This article has been updated to correct typographical errors in the originally published version.
Colorado is America’s personhood Petri Dish, where anti-choice activists first put a question on the ballot (in 2008) about whether to extend legal rights to fertilized human eggs, otherwise known as zygotes.
They lost and tried (and lost) again in 2010, and they’re trying again this year.
As the personhood initiatives have come and gone here, Colorado has seen the different reactions of politicians who endorse personhood when the eyes of everyday people turn toward them, when the wider population becomes aware that they’ve aligned themselves with the personhood folks, who even stand on the fringe of the anti-abortion movement.
As an endorser of personhood, Rep. Paul Ryan is suddenly in this category. Before being selected by Romney, no one except anti-choice activists knew Ryan had sponsored federal personhood legislation, which, among other things, would ban common forms of birth control as well as all abortions, even in the case of rape and incest.
So the question is, now that Ryan’s personhood cat is out of the back alley, what will he do?
Will Ryan, who supported personhood legislation in Congress, stand by his position?
It won’t work for Ryan to say, like Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman and Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner did last week, that personhood is just a measly state issue that’s not relevant to him as federal candidate , because Ryan endorsed it at the federal level.
It also won’t work for Ryan to say, like Colorado congressional candidate Joe Coors did last week, that the voters have twice defeated the ballot measure, and so Coors is going to respect their decision and not endorse it. Ryan doesn’t seem to be concerned about voter sentiment about personhood, in light of the fact that he’s co-sponsored legislation on the issue despite long odds against him in Congress.
Ryan might consider un-endorsing personhood, like Colorado GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck did in 2010.
Buck took back his endorsement, saying he doesn’t understand that personhood would ban common forms of birth control.
This strategy didn’t work well for Buck, as his Democratic opponent trounced him on the issue anyway, and it’s hard to see how it would work for Ryan, since he was a co-sponsor of the personhood bill in Congress, and he’d presumably know something about it if he co-sponosored it. I mean, can you imagine Ryan offering the excuse that he’s a budget maven not a birth-control maven?
Or, will Ryan follow the lead of Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, who’s not abandoning his personhood friends, saying through a spokesperson that he’s still a “supporter” of personhood.
It shouldn’t be a surprise when a politician stands behind a ballot initiative that he’s endorsed, like Lamborn is doing, but in Colorado, when it comes to personhood, you have to expect backpedaling.
Still, you might guess that Ryan’s model would be Lamborn, since Lamborn co-sponsored the same federal personhood “Sanctity of Human Life” bill that Ryan did.
But after what we’ve seen in Colorado, you expect Ryan to back away from it, even though, according to The Fix, “Ryan won his seat in 1998 by running to his opponent’s right on abortion and emphasizing no exceptions.”
In any case, at some point, whether it’s tomorrow, if Ryan takes questions from reporters, or at some future debate or press conference, a reporter has to remind Ryan, “You’re a co-sponsor of a bill making personhood federal law.”
And they’ll have to ask, “Why are you so strongly against a women’s right to choose, that you want to ban common forms of birth control, as personhood laws would do?
Why do you feel so strongly about abortion that you want to ban it, even in the case of rape and incest?”