Colorado Fetal Personhood, Initiative 62 (2010)

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The Colorado Fetal Personhood Initiative, also known as Initiative 62, was on the 2010 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.[1] The measure would have applied the term "person" in Colorado constitutional provisions relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law to human beings from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.[2]

The measure marked the second time Colorado voters saw an personhood-related measure on the statewide ballot. Amendment 48 appeared on the November 2008 statewide ballot in Colorado, where it was decisively defeated.[3][4]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results
Colorado Initiative 62 (2010)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,218,49070.53%
Yes 509,062 29.47%

Election results via: Colorado Secretary of State - official 2010 general election results

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution applying the term "person," as used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law, to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being?[5]

Constitutional changes

See also: Colorado Constitution

The 2010 version would have amended Article II of the Colorado Constitution by the addition of a new section, Section 32, which read:

Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person" shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.

The amendment language was written by Dianne Irving.[6]

Background

The 2010 measure was the second time Colorado voters saw an abortion-related measure on the statewide ballot; the first being in 2008. Amendment 48 appeared on the 2008 ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure was defeated 73% to 27%.

2008 proposal vs. 2010

Abortion on the ballot in 2010
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See also: Colorado Definition of Person Initiative, Amendment 48 (2008)

The 2008 version defined a person as "any human being from the moment of fertilization," whereas the 2010 version defined a person as "every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."[7][8]

The 2010 proposed amendment did not include the word "fertilization" in it.[6]

According to Gualberto Garcia Jones, Colorado Personhood director and proponent of the initiative, the change in language was made in order to be more "comprehensive in our definition of a person." For example, Jones noted that the new language accounted for human beings created through asexual reproduction in laboratories. "Fertilization would not have properly applied to asexually reproduced humans, but even asexually reproduced human beings have a definite biological beginning," said Jones.[9]

Support

Two groups supported the 2010 effort: Colorado Right to Life and Personhood USA, which had a Colorado branch, Colorado Personhood. In May 2010 Republican 2010 gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis announced he supported Amendment 62.[10]

Argument

In comparison to the 2008 effort, goals laid out by supporters - Colorado Right to Life and Personhood USA - for 2010 included:[7]

  • Being better-funded.
  • Being better able to articulate their message.
  • Introducing a measure that's more accurately worded.
  • Having spokespeople for the 2010 proposed amendment were veterans of the anti-abortion/pro-life movement with more experience than Kristi Burton, who ran the 2008 effort.

Donors

The Personhood Colorado Campaign filed three waivers from Colorado's major donor requirements. If the secretary of state denied the waivers, the campaign faced up to $3,400 in fines for reports they failed to submit.[11] As of August 14, 2010 the Colorado Secretary of State had not issued any official discipline towards Personhood Colorado on the major donor disclosure reports.[12]

Campaign advertising

In late July 2010, Personhood Colorado unveiled a radio ad. According to reports, the radio ad compared the rights of fetuses to American slaves. A fictitious slave named George Stevens said, "I fought so all slaves would be recognized as persons, not property, and we won. But today in Colorado there are sill people called property Ń children Ń just like I was. And that America you thought you wouldn’t recognize is all around you, and these children are being killed. I fought so all slaves would be recognized as persons, not property, and we won." The ad asked voters to vote "yes" because the measure said that unborn children were persons and not property. The ad concluded with, "And that’s the America I fought for."[13]

Criticism

In mid-August a RHRealityCheck.org article appeared on FireDogLake.com's The Seminal arguing that the released radio ad "is laughable and it fails to explain Amendment 62 to an electorate that already rejected fetal 'personhood' in 2008." The article, written by Pamela Merritt for RH Reality Check, went on to state that the radio ad not only compared the rights of fetuses to American slaves but "promote a 'documentary' that makes the charge that the most dangerous place for a Black baby is in a Black woman’s womb, they are attacking Black women’s capacity to parent and make health care decisions."[14]

Tactics and strategies

In July 2010 supporters launched MyCampaignTracker.org, a website for supporters of Amendment 62. Participants of the campaign could log their contributions and check where help was needed.[15][16][17]

On July 16, Pastor Walter Hoye, Founder and President of Issues4Life, sponsor of the recent California Human Life ballot initiative, initiated a statewide tour in Colorado in favor of Amendment 62. According to reports, the tour focused on both Catholic and Protestant churches. "Passing Amendment 62 this November not only reflects what the Pro-Life movement will look like victorious, it sends a very clear message: 'Persons are not property.' Vote YES for Amendment 62," said Pastor Hoye.[18]

