“Egg-as-Person” Backers Call Out Conservative Wimps

Wendy Norris

Proponents of Colorado's "egg as a person" initiative have just one month left to submit petitions to the Colorado secretary of state to certify the measure for the Nov. 4 ballot. Now, in the frenzy of the signature-gathering push the campaign is taking a decidedly more aggressive tone -- toward its own.

Colorado for Equal Rights (CER) has added another ultra-conservative ally in its push for a state constitutional amendment to confer legal rights on fertilized human eggs.

In a new video featured on the CER Web site (see below), Michael Hichborn, a spokesman for the American Life League, criticizes the Denver Post for mischaracterizing the proposed constitutional amendment as "an attempt to extend the legal protections of personhood to an egg." Hichborn continues sarcastically, "News flash to the Denver Post. Humans don't lay eggs. But we do make babies …" while a picture of a baby pops out of a giant chicken egg replete with clucking hen and egg-breaking sound effects.

Kristi Burton, the 20-year-old correspondence law school student from Peyton, Colo., and founder of CER, complains in her brief on-camera segment that fellow conservatives have cold feet about the timing of the initiative.

Hichborn follows suit and drives home the point in no uncertain terms:

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"Now, amazingly there are those that claim that now is not the right time for a personhood amendment. The old saying attributed to Edmund Burke 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing' is well applied to those standing on the sidelines because they decided to do just what Burke warned against. They're simply doing nothing. And while they sit on their hands waiting — organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood and NOW are working to ensure another 35 years of killing babies."

Insulting one's target audience is a curious strategy to employ when, according to an April 6 news story in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Burton remarked that her group has collected just 60,000 of the 76,000 signatures required to place the initiative on the Colorado ballot. The deadline for submitting the petitions is May 14.

In addition to ALL, Burton's group has solicited the support of other ultra-conservative groups that don't mince words.

American Right to Life Action, a new Denver-based group, aims to upend National Right to Life, the standard-bearer antiabortion organization, which the young upstart views as too timid in its fight against "wicked courts" and "child-killing regulations." CER's petition coordinator and latest spokesman, Keith Mason, hails from Operation Rescue in Wichita, Kan., scene of some of the most strident protests in the nation.

Despite the tame wording, the measure appears to be an attempt to exploit the long-held belief by abortion foes that the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision never addressed the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment. By conferring state constitutional rights on a fertilized egg, antiabortion activists hope to chip away at the Roe decision.

Opponents argue that the ballot wording is overly broad and could be interpreted to outlaw abortion and some contraceptives that interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus — a key point in the dispute because a free-floating zygote does not meet the scientific definition of pregnancy since upwards of 50 percent of these cells do not naturally implant.

An ex-spokesman for CER confirmed the overarching goals to end abortion and curb hormone-based contraceptive use in press statements last summer but the group has since backed off making those claims in public.

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