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Feminist News


March-05-10

CO Personhood Initiative Petition Drive Falling Short

The Colorado Secretary of State announced Wednesday that the petition drive to put "personhood" on the state ballot has not gathered enough signatures. Personhood Colorado, the group running the petition drive, now has until March 15 to gather 15,000 more valid signatures, reported the Colorado Independent.

The group submitted 79,817 signatures, just 3,770 more than is necessary to certify the measure in February. Several thousand signatures are routinely thrown out during the signature validation process, thus causing the shortfall in the Secretary of State's count. Supporters of the measure submitted well under the 131,000 signatures submitted to certify a similar measure for the 2008 election.

The measure (see PDF) seeks to amend the state constitution so that "the term 'person' shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being." The proposed measure goes further than Amendment 48, which was defeated in the 2008 elections by 73 to 27 percent and was a personhood initiative that declared a fertilized egg to be a person who enjoys all constitutional rights "relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law."

If the initiative passes, it would not only put a woman's right to an abortion in danger but also threaten oral and emergency contraception, IUDs, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) signed a bill (see PDF) last year that legally defines 'contraceptive' and 'contraception' as "a medically acceptable drug, device, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy." The bill was intended to prevent future legal challenges similar to the Amendment 48 campaign in the 2008 election cycle.

Currently, petition drives and legal cases for so-called "personhood initiatives" are underway in Alaska, Florida, New Hampshire, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, and Nevada.

Media Resources: Colorado Independent 3/4/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 2/17/10