Every now and then I come across a piece of legislation that makes me sick. Sometimes it is because of what it stands for (institutionalized discrimination like same-sex marriage bans for example) and other times it is because of how the amendment is written, and whether I am for it, or against it, I can already see the fallout. This upcoming election, however, I have a new kind of sickness and it surrounds Colorado’s Amendment 67. The reason for this new type of sickness… I have never seen such a blatant attempt at pulling a fast one over on voters like I have this one. It is this arrogance, dishonesty… and fear that its proponents will get away with it that is giving me serious tummy woes.
Amendment 67 seems wonderful because its big pitch is protecting pregnant women. Who wouldn’t want to protect pregnant women? I mean, that right there makes me think, “Yes, let’s protect them!” But this amendment is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, because it isn’t about protecting pregnant women, but in fact endangers a number of them. The gist of the amendment is that ‘unborn child’ will have the same definition as ‘person’ in Colorado’s criminal code.
PersonhoodUSA who is backing the amendment has exploited a real-life tragedy: Heather Surovik was hit by a drunk driver when she was eight months pregnant. She survived, but her unborn baby did not. This is a terrible tragedy, and I personally think the drunk driver should be charged with the murder of that baby. If this amendment was written to truly limit its scope, and protect pregnant women and their fetuses against violence done upon them – I would be the first to vote for it. But that is not what this is; this is just the pitch and official marketing ploy.
The intentionally ambiguous amendment is something sordid that the people of Colorado do not want. How do I know? Because Personhood has tried to push the issue for the last two elections and every time it comes to the people voting on it, it isn’t even close. So now they (PersonhoodUSA) has wisened up. They have tried to pass this off as something I could see every single person vote for. Who wouldn’t want to see justice for babies who don’t have the voices to speak for themselves? But this amendment is not seeking to punish people who do violence against pregnant women – it is pushing Personhood’s mission.
Personhood is a hardcore pro-life organization. They don’t try to hide it. Go to their website and it says exactly that on their homepage. I have already received my ballot for Colorado’s elections and in the ballot’s information booklet that an argument FOR this amendment being passed is, “By including unborn human beings in the definition of “person,” the measure may establish the legal foundation to protect the unborn by ending the practice of abortion in Colorado. If the Colorado Constitution recognizes an unborn human being as a person, the measure may allow a district attorney to prosecute abortion as homicide or child abuse and could limit the willingness of health care providers to perform abortions in Colorado.” And that is an argument for passing the amendment, not from its opponents. So much for Personhood’s official stance that this is not a backdoor way to block abortions.
But it gets worse. Because of its language, the amendment would also prevent certain types of medical care to women including emergency contraception and other forms of birth control, intra-uterine devices, treatment for miscarriages, tubal pregnancies, cancer and infertility treatments. Apparently that is what ‘protection’ really looks like. If that isn’t enough, its interpretation can go even further… Any birth that does not result in a live birth would initially be deemed a suspicious death. A woman who has a late-term miscarriage or gives birth to a still-born baby etc. would have to go through the song and dance of answering to police officers and their investigation of ‘what happened.’ I can’t even begin to imagine the kind a pain a woman must go through when something like this happens to her. She has lost a child, something so horrible there isn’t even a name for it. And yet, while grappling with that loss, she has to account for what happened so that she won’t be charged with ‘wrongful death’. It has happened before (hello there, Mississippi).
Personally this scares the crap out of me. And I can’t get pregnant. I want a child more than anything, and yet I see all of the wrong in this amendment. And that is before this amendment gets personal, but then it does… Many people I know in the legal and judicial field, as well as political commentators point out that this could severely limit procedures like IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), essentially banning them as well. How? Nearly every component of IVF carries a substantial risk that embryos will not survive treatment/implantation. Basically, you try and still the numbers are against you for actually becoming pregnant. BUT with this law this would mean that IVF physicians would be charged with a Class 3 Felony, which means 4-8 years in prison and a fine of $750,000, if implantation is not successful. Wow – substantial fines and a prison sentence for helping a couple have a baby. How is that for protection?
So, if this thing passes, either my husband and I move to a state that doesn’t have a warped sense of ‘protecting pregnant women’ or let go of our dreams of becoming parents. Yep that sounds fair.
But here I am babbling about all that’s wrong with this amendment (the short condensed version anyway) but not talking about what actually has me both worried, and a little steamed. I don’t think when someone, or an organization, tries to put one over on me. Colorado has shot down such amendments time and time again, because it isn’t what the people want, so now Personhood is lying to sneak their legislation into the state’s constitution under the pretenses of something that would actually get votes, because as I have already asked, who wouldn’t want to actually protect pregnant women?
I have little doubt that if voters knew what this was, it wouldn’t have a chance of passing. But people are busy, life gets crazy, and I wonder how many people will actually do the research to see what this amendment is all about. I mean I am usually pretty informed when going to the polls; it is the little activist in me. But have I ever not researched some candidate or local, state or federal measure – of course. I don’t make a habit out of it, but between city, county, state and federal elections and more than a decade of voting it’s bound to happen sometime.
I doubt anyone can actually say that they have researched every single thing that they have ever voted on. There are too many issues and too many candidates. I think most people focus on candidates and in truth I have never voted for a state or federal official that I didn’t research or was even remotely in the dark about. But school board officials and local judges have occasionally slipped by. (I was about to say county commissioner, but I actually have been informed about every county commissioner I have voted for, and I am kind of proud of that fact.) Even worse are particular local measures about where money should go or what something might do that I view as small-scale. The times I have done this I can count on one hand, but again life is busy, and I can’t say that I have never done it.
If this is passed, I have no doubt it will just end up in court. And that wastes money, fighting to uphold something that is flat-out wrong (some would say unconstitutional) that only was passed because of the lie that bought its place in the Colorado Constitution. But legally declaring it as ‘unconstitutional,’ something I have no doubt will happen, takes time. And how long will it take? How many people will it keep from being parents? How many women with cancer or diabetes, whose pregnancies endanger their lives, will have to die? How many women who lose their unborn child will be investigated? And how many women who are victims of rape and incest will have to carry a child to term, a product of the most horrific kind of violation against a person?
I guess my fear is that people will be all about ‘protecting pregnant women’ that they won’t look at the facts, or even the ballot’s information booklet, which makes things clear upfront (like in the transparent kind of way, even mentioning IVF, etc.). This is not about protecting anyone, but the devastation and dangerous precedent that it sets… well that is a fact.