Colorado abortion amendment campaign gets going
DENVER — A ballot measure that would bar abortions in every circumstance and even ban emergency contraception is back before Colorado voters this fall — but the campaigns for and against it are toned down from two years ago.
That's because Colorado voters roundly rejected the measure to give citizenship rights to fertilized embryos in 2008, defeating the so-called "personhood" amendment by a 3-to-1 margin. This year, abortion opponents petitioned the idea onto ballots again in a slightly different form, and abortion-rights supporters are launching a scaled-back attack on the measure.
"It's a sneaky attempt to provide constitutional and legal rights to a fertilized egg," said Fofi Mendez, campaign director for the No on 62 Campaign, a group of abortion-rights supporters such as Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
Mendez's group drew about 100 to a rally on the Capitol steps Tuesday to blast the proposal. Doctors and nurses joined the rally, and speakers talked about the wide variety of groups opposed to the amendment, including the Colorado Medical Society.
Mendez said her group would spend just over $1 million this fall campaigning against the ballot measure. But that's less than the $1.7 million the same coalition spent in 2008 to defeat the amendment. Even the group's yard signs and stickers have been recycled, just substituting out the new amendment number (62) for the old one. Coalition members seemed confident they'd beat back the amendment again.
"We'll do what it takes to win again," said the campaign's spokeswoman, Laura Chapin.
About a dozen abortion opponents heckled the rally, shouting "liar" and "traitor" to speakers who oppose the amendment. The amendment is very similar to the one rejected here and in other states in 2008; this year's version would amend the state constitution to define a person as "from the moment of biological development."
Drew Hymer, a volunteer for the Personhood Colorado group pushing the measure, said its passage would ban abortion and set up a showdown with the federal government over the procedure. Hymer said the measure's adoption could even be interpreted to ban emergency contraception, or the so-called "morning-after pill."
"It would ban anything that would kill an embryo after conception," he said.
Hymer said the abortion opponents would not have nearly as much money as the coalition fighting the amendment and would not have money for television advertising. He said efforts would be focused on churches over the six Sundays before Coloradans can start voting by mail. The group has sent four-minute DVDs promoting the amendment to churches across the state.
Colorado is the only state this year that will consider a "personhood" amendment. Efforts to put the question on ballots in other state have failed, and several state legislatures have also rejected "personhood" amendments. The Personhood USA group has not been backed by some of the nation's most prominent abortion opponents, such as National Right to Life and the Catholic church.