Amendment 48 Goes Too Far

My very first job after graduating from Harvard Law
School was as a part-time lawyer for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
in Denver. I was working on cases related to expanding access to birth control
to all couples regardless of their marital status. At the time the birth
control pill was recently approved as safe, but it was not yet legal in all
states for all women. The Supreme Court in 1965 established basic privacy
rights to birth control, but only for women who could produce a marriage license.

Fast forward to 2008, 40 years later. In my worst
nightmare, it never crossed my mind that voters in Colorado would be
considering a constitutional amendment that could outlaw birth control pills.
Emergency contraceptives could also be illegal under Proposition 48, a form of
birth control that if taken up to 72 hours after intercourse can prevent an
unwanted pregnancy, especially used by rape and incest victims.
VIDEO: Life & FertilizationVIDEO: Life & Fertilization

If you need more reasons to Vote No on 48, here’s one: chances are
you or your own family will be affected if this crazy proposal passes. Like
thousands of living women in Colorado in the 1970s, I struggled with
difficult pregnancies. I lost twins during my second pregnancy and almost died
during childbirth. It was a painful time for my family, as it is for all
families. I can only imagine how devastating it would have been if government
officials had shown up on my doorstep, asking questions about what had
happened, was it really a miscarriage? Yet, couples could face that kind of
unthinkable government investigation if Colorado voters allow Amendment 48 to

If you don’t believe it could happen, just take a
look at the plain language of the Amendment. It would amend the Colorado
constitution to grant, for the first time, inalienable rights, equality of
justice, and due process of law to fertilized eggs. Even the proponents of the
Amendment admit they don’t know all the possible ramifications.

Would couples struggling to get pregnant be allowed to
use in vitro fertilization, which depends on fertilizing more eggs than a woman
can carry to term? Would common birth control methods, such as the Pill, IUDs,
the Patch, and the Ring, be outlawed because anti-choicers maintain that they operate by preventing
fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus?

Could child welfare agencies be called to investigate
abuse of a fertilized egg? Would a fertilized egg have standing to sue a woman
for getting chemotherapy for cancer because it might be harmed? Amendment 48
would open more than 20,000 statutes and regulations to re-interpretation by
the courts and lawyers. Almost every area of the law would be affected,
including criminal law, family law, trusts and estates, elder law, tort law,
juvenile law, health law, and business law.

In this presidential election year, Coloradans will decide
one of the most competitive senate races in the country, several strongly
contested congressional races, and as many as a dozen statewide ballot
initiatives. There are a large number of questions on the ballot this fall, and
many of the issues are complicated. But it doesn’t take a constitutional
scholar, a medical ethicist or a genius to see that Amendment 48 is ridiculous.
Coloradans have rejected these extreme positions before and must do so again.

Amendment 48 is not a homegrown initiative. National
groups such as The American Life League, Lifeguard, and the Thomas More Law
Center are carrying out a multi-state strategy with the ultimate goal of
overturning Roe v. Wade. In addition to Colorado, they tried to get similar
amendments on the ballot in Georgia, Montana, and Oregon, but failed. These
outside groups are hoping, in Colorado, that the Amendment will sneak through
the clutter of a crowed ballot. They are counting on you to be distracted and
not to focus on the full implications of Amendment 48.

Well, they are forgetting that Coloradans are independent
thinkers. Coloradans believe that they and their neighbors should have the
ability to plan when they want to start a family, decide when they are ready to
become parents, and make other important life decisions. By establishing
constitutional rights from the moment of fertilization, Amendment 48 would
eliminate a woman’s right to make personal, private decisions about her
own health care, in consultation with her doctor and her family. 

Years ago, when I was asked how I could be both a mother
and a Congresswoman, I replied, "I have a brain and a uterus and I use
both." On November 4, I urge Coloradans to use their brains and protect
women’s uteruses.

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  • invalid-0

    I like your wording of the amendment crazy cause that just what it is, Patricia. Your post is well written and very well thought out. The more voices we have to talk about this hopefully the more people will stand against this. Just as Amanda’s video points out, religious views are personal and shouldn’t be imposed on the masses. All we have to do is look at other countries now and in the past to see how well it works when one religion becomes law of the land. Not all believe conception is the beginning of life and some do, I personally don’t but I defintely believe all women should have options for their lives and certainly not charged with child abuse if they mistreat an fertilized egg or forced to carry every embryo in an IVF situation or investigated for a miscarriage. And we certainly don’t want to deny women means to prevent a pregnancy that may kill them or just to prevent pregnancy. Just as religion is a personal thing so should these decisions be left up to the person. Peace, Liz.

