Laws increasing restrictions on abortion were passed at a record clip following the 2010 midterm elections, but seem to have cooled a bit as the 2012 election comes into focus. One organization in Colorado, however, wants to place the abortion discussion back on its state-wide agenda, and has, through a recent petition submission, slotted a measure on the state ballot that, if passed, would effectively eliminate abortion in the state.
The measure, submitted by the Colorado Personhood Coalition, seeks to ensure that any “intentional killing of any innocent person is prohibited.” In the measure’s language, a person is defined as “every member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development.” As such, its passage would appear to eliminate all legalized abortion, including in instances of rape or incest.
CPC submitted a petition to the state legislature on Monday carrying over 121,000 signatures, nearly 40,000 more than was required.
The regulations would also prevent access to “birth control that kills a person,” as well as any medical treatment or assisted reproductive practices that offer the same result. Such banned birth control would include intrauterine devices, known as IUDs.
It is unclear, however, whether or not birth control would also be prohibited should the measure pass. The initiative is similar in language to a 2011 bill that failed in Mississippi, which, according to a Personhood USA spokesperson, would have either restricted or banned use of the birth control pill.
Jennifer Mason, communications director for Personhood USA, told TPM that it remained unclear whether or not the birth control pill was an abortifacient and thus likely to be banned under the proposed Colorado measure.
“We know that IUDs can cause abortion, but a lot of women don’t know that,” Mason said. “I think that as far as the birth control pill, I have a right to know if the pill causes an abortion, but we just don’t know. So I’d think that pharmaceutical companies should be the ones to inform us — I think women have a right to know.”
The measure is nearly identical to a pair of measures put before Colorado voters in both 2008 and 2010. Interestingly, the newest measure presents the third definition proposed in defining the term “person.” In 2008, the measure would have defined a person as “a human being from the moment of fertilization,” while in 2010 the definition was changed to “the beginning of biological development.”
Both the 2008 and 2010 measures failed, though Mason attributes the losses to well-monied misinformation attacks from pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood.
Crystal Clinkenbeard, the communications director for NO Personhood, told TPM that there’s little reason to think the 2012 measure will see a different result than the previous two.
“There’s absolutely no reason to believe momentum would be on their side,” Clinkenbeard said. “They’re fighting this political battle over and over again, trying to continue to punish rape and incest victims. … Colorado is pro-choice state. We’ve had statewide votes on abortion going back to 1984, and overwhelmingly Colorado voters say these are personal decisions.”
Clinkenbeard added that the new language in the 2012 version only served to make the proposal less concrete.
“They’ve really pretty radically changed the language in the ballot measure, and unfortunately it’s only served to make it more vague, and therefore more dangerous,” Clinkenbeard said. “[This] amendment is about banning abortion in Colorado with no exceptions.”