Election Aftermath: Women Are Persons, Too

On the day after the midterm election of 2010, the outlook for new legislation to bolster a feminist agenda looks a little grim. There will be new anti-choice officeholders in the U.S. Congress and the Senate, as well as in state houses and state legislatures. Obviously we’ll have to redouble our efforts to educate the electorate about the consequences of further limits on our right to safe legal abortion and contraception, let alone gain support for the other life and work issues feminists care deeply about.

With all the bad news, though, there was one bright spot for reproductive rights advocates: Colorado.

71 percent of Colorado voters rejected the “personhood amendment” [PDF] to the state constitution, which would have applied the term “person” from “the beginning of biological development.” If it had passed, it would not have just put abortion rights in danger, but also threatened the legality of contraception, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.

This is the second try for fetal “personhood” by anti-choice activists in the state; they lost in 2008 by a similar margin. And they won’t give up. “We’re excited to try again next election,” Personhood Colorado spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told Electa Draper of the Denver Post.

A personhood initiative was also overwhelmingly defeated in the New Hampshire House in February, and similar initiatives were kept off this year’s ballots in Florida and Nevada due to lack of signatures. But the Personhood U.S.A. movement–founded by Keith Mason of Kansas and Cal Zastrow of Michigan, both members of the anti-abortion extremist group Operation Rescue–will next take their efforts to Mississippi, which will have a Fetal Personhood Amendment on the ballot next year.

Even as people are looking for full-time jobs, struggling to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families, anti-choice forces insist on forcing women to have children against their will and their health. Instead of spending so much money to convince people that fetuses are people, why not help people who already have children by supporting health care, good job creation, adequate funding for schools, a moratorium on foreclosures and consumer protection that protects us from predatory credit card companies?

Photo from Flickr.com user Andreas Kollegger through Creative Commons License 2.0


  1. DBIngraham says:

    Thank goodness that Carol King, feminist, intellectual and amazingly great writer keeps these issues and sensible commentary in our in-boxes. Following the depressing mid-term election shifts, I'll stay tuned for her balanced and sensible insights. di

  2. Liz Homer says:

    It really makes me angry when these people would equate a fetus that hasn't the capability to reach consciousness with a fully grown women. An acorn is not an oak tree and a fetus is not a person.

  3. terry robinson says:

    I saw a demonstration yesterday on Wilshire, struck by the fact it was only four young women but I honked my horn. They were standing there waving properly printed banners that said simply. " Keep abortion legal."
    It seems so amazing to me that this is still an issue.

  4. Like you I am so glad we still have some control over our own bodies. However, after the many attempts we have made to try and talk to the anti-abortion extremist's group Operation Rescue and others like them. I've come to the conclusion that a compromise or even just to leave me and my choices alone is impossible. Fighting this battle over and over is exhausting, it exhausts the many men and woman that would other wise put their volunteer time into helping at clinics, at hospices, at the zoos and at so many many organizations that need volunteers to fill a gap in care. I want to thank each and every person that held up a sign, walked a rally or called voters on the phone. We can't let them win, we are the only defense of our reproductive rights. Carol Thank you so much for all your tireless efforts to secure our freedom of choice.

  5. Jacquie Steingold says:

    Dear Carol: Again, you have brought us an important message; see NOW's most recent press release; Terry O'Neill deftly outlines the situation. We know what we face and we're ready! because we will never go back and we will never give in. Jacquie Steingold

  6. Umm.. if citizens are saying that it violates their religion and their human life, the proponents of these measures should stop and listen.

  7. Susan Baronoff says:

    These elections were indeed dispiriting. Who is voting for these extremists and blowhards, who tout their ignorance and lack of experience as if they were virtues!!!?? It's not them I'm concerned about — it's the millions of people who VOTE for them!! Colorado was a bright spot on Tuesday for a number of reasons. Defeat of the latest Personhood initiative is certainly one of them!!

  8. RCervantes says:

    A powerful article! As you said, this was a sad election day for the country but good for California. I am glad to learn that the Personhood amendment was not passed; this shows that there are still many of us feminists out there letting the world know that "women are persons, too." As you mentioned on Tuesday, the extensive efforts to grant more rights to an unborn than to the woman carrying it are just excuses that thinly veil the true objective: controlling and robbing the power from women through their sexuality and fertility. It is not in the best interest of a patriarchal, racist society to to offer women the freedom to do with their sexualities whatever they wish. This is "dangerous" (!). We hope that with Boxer in the Senate and Brown as our governor, we can have enough influence to help the women in other states to preserve their right to safe and easily accessible contraception and abortion services.

  9. If anyone can educate the electorate, it's you Carol. Keep at it. They'll listen. They MUST listen. Thanks for always being on the side of the righteous issues.

  10. But supporting born children would be too logical for them.

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