Opposition

In late April 2010 Protect Families Protect Choices announced they launched an "aggressive" campaign against Amendment 62. The campaign pointed to the results of a 2008 ballot question that was rejected by an estimated 1.7 million voters. Jeremy Shaver, executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, said, "In 2008, voters learned that the 'definition of a person' amendment was an overt attempt to insert religion into law. We will fight once again to make sure Coloradans know the truth about Amendment 62."[19]

Other groups that opposed the amendment included: National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and the Coalition for Secular Government.

Arguments

  • Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, whose spokesperson Jacy Montoya said that the 2008 vote indicated that Colorado voters are "uncomfortable with the government and strangers making personal decisions for families."[7]
  • Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, whose senior vice president Leslie Durgin said, "If this gets on the ballot, we’re prepared to fight it and educate the voters."[6]
    • Monica McCafferty of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said, "The new initiative has the same goal as Amendment 48, to ban all abortion even in the cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is in danger."[9]
    • Following the launch of the opposition campaign, Durgin said, "Amendment 62 is bad policy, bad law and bad medicine. It was a bad idea in 2008 and it is still a bad idea now. Amendment 62 would insert the government into the personal, private health care decisions that women and their families make every single day."[20]
  • The Coalition for Secular Government argued that "personhood" would have been dangerous to women and their doctors, conflicted with an objective theory of rights in pregnancy, and violated the separation of church and state. Ari Armstrong and Dr. Diana Hsieh wrote, "Amendment 62 rests on the absurd premise that a newly fertilized zygote is a full human person with an absolute right to biological life-support from a woman--regardless of her wishes and whatever the cost to her. The biological facts of pregnancy, in conjunction with an objective theory of rights, support a different view, namely that personhood and rights begin at birth. Colorado law should reflect those facts, not the Bible verses so often quoted (and creatively interpreted) by advocates of Amendment 62 ..."[21]
  • Steven Ertelt, founder and editor of LifeNews.com, a Christian anti-abortion news site, wrote in a December 21, 2010, article on RedState.com that, "In order to defeat Obama and ultimately stop abortions, personhood amendments must be put aside in 2012 so the pro-life community can focus on the number one goal: installing a pro-life president who will put the nation in a position to legally protect unborn children. ... Without putting amendments aside and putting the focus on the 2012 elections, abortion on demand could remain in place for another 37 years."[22]

Donors

Coalition for a Secular Government, the opponents of Amendment 62, had no large donor reports on file with the Colorado Secretary of State.[23]

Tactics and strategies

On August 31 opponents kicked off their campaign at the Colorado state capitol. Opponents chanted "no on 62," among other things. The rally was attended by Vicky Cowart, president of the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Cowart said, "Amendment 62 is dangerous. It eliminates a woman's right to make personal, private decisions about her body and her health, and it invites politicians, lawyers, and the courts into the relationship between a woman and her doctor."[24] However, according to reports, on the very same day proponents also met at the capitol to voice their opinions on Amendment 62.[25][26][27]

Controversies

According to reports, supporters argued that opponents exaggerated the consequences of the proposed amendment. Opponents said the measure would change about 20,000 Colorado statutes and prohibit abortions in all cases regardless of the health of the mother, rape or incest. They also said that it would end scientific studies and industries. Additionally, they noted that women may lose various forms of birth control and become partially liable for complications during pregnancy. These claims, said Personhood Colorado Director Gualberto Garcia Jones, were exaggerated. According to Jones the amendment would have had an impact on reproductive health but not to the extent that opponents had stated. Jones said the measure would have included "eliminating abortion, ending stem cell research and greatly changing the method by which in vitro fertilization is conducted."[28]