  • invalid-0

    Remember how slavery was outlawed in spite of the hardship plantation owners claimed would be caused to them? The government chose to recognize the inalienable right of freedom that our Constitution guarantees for everyone, even in a time where not everyone believed that those of a different color were entitled to this right, and in spite of the “hardship” it might cause to others. This was a case of doing what’s right even when it may be inconvenient or unpopular.

    Those who believe that children, even unborn children, have an inalienable right to life (also guaranteed by our Constitution) are not seeking to impose their religion on others. They believe that killing a child in its mother’s womb is just as unconscionable as killing a toddler because you can’t afford the daycare and you really need to go to work.

    They are not trying to regulate what you do with your own body. They honestly believe that once a baby starts growing in your body it is alive. It is a child that within a few weeks has a beating heart and a functional brain. It sucks on its thumb and gets the hiccups and feels pain.

    They believe that once we stop standing up for right and wrong, all hope is lost. When did we start caring for convenience above life?

  • invalid-0

    Love Life, I wasn’t saying that convenience is the ultimate thing yes we need to respect life but what about the mother? Doesn’t she deserve the same respect or more? After all we can’t have a pregnancy without a mother and her uterus. And the whole myth of having abortions just for convenience is an antichoice myth. I didn’t say that I don’t believe that a fetus is life what I said is that I don’t believe conception is life until it implants. I personally believe that once it implants it is a pregnancy and the potential for life. BUT we must respect women and TRUST them to make decisions for their own lives. Putting all this as a matter of the state is dangerous. I don’t know how more to put this to you but to say that if you honestly think women get abortions cause of convenience then I am speechless. Let me pose this to you then LoveLife, how about my abortion when both would of died if I had carried on the pregnancy how much time should I do in jail for that? Do you think that it was a convenience for me? No it wasn’t but it was necessary for me to live and go on if I so choose to have other children or to adopt which I am since my health is not the best. The thing you antichoicers don’t understand is that the majority of women who get abortions are mothers themselves and it has nothing nothing to do with convenience. Can you honestly tell me that if you were in my situation when it was completely hopeless for everyone involved you would of chosen to die? I am not you but I am curious of the choice you would of made. Abortion isn’t as simple as the black and white issue you all make it out to be. I hope that you will respond in a civil way so that we may discuss this issue further. Peace, Liz.

  • invalid-0

    And what if I believe differently?
    What if I, my partner and my doctor, believe differently from you?

    To say that this argument about when life begins isn’t based on a moral/religious argument, is a little disingenuous. (Having grown up a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian, I know religious ideology when I see it.)

    I think legislating what a woman (who is not you) can be told, says and does and finally decides with her doctor and her family and, ultimately, with her own body is the essence of regulation.

    Why not admit it?

  • invalid-0

    There will always exist women, who will undergo am abortion.
    They need medical information and help. You can’t reach anything with statutory prohibition and punishment.

  • invalid-0

    Most women have abortions for convenience, not because their life or health is threatened.

  • invalid-0

    The issue here is MUCH bigger than simple abortion, this amendment would affect whether a pregnant woman can choose where to have her baby, it could affect women seeking VBAC, it could ultimately be used to outlaw vaginal birth altogether. This amendment, taken to its extreme conclusion, would cause all women to be tested once a week or more for pregnancy, lock them up for the entirety of their pregnancy, (to protect the fetus) and allow them freedom only when their child is delivered by Cesarean Section (because vaginal birth might put the fetus at risk)

    It is INSANE. It puts the life and rights of a potential human ahead of the life and rights of an EXISTING woman.

  • invalid-0

    doula_char is right! Instead of this being an argument about just abortion this proposal is insane because it will affect so much more than just abortion rights. All that doula_char listed is right and even more than she listed it will affect. I seriously hope that the independent thinkers of Colorado that Patricia mentioned will strike this down.

  • invalid-0

    Basqu1, I seriously think you need to watch or hear some stories of women who have undergone an abortion and then we can talk. I am curious are you calling the doctors and nurses who diagnose a pregnancy as nonviable liars? I seriously doubt they are just going to go about lying to women as oh I don’t know their entire career would go up in flames if they did. I guess it is just easier for you to be in denial and think stubbornly yet wrongly that women, their partners and doctors are liars. That’s your problem not mine. If you don’t believe me fine. I don’t care. I have more to do than argue with trolls.

