Personhood Advocates Are Trying Again in Colorado

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=pregnant&search_group=#id=70529002&src=lkn4xJvTNaeOLnqN4TIRZg-1-74">pedrosala</a>/Shutterstock

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers debated and passed the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, which allows prosecutors to press additional charges for “unlawful termination of a pregnancy” if an unborn child is killed in the course of a crime committed against its mother. But “personhood” advocates in the state are not happy with it.

The law was spurred by a 2010 case in which a pregnant woman was hit by a car and lost the baby. The law, which Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper signed last month, explicitly states that it does not recognize the unborn child as a separate person from the mother, nor can it be used to prosecute a woman for attempting to terminate the pregnancy.

Reproductive rights groups called the law “thoughtfully crafted.” Many other states have passed laws in recent years attempting to deal with harm done to an unborn child that have treated the fetus as a separate person. As I’ve reported here before, those laws have resulted in a number of cases in which women are put on trial for harm or perceived harm to their fetus (like this recent case in Mississippi). Women’s rights groups say that, by treating the fetus as a separate person, these laws actually do more harm than good for women and open the door to outlawing abortion. Colorado’s law is written specifically to prevent it from being used for purposes other than its original intent.

But the new law does not go far enough for anti-abortion groups in the state—particularly the Colorado Personhood Coalition, as Jason Salzman reports. They want another law on the books that specifically designates “unborn human beings” as separate people in the criminal code and allows for homicide or wrongful death prosecutions on their behalf. Personhood advocates are currently petitioning to get that measure on the ballot in 2014.

Colorado was the birthplace of the “personhood” movement, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it’s where advocates are now trying yet again. In 2008, anti-abortion activists put a measure on the ballot that would have granted fertilized eggs all the rights of living humans, which would outlaw abortion at any point in a pregnancy. The measure failed by a 73 to 27 percent margin. Undeterred, anti-abortion advocates tried again in 2010. Voters again rejected it by a 3 to 1 margin. Now they’re just using a slightly different approach to try to reach the same end.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate