Colorado has been the scene of two bruising fights over what supporters call “personhood,” efforts to recognize the unborn child as a person under state and therefore federal law.
The “personhood” fight has come to Colorado again this year and – with little chance of passing – threatens to swamp the chances of Republican Cory Gardner’s being elected to the U.S. Senate and therefore of the GOP retaking the Senate.
This time “personhood” supporters have dressed up their issue with slightly different language. They are modeling a state constitutional amendment before the voters this fall along the lines of what are called “unborn victims of violence acts.”
After a long fight in the U.S. Congress, in 2004 President George W. Bush signed the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which makes it a felony to harm an unborn child in the commission of more than 60 different crimes. Thirty-eight states subsequently followed suit. The thing to know about all these bills is that, in order to pass constitutional muster, each explicitly exempts abortion. An unborn child may still be aborted legally, but the child is protected in law from the commission of other crimes.
What makes Colorado’s Amendment 67 different is, unlike the federal bill and all the other state bills, it does not include an exception for abortion.
Steven Ertelt, a pro-life expert and president of Colorado Citizens for Life, told Breitbart News, “This new version of the amendment is a personhood amendment that bans abortions wrapped up to look like an unborn victims measure. It won’t actually provide any protection or justice for mothers and their babies who are killed or injured in violent crimes unrelated to abortion. If the personhood amendment were miraculously approved, though it is expected to be defeated a third time by a lopsided margin, it would be immediately overturned in court as contravening Roe v. Wade, and it would not be upheld by the Supreme Court.”
Pro-life leaders have opposed “personhood” efforts because they believe they have little chance of winning statewide elections, and even if they do have little chance of getting through the Supreme Court. Not even Justice Antonin Scalia is inclined to support personhood for the unborn child. Pro-life leaders have also seen how divisive the issue can be and how such campaigns divert huge amounts of cash and attention to what has always turned out to be a losing effort.
The issue also galvanizes the pro-abortion left. Planned Parenthood has already pumped huge amounts of cash into the Colorado fight, with more coming.
Ertelt is concerned such massive attention to what he sees as a losing issue will also swamp Republican Senate Candidate Cory Garnder in a losing battle. He had supported past “personhood” efforts but has subsequently backed away, because he sees political problems with the effort.
Ertelt says, “There are better ways to protect unborn children from abortion. Everyone who is pro-life understands that an unborn child is a unique human being, or person, whose life deserves legal protection from abortion. The only way to truly stop abortions is to change the makeup of the Supreme Court by putting justices on it who understand the Fourteenth Amendment should provide protection of the right to life of all people, born and unborn.”
While unborn children have certain protections in utero – rights to inherit and be represented in court, for instance – federal law established by the Supreme Court under the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions do not protect the unborn child from abortion. In fact, these twin decisions handed down on the same day in 1973 guarantee that the unborn child may be aborted up to the moment of birth for any reason and for no reason.
The “personhood” movement seeks to overturn these Supreme Court decisions and make abortion for any reason illegal. “Personhood” bills have lost in several states, including very pro-life states like Mississippi. “Personhood” has lost by wide margins twice already in the state of Colorado.