  • invalid-0

    I think you’ll be able to answer my question that no one answered about another article on this site. The article was about the FOCA legislation, and the article said that a post-viability baby would only be aborted to preserve the health or life of the mother (I’m paraphrasing). What I wanted to know was… what maternal condition requires that a viable baby be killed in the womb and then extracted? Could not an emergency C-section be performed, or labor induced, and both the mother and viable baby receive medical attention?
    In a related question, what maternal conditions require a pre-viable baby to be terminated to save the mother? The only instance I know of is ectopic pregnancy. If the closely-monitored mother’s body doesn’t “absorb” the misplaced embryo, based on what I’ve read medical experts do not consider removal of the pregnancy an elective abortion. Since the baby’s death is inevitable if the woman’s body doesn’t self-correct and she dies, the embryo is not being removed for the sake of termination since it would die anyway. This is my understanding, please correct me if this isn’t accurate.
    You said that you had an abortion because both you and the baby would’ve died if the pregnancy continued. May I ask what condition you had and if there are other conditions warranting abortion, both pre and post viability?

  • invalid-0

    basqu1, would you mind stating some sources to support your assertion that most women have abortions ‘for convenience’? Legitimate, credible sources, please – not something from James Dobson.

  • invalid-0

    For abortion statistics which show how it is mostly based on convenience, check out the Guttmacher Institute, which is definitely not a conservative organization. Here’s an excerpt on why women have abortions:

    Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.[8]

  • mellankelly1

    It may be your opinion that the following circumstances are mere inconveniences for women, but please do not regard your opinion above those of the women facing these very real hardships.

    89% of women gave more than one reason for terminating their pregnancies (the average number of reasons given was four):

    74% concern for/responsibility to other individuals

    73% cannot afford a baby right now

    69% a baby would interfere with school/employment/ability to care for dependents

    48% would be single parent/having relationship problems

    43% has completed childbearing

    Further, the majority of women who terminate their pregnancies understand the responsibilities of parenthood as they already have one or more children.   What you or I feel about those reasons does not alter how valid they are for the individual women facing them.

  • invalid-0

    What I can’t understand is why these religious nuts want to enslave women? I mean this country was founded on “religious freedoms” but to them that only applies if a person beleives as they do.

    We are free to choose how we want to live and those who don’t follow by “their” beleifs should die. This includes those sho choose not to have kids.

    I’m a woman in her mid 40’s and I choose long ago along with my husband never to have kids nor to even adopt them.
    We love our child free life style, it allowed us to move 2200 miles across the country to a better life.

    These nut cases refuse to see the benefits women receive when they use birth control. Birth control can even help a woman get pregnant.

    I use to suffer from estrogen migraines and progesterone only b/c was all that would help aleviate months when I wish I would die because the pain was unbearable – but these religious nuts don’t care.

    Apparently reading the bible is all a woman needs to help her with her problem monthlies. I fear for women in the future – its a grim one if anything like this ever passes.

  • invalid-0

    You just seriously misrepresented the statistics you cited! ‘I cannot afford a child’ or ‘I already have children (‘other individuals’) to look after and I cannot have another one’ are not the same as ‘meh, it’s just not convenient for me’ or ‘I want to be able to fit into this dress’.

    When you have to resort to distorting facts or outright lying to sustain your argument, there’s a pretty good chance your argument is failing and you know it.

  • invalid-0

    To be honest, Liz, I think anti-choicers are so accustomed to distorting and misrepresenting facts that they assume everyone else does it, too.

  • invalid-0

    Wow, spot on! As an anti-choicer, I absolutely devote most of my time to distorting and misrepresenting facts and applaude others who do the same. I also feel nothing but contempt for women, especially pregnant ones. That’s what the anti-choice movement is all about, of course – we enjoy lying to woman and indoctrinating them to care about their “babies” (haha, what a joke!). Also, I’m one of those hypocritical religious types that wants everyone to be like me, but I would never donate a single cent to helping them raise their kids – I’d rather spend my money on starbucks and judge people. In fact, I spend a huge portion of my time throwing bibles at them and telling them they’re going to hell. But, when I’m not concentrating on crushing these fragile little flowers with my anti-choice rhetoric of deceit, here’s what I’m doing:

