Self-described "pro-life" Catholic Gov. Bill Ritter on Monday announced his opposition to a Colorado ballot initiative that would define fertilized eggs as legal persons. Coloradans will vote on the amendment this November.
In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol, surrounded by other opponents of the amendment, including members of the No on 48 campaign, Ritter said, "I believe the amendment goes too far" and said that he feared it could outlaw necessary medical treatment. Ritter added that the amendment was "bad policy, bad medicine and bad law."
The Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, and Colorado Gynecological Obstetrical Society also all oppose the amendment because it is "bad medicine." In a statement released by the No on 48 campaign, certified nurse midwife Eliza Johnson said, "Some pregnancies are complicated — a woman discovers that she has cancer, or a previously undetected heart defect threatens the woman’s health and her pregnancy. In these instances, the treatment that may save the woman’s life could harm the pregnancy. This amendment could prohibit helping a pregnant woman if the treatment damaged a fertilized egg."
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The amendment has provoked strange bedfellows to gather to oppose it, notes the Rocky Mountain News:
Opponents have gathered support among groups that would normally never
agree with each other. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the
National Right to Life oppose it. The Catholic bishops of Colorado said
in a recent statement that they "admire the goals" of Amendment 48, but
"it does not provide a realistic opportunity for ending abortions in
But Ritter’s comments on Catholic Church teachings and the amendment drew fire from the Archbishop of Denver on Wednesday, even though bishops in Colorado oppose the amendment. Ritter had told the Denver Post, "My understanding is that there are things about calling a fertilized egg a person that do not square with church doctrine."
Archbishop Charles Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley responded:
Catholic teaching holds that human life
is sacred from the moment of fertilization, commonly called
‘conception,’ to the moment of natural death…Separating a ‘fertilized egg’ from the dignity of human
personhood is bad theology and bad public policy.
And Catholic public officials should know better.
An anti-choice heckler shouted throughout Ritter’s remarks, and after six warnings was removed from the premises by state troopers. Wendy Norris has more on that story.