Colorado Activists Rally Against Personhood USA-Backed Ballot Measure

Read more of our articles on Amendment 67 here.

Abortion rights organizations in Colorado launched a campaign Tuesday opposing a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would add “unborn human beings” to the state’s criminal code.

Speakers at a rally on the west steps of the state capitol warned that the initiative, called Amendment 67, would go much further than allowing prosecutors, for example, to file murder charges against a drunk driver who hits a pregnant woman and terminates her pregnancy without killing her.

Instead, the “deceptive measure” is “truly an attack on family planning and women’s health,” Vicki Cowart, president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, told the crowd. With “unborn human beings” left undefined, the measure would lead to a ban on all abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, and restrict access to birth control, she said.

“Amendment 67 would do exactly the opposite of protecting women and their babies from drunk drivers,” Cowart said.

“Amendment 67 would eliminate a woman’s right to make personal and private decisions about her health,” said Cristina Aguilar, interim executive director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), who delivered her speech in both Spanish and English. “For a woman who has suffered a miscarriage, this allows the government to investigate.”

“Amendment 67 is, put simply, bad medicine for women and for Colorado,” Dr. Ruben Alvero, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado, told the crowd. “We want to protect pregnant women from harm, but Amendment 67 is not the way.”

Before being shuffled off by police to a public sidewalk near the “Vote No 67” rally, backers of Amendment 67 said the warnings about far-reaching impacts of their measure were unfounded.

Similar “fetal homicide” laws in other states have “never led to an abortion ban,” Personhood USA spokesperson Keith Mason told RH Reality Check. Personhood USA supports Amendment 67.

“Who looks at Brady and says he wasn’t a person?” asks Mason, referring to a fetus killed by a drunk driver who slammed into Heather Surovik two years ago. A photo of Brady is on the campaign materials of backers of Amendment 67, which they refer to as the Brady Amendment.

Colorado law allows abortion throughout pregnancy, and a fetus doesn’t receive legal protection under state law prior to birth. A 2013 Colorado law, passed after Surovik’s tragic loss of her pregnancy, allows prosecutors to file charges if a pregnancy is terminated due to reckless acts of violence, but murder charges cannot be brought because the fetus is not considered a person under state law.

“Amendment 67 is just about protecting babies like my son Brady,” said Surovik, who wants murder charges to be filed in cases like hers.

Asked whether the passage of Amendment 67 could lead to government investigations of miscarriages, Surovik said, “My intent is that babies are protected.”

November will be the third time Colorado citizens vote on “personhood” amendments, which were defeated overwhelmingly by voters in 2008 and 2010. Activists fell just short of gathering enough signatures to place a “personhood” amendment on the ballot in 2012.

The 2010 “personhood” measure, like the similarly worded 2008 proposed amendment, would have defined a “person” in the Colorado Constitution as “every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”

This year’s ballot question asks if voters want to protect “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.”

The presence of Amendment 67 on November’s ballot could intensify the election-year debate about abortion and contraception issues.

Already, Sen. Mark Udall has been pounding his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, for his previous support of a personhood ballot initiative and for his ongoing co-sponsorship of a federal “personhood” bill.

ProgressNow Colorado Director Amy Runyon-Harms sent an email to Gardner Tuesday, asking him, in light of his decision this year to un-endorse state personhood amendments, to attend the Vote No 67 rally.

You may have read that the NO on Amendment 67 campaign is kicking off their opposition to this year’s Personhood abortion ban amendment with a rally at the Capitol today. Can I tell them you’ll be joining us?

Runyon-Harms told RH Reality Check she did not hear back from Gardner, who’s run TV advertisements emphasizing that he’s withdrawn his previous support for “personhood” bans.

In fact, Gardner has not withdrawn his support for the federal “personhood” bill. To do so, Gardner would have to make a brief speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

This month, Gardner’s spokesperson stated, erroneously, that the federal “personhood” legislation, co-sponsored by Gardner, “simply states that life begins at conception” and does not aim to confer legal protections on fertilized human eggs.

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  • fiona64

    Another proposed law that makes diploid cells into persons while denying the humanity of the pregnant woman. There is something seriously wrong with the anti-choice.

  • vulgarism

    The folks at Personhood USA are morons. Drew Hymer of P.USA told me that a chimera is created when one person cannibalizes another. Yep. That stupid

    • Shan

      A what? WTF is that, even?

      • vulgarism

        Simple. If I eat you, half my body is suddenly composed of your DNA!

        • Shan

          Awesome! I ate shark once. I can hardly wait for my second row of teeth to come through!

          • vulgarism

            He is now denying that he even mentioned chimeras, has accused me of lying, and has now banned me from personhood USA

            So funny. What a tiny penis he has.

          • fiona64

            And boy, does he continue to embarrass himself.

        • BelligerentBruncher

          That would be a cool superpower.

      • vulgarism

        He is complaining now that I made him look stupid, when he clearly said that chimerism = form of cannibalism

        • Shan

          Ack, I’m not going there! That’s one of THE most non-user friendly forums out there. Plus, ugh.

          • vulgarism

            You don’t need to. That is just proof of his lies.

  • StealthGaytheist

    Cell clusters and corporations are people. Women are not. Even Orwell couldn’t have predicted this sort of lunacy.

  • L-dan

    They keep saying this protects fetuses. how? In the case of Brady there, the drunk driver would have happened regardless of this law. It just means the driver can be charged with murder instead of (or in addition to) the other crimes that are already on the books. From an emotional standpoint, I suppose some parents will find it comforting have the magical word ‘murder’ applied, but that doesn’t ‘protect’ squat.

    Just like they’re lying when they claim TRAP laws are designed to ‘protect’ women, they’re lying when they claim that laws like this are about anything other than gaining the definition and rights of ‘personhood’ for fetuses. The law only protects them if you’re using it as a springboard toward restricting or banning abortion.

  • vulgarism
    • Shan

      That’s hilarious and sad at the same time.