    I’m raising a kid on 26K a year without government assistance. I’m putting my educational pursuits aside. I’m sacrificing as much as possible to make sure he wants for nothing. Somehow I made it through a high-risk pregnancy that required weekly fetal monitoring, blood tests and long-term bed rest without thinking about killing that bit of non-human squirming protein inside of me for making me suffer so – that would have been more budget friendly. Wait, did I already mention the emergency C-section? Oh, and there’s the post-partum depression made exponentially more severe by bipolar disorder. Oh poor, pitiful me – I am but a slave to the backwoods, moral tendency to take responsibility for my choices and devote my life to my children. I even have the audacity to claim that it’s rewarding and the best investment I could have made for my future. I donate to charities who invest in high tech ultrasound technology for pro-life centers so women who are uninsured can see their babies before making their decision. Selfish, I know. And, horror of all horrors, I tell people that they should practice abstinence if they are unwilling to raise a child, because contraception can fail. I actually believe that people can practice foresight and exercise self-control! And imagine – having to wear thrift store clothes and shop at discount food marts and never eating out – and claiming it’s so easy when I see my son’s smile. Talk about propaganda! Here’s the worst part of all – if I were raped tomorrow and become pregnant, I would actually carry to term and raise the child myself because I care more about the innocent baby than trying to destroy the evidence of a trauma. Unforgiveable.

    But back to my point, I’m super hateful and want to erode the rights of women. That’s my motivation. Pay no attention to the spit-up on my shoulder.

    P.S. Yes, this was absolutely mean and obnoxious. I don’t react sweetly to stereotypes.

  • invalid-0

    it’s not about you – or the choices that you’ve already made. it’s not even about me.

    this is about a woman who’s in her *own* situation and needs to make her OWN decision about her life and her family.

    fundamentally, do we (as a society) trust women?
    do we trust women to decide for themselves what’s best for them?

    if women are to be trusted, why would a woman need someone else to show her an ultrasound before she made a decision about abortion?
    if women are to be trusted, why should legal status of the fetus a woman’s carrying come before her own?
    if women are to be trusted, why are people who aren’t her family, her doctors or her partner making decisions about her?

    it’s great that you’ve made the choices you know were right for you. why not extend the favor and let other women do the same?

  • invalid-0

    “Yes, this was absolutely mean and obnoxious. I don’t react sweetly to stereotypes.”

    Indeed it was mean and obnoxious. Along with the reflexive dishonesty and misrepresentation of facts so undeniably common in the religious right those seem like traits that ‘pro-life’ folk cultivate and certainly display here on a daily basis.
    More than mean and obnoxious it was also astonishingly self referential and, martyred. I’m sure that the folks at your church find you admirable but if that little display was supposed to suggest that you’re some sort of misunderstood role model you utterly failed the wider audience while considerably strengthening the stereotypes you resent.

  • invalid-0

    Your choices are admirable. The fact that you want to deprive women of the chance to make alternative choices, however, is less than admirable. I appreciate that you’re struggling, but some women are in worse circumstances than you.

    And while it’s wonderful that you’re willing to be a martyr and carry to term in the event of pregnancy as a result of rape, for some women that would be incredibly damaging. You have absolutely no business dictating what other women should do in such circumstances, and then assuming that women who choose abortion in those (or any other) circumstances are morally inferior to you. (While you didn’t state that outright, it was strongly implied.) Furthermore, you just cannot know what you’d do in a particular situation if you’ve never been in that situation.

    I’ll add a tendency toward self congratulation and a misplaced sense of moral superiority to the tendency of anti-choicers to distort and misrepresent facts. God, the arrogance is just astounding. How DARE you presume that what’s best for you must be best for every other woman, and that you’re better placed to make other women’s decisions than they are. And how dare you suggest that a woman’s wellbeing is worth absolutely nothing.

  • invalid-0

    My narrative was meant to be ironic, as I don’t feel I’m doing anything extraordinary or difficult. I was presenting myself as a trumped up, dramatic martyr jokingly, to make the point that I’m an average person just trying to live life according to my principles – and that’s my motivation for being “anti-choice,” not the desire to hurt women or spread misinformation. I don’t go to church so I wouldn’t know how church members feel about me, although I do hold a religious preference. Besides, in “real life” I would never go around exploiting my kid to gain admiration; he’s not a merit badge. I also posted it expecting that my choice to have a baby in a difficult situation (especially since some of the particulars mirror reasons listed in comments as acceptable abortion scenarios) would either be totally ignored or shrugged off, which gives me the impression that pro-choice women indulge in their fair share of resentment towards struggling women faced with a tough decision. Insensitivity is not exclusive to one side of the argument.

