conservative Republicans, who put a high priority on anti-abortion and personhood bills, are furious at Gardner’s betrayal of their crusade against women’s right to choose birth control that terminates a pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest.
“Cory Gardner is a big disappointment, since he was firmly on our side, and now he’s throwing that away for greater political aspirations,” said Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, the lead sponsor of the ballot question, according to a Wall Street Journal story.
Meantime, Democrats, encouraged that the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court could backfire against Republicans, are predicting a strong turnout by women to reject the male conservative agenda, and demand protection for their rights, including the right to terminate a pregnancy.
In their Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court exempted some “closely held” corporations from including women’s health care provisions required by Obamacare that are contrary to the owners’ religious principles.
This unprecedented decision continues the recent direction of the all-male conservative majority on the Supreme Court to play fast and loose with their expansive definition of corporate “personhood, ” and narrow view of the rights of women.
Meantime, supporters of personhood legislation, undeterred by three to one defeats of essentially identical bills in 2008 and 2010, are preparing once more to put the personhood question before the voters in 2014.
These issues are important women’s issues. While women have a poor record for turning out in off-year elections, they have a lot to lose by sitting this one out.