Your Vote Matters: Say No to “Personhood” in Colorado!

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 2.55.47 PMThis election, Colorado voters will decide whether or not to add a proposed personhood amendment to their state constitution. If the amendment passes, women will face the prospect of the toughest restrictions on their reproductive rights anywhere in the country (North Dakota voters are faced with a similar proposed amendment on their ballots).

Although personhood laws are currently unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, they’re considered “trigger laws”: If the U.S. Supreme Court were ever to overturn Roe, the personhood laws would be “triggered” and result in an immediate ban on most forms of contraception and all abortions in the state overnight.

Personhood laws define human life as beginning at conception; they’re usually designed to completely outlaw abortion at any stage of pregnancy including the moment of fertilization. In addition to giving fertilized eggs more rights than women, these measures have dire, far-reaching consequences that endanger women’s lives.

Amendment 67 on Colorado’s upcoming ballot reads:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining ‘person’ and ‘child’ in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings?

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 5.01.00 PMPhrased to mislead well-intentioned voters into thinking it benefits women, this amendment will do just the opposite: If passed, Amendment 67 would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It would severely restrict access to birth control, including some of the most common and effective options such as the Pill, IUDs and emergency contraception. Because of its vague wording, the bill extends beyond abortion and contraception rights and would deny effective treatment to pregnant women with life-threatening illnesses, could ban in-vitro fertilization treatment for women who want to start families and would even subject women who have miscarriages to criminal investigations. 

Students across the state are mobilizing against this draconian ballot measure as part of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Colorado Students Voting No on 67 campaign. Student organizers on college campuses are informing voters about the amendment’s misleading language. Activists in the state report that the public overwhelmingly opposes the proposed amendment once informed of its consequences.

“I think the threat of taking away something that is so fundamentally important to people brings out the activist in anyone,” reports Kim Strong, a No on 67 organizer and student at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “I’ve been able to see just how powerful my Colorado community is as we’ve rallied around this campaign.”

The campaign against 67 is also receiving support from Dolores Huerta, legendary women’s, civil and labor rights leader and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree. Huerta will speak at a No on 67 rally at the University of Colorado, Denver, on October 17 at Tivoli Commons at 11:30am urging attendees to unite against the proposed amendment.

This year, students have much easier access to registration and polling centers than in previous elections. For the first time, voters—especially students—can register and vote at Voter Service and Polling Centers located on three of the largest campuses in the state (Auraria, CU Boulder and CSU Ft. Collins) and throughout the state starting Oct. 20 through Nov. 3 and on Election day from 7am to 7pm. Plus, voters can register online if they have a Colorado driver’s license or ID here. You can also register at polling locations on election day using your student ID.  

Colorado voters have overwhelmingly rejected similar efforts to ban all abortions and restrict access to birth control twice before. We hope they’ll do it again!

No on 67 photo from Feminist Majority Foundation campaign flyer. “Keep Abortion Accessible” photo from Flickr user Debra Sweet under license from Creative Commons 2.0




Rachel Kassenbrock is a writer who works at the Feminist Majority Foundation and blogs for Ms. Follow her on Twitter at @rkassenbrock.