  • invalid-0

    My story was in response to negative generalizations about “anti-choicers.” It was meant to sound overly dramatic, as if my decision was something spectacular although my situation is obviously nothing special. Look, abortion is legal and I can level with that fact. I sincerely hope that people are truly making the best decisions for their situations. I don’t think it’s in bad faith for me to encourage them to consider carrying their baby to term or share my story (the non-hostile version) or donate money. Since we can trust them to make their own decisions, we can also trust them to graciously consider the advice of others (or refuse it) and still choose for themselves. The ultrasounds are not required, merely offered free of charge – women are certainly allowed to refuse the service. I am absolutely letting people make their own decisions – presenting them with my perspective on the issue is not interfering with their constitutional rights. In “real life,” I am never aggressive or rude, and if I sense that my stance is making someone uncomfortable, I do not push the issue. It was not my intention to suggest that an unborn baby is more important than his mother. I believe all humans are equal. If the mother becomes seriously ill during the pregnancy, her condition should be treated carefully and if the baby is harmed or killed as a result, I do not consider that elective abortion, as the intention was not to terminate the pregnancy. I have never asserted that a woman should be denied life-saving medical treatment while pregnant. Medical and crisis situations put aside, I think people should not be having sex if they aren’t willing to carry the baby to term for adoption or parenting – no matter if the reason is finances, current relationship, career, whatever. I don’t think it’s callous to point out that women (and their partners) are in charge of their sexuality and are capable of self-control. I apologize for my rude post, as I reacted in anger and at the time did not care how it was interpreted.

  • invalid-0

    My narrative was meant to be sarcastically dramatic, as if I really thought my ordinary story was something spectacular. The underlying point was that I’m an average mother who faced a somewhat difficult choice of her own and my “anti-choice” position is not motivated by hatred or contempt towards women. I noticed a lot of mean-spirited statements in previous comments and gave a careless, knee-jerk response. I would never confront a struggling woman with aggression or insensitivity. If I knew someone who was raped and planned to have an abortion, I would absolutely keep my mouth shut, as I wouldn’t want to contribute to her stress. Even if I was directly asked what I thought, I’d say it was up to her. And yes, I can absolutely say and know that I would keep the child, because I have made that commitment ahead of time. I am no better than anyone else because of that, it’s merely where my personal convictions lie and I’m not aiming to achieve martyr-status by sticking by them. Any sense of self-congratulation and moral superiority was meant to be ironic, acting as if my ordinary situation would be shocking or offensive to pro-choicers, as it seemed pro-life comments have been met with much offense. Everyone’s situation is truly different, and I do not assume to speak for all in low-income, high risk pregnancy situations. However, if my advice were asked of someone in a similiar position, I would tell them how rewarding it all has been and encourage them to consider carrying to term. I’ve had many friends who’ve had abortions and my only response was that I’m glad the surgery had no complications and I wished them a speedy recovery. The well-being of women is extremely important to me. That’s why I maintain that women are in charge of their sexuality and can abstain if they cannot bring a baby into their life or are unwilling to go through adoption. They can avoid the scenario entirely, saving them from unnecessary stress. Also, women who are severely ill during pregnancy should definitely receive medical treatment. If the baby dies as a result of treating the mother’s condition, I do not consider that an elective abortion, as the intent was not to terminate the pregnancy. I hope this makes my stance clear, as being pissy obviously doesn’t serve me well.

  • invalid-0

    Show us any evidence that until reaching viability OUTSIDE THE WOMB that a fetus has ever been recognized as a full person by any people in history. Start with the Judeo-Christian tradition you purport to represent.

  • invalid-0

    I can’t tell if you’re asking me or someone else. But I’ll respond anyway, I suppose, even though I don’t claim to represent anyone but myself.
    It makes no difference to me whether considering an unborn baby to be a full person would be historically unprecedented or not. I believe an unborn child deserves this recognition, even if all past societies disagree. Any religious motivations I have for being pro-life are merely supplementary to my main reasons, anyway. Having lost a baby in utero and later given birth to my son are the primary motivations for my stance. But, for fun, I’ll see what information I can find about fetal rights throughout history. I’ll report back if I find anything interesting.