by Jack Minor –
A local resident who is heavily involved in the pro-life movement says despite claims by abortion advocates, personhood is not dead and a new proposal addresses misinformation presented by opponents the last time around.
Dennis Hoshiko, one of the key leaders backing the Personhood movement in Colorado said they have been given the go-ahead to gather signatures to place the issue before voters again. Hoshiko is a local onion farmer and was instrumental in getting two previous personhood amendments on the ballots.
The Personhood movement is based on a statement by Supreme Court Harry Blackmun. Writing for the majority in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which created the right to an abortion, Justice Harry Blackmun said the case would collapse if “the fetus is a person” as the unborn’s “right to life would then be guaranteed by the Constitution.”
By attempting to define personhood, supporters believe a person in the womb would then qualify for protections under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
In every state where personhood has appeared on the ballot, it has been defeated. Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider and other groups pour millions of dollars into campaigns to defeat the initiatives.
Planned Parenthood, founded by eugenicist Margaret Sanger, also opposes laws requiring abortion clinics to meet the same health standards as outpatient surgery practices. The organization also strongly opposes Pregnancy Resource Centers that provide alternatives to abortions.
Critics have said that under personhood, women who have a miscarriage could be held accountable for murder and that it would outlaw all birth control.
During the last election, the state was sued over language in the “blue book” sent to voters on the issues. Sponsors of the initiative, Amendment 62 said the wording in the book lied about the measure. Among its claims were that women could be denied healthcare for miscarriages if the amendment were to pass. Similar claims were recently used in Mississippi, where a similar personhood initiative was defeated.
Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt dismissed the lawsuit, without ruling on its merits. In his ruling he said writing the guide is a legislative function and he had no jurisdiction over the issue. Hyatt also said even if the courts could do something it was too late as the books had already been mailed.
Hoshiko told the Gazette, that rather than attempt to counter the millions of dollars that liberal groups who support killing babies in the womb are able to spend, this time they are answering critics in the actual language of the initiative.
Unlike other initiatives which attempted to use medical terms and legalese which can be confusing to voters, this one uses plain common everyday language.
The initiative reads, “The right to life in this Constitution applies equally to all innocent persons.” By contrast, amendment 62 read “the term “person” shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”
Hoshiko said the movement has learned from previous defeats. “In the past we tried to keep the language simple and brief. This allowed the opposition to frame the debate and misquote it. They can’t do that as readily with what we’ve proposed this time around.”
The new proposal goes on to answer misinformation by those opposed to protecting the unborn. It simply states “the intentional killing of any innocent person is prohibited.”
Countering those who say it would outlaw all birth control, the initiative says. “Only birth control that kills a person shall be affected by this section.” This would mean that any birth control that prevents conception would remain legal.
Addressing the health of the mother and miscarriages, it says, “Medical Treatment for life threatening physical conditions intended to preserve life shall not be affected by this section” and “spontaneous miscarriages shall not be affected by this section.”
One of the reasons personhood amendments are defeated is that not everyone in the pro-life community is supportive of the movement. There are differences of opinion on whether personhood should be defined at conception, or fertilization. There are also those who fear if personhood were to pass, it could force the Supreme Court to revisit the issue and a negative ruling could set back the pro-life movement.
Hoshiko said he does not buy that argument. “How can it be worse than it is now? We are killing 3300 babies a day because of abortion.”
Abortions supporters say that after two defeats, personhood advocates should realize they have lost the battle and stop all efforts to pass the amendments.
National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Pro-Choice Executive Director Emilie Ailts said. “I think that (this latest initiative) is flying in the face of the wishes of the voters in this state.”
Hoshiko said he is undeterred; pointing out that personhood receives more support each time it is put before voters.