April 20, 2024

Colorado to vote on personhood of embryo

Move not favoured by major pro-life organisations
One of the most contentious issues in modern
philosophy is “what is a person”? Are all humans persons? Are all persons
human? But for Colorado voters this is not going to be a cob-webbed academic
question, but a box to be ticked in November’s ballot. A local anti-abortion
group has succeeded in placing “the Human Life Amendment” on the ballot
by garnering 103,000 signatures on a petition. The proposed amendment says that
the words "person" or "persons" in the state constitution should
"include any human being from the moment of fertilization." If successful,
it would give embryos the same legal rights and protections to which people are

Somewhat surprisingly, the measure is not supported
by larger organisations opposed to abortion, National Right to Life and
Focus on the Family. The sponsors of the personhood amendment, Colorado Right
to Life, are at loggerheads with both, seeing them as too soft on abortion. The
other groups regard Colorado RTL as a "rogue and divisive"

"The goal is to restore
legal protection to preborn babies from the moment they are conceived, which is
the only way we’re going to stop abortion," said Leslie Hanks, vice
president of Colorado RTL. Not only abortion, say abortion supporters, but
embryo research and certain means of contraception. "Because this
amendment would define a person in a given way and expand the universe of who
persons are, it expands the reach of laws that deal with persons," said
Bill Araiza, a law professor at Loyola University in Los Angeles.

It is hard to know how successful
the measure will be in November. Even if it fails, it will at least test-drive
the tactic in other states. "This is just the first round," says
Robert Muise, a lawyer with the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, public
interest firm that has drafted language for similar efforts in Oregon, Montana
and Georgia. ~ Washington
Post, July 13