You know it is election time when the anti-abortion supporters get really active. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with the democratic process and free speech. However, doesn't it seem more than a little hypocritical to use a democracy to limit a woman's freedom to chose what is best for her?
The reason I raise this issue here is simple. Reproductive technology, after all is a two way street. Your right to chose necessarily includes your access to assisted reproduction. If the government sets strict limits on abortion it is only a matter of time when it also does so for assisted reproduction.
The group Colorado for Equal Rights submitted 131,245 signatures to place an initiative on the November statewide ballot that would define a fertilized embryo as a person and extend to it rights and protections under the Colorado Constitution, the Denver Post reports. According to the Post, 76,000 valid signatures are required. Signatures submitted by the Tuesday deadline will need to be validated by the Colorado Secretary of State's office (Draper, Denver Post, 5/13). The initiative is seeking to amend the state constitution to define "any human being from the moment of fertilization" as a "person" for purposes of the state's constitutional provisions "relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process of law" (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 5/8).
This amendment might "encroach on everything from birth control to stem cell research to inheritance rights," said Toni Panetta, spokesperson for Protect Families, Protect Choice, a coalition of groups opposing the proposal. Panetta added that the measure also "could make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape, incest or when the life or health of a woman is at risk" (Denver Post, 5/13). She also said, "Any attempt to restrict access to health care and open the door to government intrusion is a very serious issue" (Banda, AP/Examiner.com, 5/13).
At a press conference on Tuesday, Colorado for Equal Rights founder Kristi Burton, a 20-year-old law student, said, "The main thing the constitution is supposed to do is to protect us," adding, "But who is that 'us'? There is currently no definition of person in the [state] constitution" (Denver Post, 5/13). Mark Hotaling, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Colorado, said, "Make no mistake. Come November, Colorado will be ground zero for the pro-life movement."
Political consultant Eric Sondermann said, "Whenever the [abortion] issue gets presented as a black and white choice, this is a pro-choice state," adding, "I haven't seen anything that would change that." Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center, which has written similar proposals for other states, said if the measure passes, it could serve as a test case for the U.S. Supreme Court to re-examine Roe v. Wade (AP/Examiner.com, 5/13).
The state has 30 days to validate the signatures, but Burton said she expects notification within one to two weeks (Denver Post, 5/13). Petition drives for similar initiatives are under way in Mississippi and Montana, the AP/Examiner.com reports. Efforts to enact such proposals have stalled in Georgia and Oregon (AP/Examiner.com, 5/13).
Reprinted with kind permission from http://www.nationalpartnership.org. You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.