This essay needs some explanation to people who live outside of Colorado. Colorado has been chosen to be a lightning rod for the antiabortion people. This year is the third time they have proposed an amendment to the state’s constitution that would give “personhood” to a fetus–even to a fertilized ovum!
Although this article may not be relevant to people who live outside of Colorado, if we are not careful the “personhood” movement may spread across states–and across countries.
If you live in Colorado, be certain to vote against Amendment 67. If you live elsewhere, please wish us good luck!
Some people are trying to take political advantage of a tragic accident. In 2012 a drunk driver turned left in front of woman who was driving home from a prenatal visit. The two vehicles collided and the woman’s airbag exploded. She survived, but her fetus was killed by the impact.
The intoxicated man had had multiple prior tickets for drunk driving. By Colorado law at that time, drunk driving was only a misdemeanor unless it resulted in the injury or death of a person. This added insult to injury since the infant was not a person, and thus the drunkard got off with a light sentence.
Fortunately the law has been changed. In June of this year the Governor Hickenlooper signed into law: “The civil remedy for unlawful termination of pregnancy act.” The purpose of the law is “to provide an appropriate civil remedy to a woman who suffers an unlawful termination of her pregnancy….” This makes Amendment 67 unnecessary.
Importantly, this new law stresses that the law cannot be construed to confer “any rights… upon a human being at any time prior to birth”. Furthermore, it provides that no woman or healthcare worker can be prosecuted for an injury to her pregnancy caused by any action or inaction.
What is this all about? Amendment 67 is the third attempt of people who are against abortion to establish that a fetus—even an embryo and most ridiculously, a fertilized egg—is a legal “person”. This “personhood” would give it the same protection of law as a walking, talking individual.
It would seem that the ultimate goal of this legal maneuvering is to limit or to outlaw all abortions. But if this is so, why aren’t the people who are pushing “personhood” honest and just propose an amendment that would outlaw all abortions? Why are they sneaky and going this devious legal route? The people of Colorado have already passed a law to protect a fetus from “unlawful termination”. This amendment would increase governmental probing into and control of our personal lives. Reproduction should remain private!
I can only guess at the deceitful thinking that is motivating this amendment. It is likely that antiabortion forces are exploiting the drunk-driving tragedy mentioned above.
The writers of this proposed amendment should disclose three important facts to make it more truthful. Amendment 67 is totally unnecessary because there already is a law to cover this. Furthermore, the proposed amendment has been worded so that it could be interpreted to outlaw all abortions. Even worse, it could be construed to prevent the use of some of the most effective methods of birth control.
IUDs are now recognized to be significantly more effective than hormonal contraceptive methods such as “the pill”. Medical science has found that IUDs do not cause an abortion. Many of the people who are against abortion are also against contraception, and ignore the scientific evidence and would try to outlaw IUDs.
If this amendment were to become law, women who had a miscarriage would be vulnerable to investigation by law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, desperate women who tried to self-abort could be guilty of murder.
An evangelical professor and historian, Randall Balmer, writes about the hypocrisy of the Religious Right’s movement against abortion in his book “Thy Kingdom Come—an Evangelical’s Lament”. He describes what he calls the “abortion myth”, that the RR has always been against abortion. Indeed, some of the leaders of the movement were initially in favor of abortion when it became legal in our country, in 1973. Instead, he claims, when too many evangelicals were leaving their spouses abortion became a political football. Balmer writes that in the late 1970s there was a conference call among evangelical leaders to discuss strategy. They realized that they had the makings of a broad political movement but needed a cause. “A voice said ‘How about abortion’. And that is how abortion was cobbled into the agenda of the Religious Right.”
Even if you are against most abortions, sometimes abortion is necessary to save a woman’s life, and almost everyone feels that legal abortion should be available to survivors of rape and incest.
There have been two prior attempts (in 2008 and 2010) in Colorado to establish legal “personhood” for a fetus by amending our constitution. In each case over 70% of voters cast their ballots against those amendments. Please vote in this election, and please recognize that Amendment 67 is not needed. Indeed, the amendment is a devious attempt to control women.
© Richard Grossman MD, 2014