UPDATE: Denver District Judge Robert Hyatt dismissed the lawsuit. 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 to late as the books have gone out in the mail already. “This court is in no position to wander around the state picking“ up the Blue Books.
By Jack Minor
Organizers of Amendment 62, the personhood initiative, have filed a lawsuit against the state alleging “lies” about the measure printed in the Blue Book voting manual scheduled to be sent to voters. Sponsors of the amendment say this year’s analysis of the proposal does not give voters a fair and balanced analysis of the initiative.
Dennis Hoshiko, a local onion farmer and one of the key figures behind the initiative, told the Gazette the state completely disregarded the detailed medical opinions provided by the group and instead relied totally on opinions from the opposition when printing the voter guide. Hoshiko said “the state’s allegation that the term ‘beginning of biological development’ has no basis in science is totally false. We provided them with multiple documents showing the term is well established in science.”
Gualberto Garcia-Jones, a co-sponsor of the amendment said “First, we were disallowed from including the text of the amendment in the ‘Arguments For’ section. The ‘Arguments For’ section is weak and does not include most of the arguments for Amendment 62. The Blue Book authors didn’t stop there, however, and published several falsehoods about Amendment 62. Women could never be denied health care for miscarriages with the passage of Amendment 62, yet that is one of the lies our opposition is using as a scare tactic – and one of the lies propagated by the Colorado Blue Book.”
Jones said “as soon as we saw the text online, we knew we had to do something to stop these lies from going out to Colorado voters.”
The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction as the books are already in the process of being printed and mailed. In the filing it was noted the organization provided ample evidence of peer-reviewed medical and bioethics journals as well as medical textbooks in the field of embryology which used the term and concept of the beginning of the biological development. The filing goes on to say even after receiving this information the state did not remove the assertion regarding ambiguity surrounding the beginning of biological development instead choosing to move the statement into the “arguments against” section.
Proponents initially submitted a statement regarding the claim that the beginning of biological development is not defined in the amendment saying “it is an unambiguous description of the moment of beginning of human embryonic development as described by medical and scientific resources such as ‘The Carnegie Stages of Early Human Embryonic Development’ (internationally cited and accepted including by The Human Development And Anatomy Center of the National Museum of Health & Medicine). As such, Colorado’s legislature, courts and citizenry will be able to readily and with certainty understand and apply the measure.”
The state choose to ignore this statement despite the testimony of Dr. Ward Kischer, a professor emeritus of anatomy and cell biology at the University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona. Kischer, who taught medical students for more than 30 years and has a specialty in human embryology sent a letter to State Senator Brandon Schaefer.
In the letter Kischer addresses the claim “the phrase ‘the beginning of biologic development’ is a vague terminology that is not typically used in embryology or other medical/scientific fields to define embryologic development” saying such a statement is political not scientific and that every physician in the Colorado American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who approved the statement would receive an F if they had been in his classes.
The organizers also object to the allegation that the initiative would limit treatment for miscarriages saying that since a miscarriage is a natural and spontaneous loss of a child in the womb the extended protections would have no effect upon treatment as a woman who suffers a miscarriage has by definition lost a child.
The lawsuit lists similarities regarding statements between opponents of the initiative and the statements in the blue book, while the state often ignored arguments for the proposal submitted by supporters. As an example they show the statement “the measure ensures uniform application of the term person under the law” was removed from the third draft and under the “arguments against” section inserts “the effects of Amendment 62’s change to the Constitution are unclear.”
Amendment 62 is intended to extend protections to the unborn by declaring that personhood begins from the beginning of biological development. In the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which created the right to an abortion Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority 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.”