Media editorial positions

Main article: Endorsements of Colorado ballot measures, 2010

Opposition

  • ColoradoBallot.net, a local blog, was opposed to Amendment 62. The blog stated, in part, "This is a question that does belong on the ballot (one of the few). But I think this is way more extreme than what the people of this state want. We should have a discussion of what point in the pregnancy we as a people want to say abortion is no longer allowed. And we should put it to a vote. But this proposal should be shot down."[29]
  • TimesCall.com was opposed to Amendment 62. In an editorial, the board said, "Two years ago, 73 percent of Colorado voters rejected the personhood amendment. This is essentially the same amendment. While the amendment’s sponsors are sincere, voters have already spoken. Vote against."[30]
  • The Denver Post was opposed to Amendment 62. In an editorial, the board said, "Obviously, the intent of the law is to defeat the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which defined a fetus as a person once it entered a pregnancy's third trimester. That definition prevents states from arguing that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows them to outlaw abortion. Again, reasonable people can disagree on the merits of abortion. But the "personhood" amendment's attempt to end the established practices under Roe vs. Wade would usher in far too many unintended consequences. Vote "no" on Amendment 62.[31]
  • The Steamboat Today was opposed to all constitutional amendments on the Colorado 2010 ballot. "After careful consideration of the nine statewide ballot questions being put before voters this fall, we once again have reached the conclusion that proposed amendments to Colorado’s constitution too often are being used to effect changes in public policy that are better left to the legislative branch and the courts," said the editorial board.[32]
  • The Coloradoan was opposed to the proposed measure. "As we said in 2008 when we recommended a vote against that year's proposal, regardless of how one feels about the issue of abortion, this proposal would carry broad and perhaps unintended consequences if approved by voters. Vote "no" on Amendment 62," said the editorial board.[33]
  • The Durango Herald was opposed. "A badly written assault on women's reproductive freedom, the "personhood" amendment would end all abortions - even in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life. What else it might do would be decided by endless court cases," said the editorial board.[34]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
  • An October 19-21, 2010 poll by SurveyUSA for the Denver Post and 9-News revealed that 20% of polled voters supported Amendment 62, while 56% were opposed and 25% were undecided. According to reports, the poll had a margin of error of 4.2-4.3 percent. A total of 540 voters were polled.[35][36]
Legend

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Oct. 19-21, 2010 SurveyUSA 20% 56% 25% 540

Lawsuit against Colorado's Blue Book

On September 21, 2010 Amendment 62 supporters filed a lawsuit against the Colorado Legislative Council to stop distribution of the 2010 State Voter Guide, also known as The Blue Book. Supporters argued that the Blue Book mislead voters and misstated facts about the measure. According to reports, the voter guide was available online for several days prior to the lawsuit and an estimated 1.8 million copies had been sent to voters in the state. The legislative council met on September 1 to discuss and approve the final wording for the pamphlet but according to supporters, they did not see the wording until September 20.[37][38]

Specifically supporters complained that none of the submitted arguments were used in the guide and several erroneous statements were made. Some of the falsehoods that supporters pointed to, included: statements from opponents that women would be denied health care for certain emergency procedures including miscarriages; statements that doctors and nurses could be subjected to legal action; and the statement that the "beginning of the biological development" was "not an accepted medical or scientific term." The lawsuit alleged that the Legislative Council was biased. "This has the result that the ballot information booklet is, in effect, one big argument against Amendment 62," stated the lawsuit.[39]

The 2010 Blue Book can be found here.

Challenge dismissed

On September 30, 2010 Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt dismissed the filed lawsuit. Judge Hyatt agreed with the Legislative Council attorneys that the courts did not have a say in the matter. According to reports, the attorneys had argued that the writing of the Blue Book is a legislative function. Additionally, Judge Hyatt concluded that it was simply too late to make any changes to the state's voters guide. "Everyone in this room has probably received their Blue Book. This court is in no position to wander around the state picking them up," said Hyatt.[40][41]

Measure supporters said they were likely to file an appeal. Gualberto Garcia-Jones, director of Personhood Colorado, one of the groups backing Amendment 62, said, "I think it is apparent that the court believes there is no authority over the Colorado Legislative Council, and that is scary. The Colorado Legislative Council can print anything they want to based on their own prejudices, and my tax dollars have to pay for it."[42][43]

On October 12 Amendment 62 supporters announced that they planed to file an appeal against the dismissal of a challenge against the state's voter guide.[44]

Path to the ballot

See also: Colorado signature requirements and 2010 ballot measure petition signature costs

