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Groups to make another try for 'personhood' measure

By: MARK BARNA
June 29, 2009
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Two anti-abortion groups, Colorado Right to Life and Personhood USA, will submit a new "personhood" initiative to the Colorado Legislative Council on Thursday in hopes of getting a measure on the 2010 state ballot.

Colorado voters soundly defeated a similar measure, Amendment 48, in the 2008 election.

But initiative sponsors say things will be different in 2010 because they will be better-funded and better able to articulate their message and will introduce a measure that's more accurately worded.

"The fact that we got over half a million Coloradans to vote for personhood in 2008 shows us that people care about ensuring that all humans are protected under the law," said Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of Personhood Colorado, an arm of the national Denver-based organization Personhood USA.

Last year, 73 percent of the vote went against Amendment 48, which was sponsored by Colorado for Equal Rights. Kristi Burton, a 21-year-old student from Peyton, ran the organization.

Compared with its opponent, Colorado for Equal Rights was poorly funded, raising about a third of what the anti-48 group was able to amass.

Jones said that if the initiative gets on the 2010 ballot, funding will be stronger because of the national reach of Personhood USA, formed specifically to help anti-abortion groups throughout the nation get personhood amendments on their state ballots.

Colorado for Equal Rights also stumbled when addressing concerns about the possible ramifications of 48, such as women being charged with criminal child abuse or manslaughter because they used a contraceptive.

Jones said the spokespeople for the 2010 personhood campaign will be veterans of the anti-abortion movement who will be able to handle the difficult questions.

"We will run a smarter campaign," Jones said.

The language of the initiative has also been tweaked.

Rather than defining a person as "any human being from the moment of fertilization," the new initiative will establish personhood in "every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."

"The change," Garcia said, "doesn't leave any loopholes to artificial forms of reproduction such as cloning."

Abortion-rights activists weren't overly concerned Monday about the new campaign.

"It gives us another opportunity to explain how personhood amendments threaten all pregnant women, including those going to term," said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women in New York.

Jacy Montoya, head of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and
Reproductive Rights in Denver, said that, as the 2008 vote showed, Coloradans are "uncomfortable with the government and strangers making personal decisions for families."

Jones expects volunteers to be collecting signatures by September to get the personhood initiative on the 2010 ballot.

Burton is not involved in the new campaign, although Jones said she would be a welcome addition to the ballot drive. Burton could not be reached for comment.

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Call the writer at 636-0367.

Take our poll on the last personhood measure, in the panel to the right.

 

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