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Feminist News


September-28-10

CO Sued Over Voter Guide Personhood Language

Supporters of a Colorado ballot initiative that could ban abortion statewide filed a lawsuit last week alleging that the state's legislative guide is providing voters with biased and incorrect information about the initiative. According to United Press International, Personhood Colorado, a group that aims to pass the so-called "personhood" ballot initiative called Amendment 62, claims that Colorado's 2010 Blue Book, a state approved ballot information booklet, provides information about the proposed amendment that is biased against it. The Colorado Blue Book, which has been mailed to voters, provides voters with arguments for and against each initiative on the ballot. The 2010 Blue Book has already been mailed to voters. United Press International reports that the group's president, Keith Mason, stated that the Blue Book information "parrots the talking points" of the initiative's opponents.

Personhood Colorado alleges that the booklet does not provide sufficient information about the positives of the proposed amendment. "The 'Arguments For' section is weak and does not include most of the arguments for Amendment 62," Gualberto Garcia-Jones of Personhood Colorado told the Denver Daily News. The group also claims that the booklet provides false information, disputing the Blue Book's statement that the "beginning of the biological development" is "not defined within the measure, has no established legal meaning, and is not an accepted medical or scientific term," according to the Denver Daily News. Personhood Colorado is also denying the booklet's claim that the initiative could result in the denial of medical care for emergency procedures in cases such as miscarriage.

Though challenges to the language in Colorado's Blue Book are not uncommon in the state, such complaints are typically dismissed. The Denver Daily News indicates that in recent state history, the booklet language has never been forced to change due to such complaints. Colorado's Legislative Council has emphasized to voters that its language is determined by a comprehensive public process.

Amendment 62, or the "personhood" ballot initiative (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 last year (see PDF) 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.

Media Resources: United Press International 9/22/10; Denver Daily News 9/22/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/29/10