A ballot title for the measure was approved on August 5, 2009.[45] Supporters were required to submit 76,047 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2010 ballot by February 12, 2010. The previously stated deadline for signature submissions was February 15, however, on January 22 the Colorado Secretary of State's office said it had made a mistake and the deadline was actually 3 days earlier. Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of Personhood Colorado, said, "We're upset by it. That last weekend is critical."[46] On March 26, 2010 the Colorado Secretary of State certified the proposed amendment after determining that supporters had collected a total of 95,884 valid signatures, surpassing the minimum requirement of 76,047 signatures.[47][48]

Signature summary

1st attempt:

  • Number of submitted signatures (1st attempt): 79,648
  • Valid signatures (1st attempt): 60,357

2nd attempt:

  • Number of additional submitted signatures (2nd attempt): 47,114
  • Valid signatures (2nd attempt): 35,527

Total statistics:

  • Minimum number of required signatures: 76,047
  • Total submitted signatures: 126,762
  • Total number of valid signatures: 95,884

Submitted signatures

Approximately 79,817 signatures were submitted in mid-February, 3,770 more than the required number of valid signatures to certify the measure for the ballot.[49][50][51] On March 3, the Colorado Secretary of State announced that filed petitions fell short of the required 76,047 signatures. Supporters had until March 18 to collect additional signatures.[52] A random sample of 5 percent of the submitted signatures revealed 960 invalid signatures; thus according to the secretary of state's office only 60,357 were valid signatures.[53][54]

On March 18, 2010 supporters filed an additional 46,671 signatures with the secretary of state's office. A minimum of 15,690 were required to meet the number of valid signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot.[55]

On March 26, 2010 the Colorado Secretary of State certified the proposed amendment after determining that supporters had collected a total of 95,884 valid signatures, surpassing the minimum requirement of 76,047 signatures.[56][57]

Petition requirement lawsuit

On March 18, 2010, in addition to submitting additional signatures, personhood supporters announced they planed to file a lawsuit against a state petition requirement adopted in 2009. Specifically, the lawsuit challenged the requirement that petition circulators had to provide an acceptable form of identification to notary publics. This requirement, according to supporters, is what led to signatures being marked invalid after the first signature submission.[58]

According to reports, in the notary section of the affidavit - "Evidence used to establish ID" - many notaries wrote, "I've known the circulator for 30 years." According to Gualberto Garcia Jones, initiative co-sponsor, the need for a form of identification, such as a driver's license, was never made clear to circulators. The secretary of state's office argued that the petition circulator training guides had been available since July 2009.

The guide stated: "To complete the affidavit, provide your printed name and residential street address. Additionally, you must present an acceptable form of identification to the notary public."[59]

Keith Mason of Personhood USA said, "The current instruction booklet for notaries says 'personal knowledge' is acceptable." According to reports, Mason argued that state officials were also unaware of the new law.[60]

See also

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Related measures

Defeatedd Colorado Definition of Person Initiative (2008)

