Proponents of personhood–the political and legal proposition that the unborn child should be recognized as a person entitled to protection under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, thereby making abortion illegal–have hoped that a state would enact a personhood amendment. Such legislation would be the means whereby the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the laws that gave the U.S. abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy.
Though there is no evidence the Supreme Court is sympathetic to the personhood proposition–even Justice Scalia has commented negatively–the proposition has been tried many times. It has lost in very pro-life states that some would think would be sympathetic, including North Dakota and Mississippi. It has lost twice before in Colorado, the home of Personhood USA.
It is roiling the current Senate campaign in Colorado because the personhood people have brought it to a vote once more, and the Republican candidate for the Senate, Representative Corey Gardner, who once supported it, no longer does.
Gardner supported the personhood amendment in 2008 and 2010, but because it failed both times, he has determined the people have spoken; therefore, he no longer supports this particular approach.
Of course, his change of heart has caused personhood partisans to go on the attack against him. Moreover, his Democratic opponent, Senator Mark Udall and his allies, are using Gardner’s past support as a very effective weapon against him. Opponents charge that the personhood amendment would not only outlaw abortion, but would outlaw contraception, as well, though proponents insist contraception would remain untouched.
Pro-life leaders remain sympathetic to Gardner, even though he has stepped away from the personhood approach. Though all pro-life leaders recognize the personhood of the unborn child and believe that all abortions should be illegal, they oppose personhood as a political and legal strategy. They point out that the Supreme Court is highly unlikely to use it to overturn Roe and that it is harmful in political races.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told Breitbart News:
Hyper pure pro-life legislation has spent millions of dollars in the last four election cycles, but each one has failed by double digits. To say it is a waste of resources is an extreme understatement. The courts have indicted [sic] they will not stomach a frontal challenge to Roe. All of the pro-life movement’s gains, and they are many, have come at the local level, through incremental legislation and regulatory changes. Only a pinpoint strategic strategy has closed 70% of the nation’s abortion mills and cut the abortion rate in half.