Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rocky Mountain High

"Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?"

With those 46 words, radical, far-right, fringe members of the social conservative wing of the Republican Party in Colorado are attempting to outlaw all abortions and many forms of contraception.

In a electoral season marked by many punitive and callous attempts to enact retrograde legislation impacting women's health and rights, none is quite as preposterous as Colorado's proposed Amendment 48.

As The New York Times pointed out in it's recent Editorial, the proposed amendment would "r
edefine the term “person” in the state’s Constitution to include fertilized human eggs — in effect bestowing on fertilized eggs, prior to implantation in the womb and pregnancy, the same legal rights and protections that apply to people once they are born.

"The amendment, which has split anti-abortion groups, carries broad implications, ranging from harmful to downright ridiculous. Potentially, it could ban widely used forms of contraception, curtail medical research involving embryos, criminalize necessary medical care and shutter fertility clinics. A damaged fertilized egg might be eligible for monetary damages.

"Noting the “legal nightmare” the amendment would create, and its potential to endanger the health of women, Gov. Bill Ritter, a self-described “pro-life” Democrat, has joined the opposition to Amendment 48."

Wendy Norris of The Colorado Independent wrote recently that the
backers of the "personhood" law have ties to militant anti-abortion groups. "A strange netherworld of extremes exists in today’s anti-abortion movement. Nowhere is that more evident than its latest political salvo coming to a voting booth near you in November — Colorado’s proposed Amendment 48, the so-called Human Life Amendment..." It's an interesting, and sadly not surprising, read.

The Denver Post has called Amendment 48 "absurd."

Let's hope voters feel the same.

1 comment:

Diana Hsieh said...

Thank you for your opposition to Amendment 48!

You might be interested in this web site outlining the case against Amendment 48:


We discuss the issue in greater detail in an issue paper published by the Coalition for Secular Government -- "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person" -- by Ari Armstrong and myself. It's available at:


We discuss some of the serious implications of this proposed amendment, such as:

* Amendment 48 would make abortion first-degree murder, except perhaps to save the woman's life. First-degree murder is defined in Colorado law as deliberately causing the death of a "person," a crime punished by life in prison or the death penalty. So women and their doctors would be punished with the severest possible penalty under law for terminating a pregnancy -- even in cases of rape, incest, and fetal deformity.

* Amendment 48 would ban any form of birth control that might sometimes prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus -- including the birth control pill, morning-after pill, and IUD. The result would be many more unintended pregnancies and unwanted children in Colorado.

* Amendment 48 would ban in vitro fertilization because the process usually creates more fertilized eggs than can be safely implanted in the womb. So every year, hundreds of Colorado couples would be denied the joy of a child of their own.

Our paper also develops a strong defense of abortion rights -- not based on vague appeals to "choice" or "privacy" -- but on the fact that neither an embryo nor fetus qualifies as a person with a right to life.

An embryo or fetus is wholly dependent on the woman for its basic life-functions. It goes where she goes, eats what she eats, and breathes what she breathes. It lives as an extension of her body, contained within and dependent on her for its survival. It is only a potential person, not an actual person.

That situation changes radically at birth. The newborn baby exists as a distinct organism, separate from his mother. Although still very needy, he lives his own life. He is a person, and his life must be protected as a matter of right.

So, we argue, when a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy she does not violate the rights of any person. Instead, she is properly exercising her own rights over her own body in pursuit of her own happiness. Moreover, in most cases, she is acting morally and responsibly by doing so.

Again, the URL for the paper is:


The sad fact is that Amendment 48 is based on sectarian religious dogma, not objective science or philosophy. It is a blatant attempt to impose theocracy in America. That's definitely a scary thought.

Thanks again for speaking up about it -- and my apologies for writing such a huge comment.

Diana Hsieh
Founder, Coalition for Secular Government