Articles

External links

Support

Opposition

See also

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External links

Additional reading

References

  1. The Durango Herald, "Colo. voters reject ballot initiatives," November 4, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 Colorado State Legislative Council, "Ballot History," accessed February 27, 2014
  3. PersonhoodUSA press release announcing the campaign for the proposed amendment
  4. The Durango Herald, "Fetuses would be people under Amendment 62," October 7, 2010
  5. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Colorado Statesman, "Personhood amendment revised and revived," July 3, 2009
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Colorado Springs Gazette, "Groups to make another try for 'personhood' measure," June 29, 2009
  8. Huffington Post, "Fetal Personhood Amendment Returns With A Vengeance," June 1, 2010
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Colorado Independent, "Personhood initiative lining up friends and foes," October 27, 2009
  10. The Colorado Independent, "McInnis, once clearly pro-choice, embraces anti-abortion personhood," May 11, 2010
  11. Colorado TRACER "Committee Detail-Personhood Colorado"
  12. Confirmed with CO SOS via phone on August 14, 2010
  13. The Denver Daily News, "Are fetuses like slaves?:Personhood campaign announces radio spot and strategy," July 27, 2010
  14. FireDogLake.com - The Seminal, "Fetuses as Slaves? I Don’t Think So," August 20, 2010
  15. My Campaign Tracker, "Main Page," accessed July 12, 2010
  16. The Denver Daily News, "A62 campaign announced: ‘Personhood’ proponents launch campaign to essentially ban abortion in Colorado," July 12, 2010
  17. The Denver Post, "Backers of ‘personhood’ measure regroup," July 27, 2010
  18. Christian Newswire, "Colorado Amendment 62 Kicks Off Personhood Tour Featuring Pastor Walter Hoye," July 15, 2010
  19. The Denver Daily News, "Personhood fight begins Opposition mounts campaign against pro-life ballot question," April 30, 2010
  20. The Colorado Independent, "Anti-‘personhood’ coalition regroups, begins campaign," May 4, 2010
  21. Ari Armstrong and Diana Hsieh, The 'Personhood' Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception, Coalition for Secular Government, August 31, 2010
  22. "Put Personhood Amendments Aside to Defeat Obama, Stop Abortion," retrieved December 22, 2010
  23. Colorado Secretary of State-TRACER "Committee Detail-Coalition for a Secular Government"
  24. KUNC, "Personhood Amendment Draws Fire, Praise," August 31, 2010
  25. The Denver Daily News, "Clash over Personhood: Both sides of abortion debate meet at Capitol to voice opinions," September 1, 2010
  26. KWGN, "'Personhood' foes ready for round two," August 31, 2010
  27. The Colorado Statesman, "Yes/no sides battle over Amendment 62," September 3, 2010
  28. The Colorado Independent, "Personhood’s Jones says amendment’s effects exaggerated but real," July 15, 2010
  29. ColoradoBallot.net, "62: Outlaw Abortion," accessed September 7, 2010
  30. TimesCall.com, "Seven of nine ballot issues too costly for state," October 6, 2010
  31. The Denver Post, "Reject the return of "personhood,"" October 1, 2010
  32. Steamboat Today, "Our View: Vote 'no' on state amendments," October 20, 2010
  33. Coloradoan, "Voters, reject citizen-initiated amendments," October 27, 2010
  34. The Durango Herald, "Endorsements," October 24, 2010
  35. 9-News, "Poll: Colorado ballot issues continue uphill battles," October 25, 2010
  36. LifeNews, "Second Poll: Colorado Personhood Amendment Likely to Lose," October 25, 2010
  37. The Denver Post, "Personhood proponents sue over analysis in Colorado voter Blue Book," September 22, 2010
  38. WorldNetDaily, "Colorado sued over 'lies' in heated abortion battle,"September 21, 2010
  39. The Denver Daily News, "Personhood files suit," September 22, 2010
  40. The Denver Post, "Backers of Amendment 62 lose Blue Book challenge," October 1, 2010
  41. Medical News Today, "Colo. Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Description Of 'Personhood' Ballot Initiative," October 5, 2010
  42. Huffington Post, "'Personhood' Amendment's Lawsuit Over Colorado Blue Book Dismissed," September 30, 2010
  43. World Net Daily, "Lawsuit: Colorado government 'biased' toward abortion," October 2, 2010
  44. The Denver Post, "Personhood amendment supporters: Court battle isn't over yet," October 12, 2010
  45. Denver Post, "Colorado "Personhood" proposal's 2010 ballot title approved," August 6, 2009
  46. The Durango Herald, "Deadline for Colorado personhood amendment moved up," January 23, 2010
  47. 9News, "Voters to be asked a 2nd time about abortion," March 28, 2010
  48. KDVR Denver, "Taxes, personhood, possibly health care set for November ballot," March 29, 2010
  49. Ms. Magazine, "Signatures Submitted for New CO Personhood Initiative," February 17, 2010
  50. The Associated Press, "Group: Enough signatures gathered to put personhood on ballot," February 14, 2010
  51. Colorado Springs Independent, "Personhood on the edge," February 15, 2010
  52. The Daily Sentinel, "Ballot initiative defining a person short on signatures," March 3, 2010
  53. KUSA-TV, "'Definition of Person' ballot initiative short signatures," March 3, 2010
  54. Associated Press, "Abortion amendment faces new Colorado deadline," March 18, 2010
  55. Associated Press, "Colo. abortion foes say they cleared petition bar," March 18, 2010
  56. The Cypress Times, "Personhood Certified to be on Colorado Ballot," March 28, 2010
  57. HULIQ, "Colorado to vote on anti-abortion initative in November," March 27, 2010
  58. The Denver Channel, "Personhood Supporters Turn In Signatures, Threaten Lawsuit," March 18, 2010
  59. The Denver Daily News, "Personhood proponents plan lawsuit," March 19, 2010
  60. World Net Daily, "Critical 'personhood' plan revived by volunteers," March 19, 2010