Anti-choice activists tried mightily to put a
happy face on their annual March for Life rally but the news was grim for its
priority project — placing another "personhood" constitutional
amendment on the Colorado ballot.
Personhood USA co-founder Keith Mason told the January 2010 rally
participants that the proposed measure to give civil rights to fertilized eggs
is short the required 50,000 petition signatures needed to place it on the 2010
ballot. Audible gasps rippled through the rally crowd estimated at under 300 by
a Colorado state trooper.
In yet another setback, the group was also
informed by the Colorado Secretary of State that a clerical error miscalculated
the date by which petitions must be submitted for verification. Now, Personhood
Colorado must return its petitions by February 12 — four days earlier than expected
following a six-month certification drive to collect 76,047 voter signatures.
Even so, Mason was defiant as he tried to whip up
the crowd by refusing to declare defeat.
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"I want to tell you that the Colorado
personhood effort didn’t get enough votes if you didn’t already know
that," said Mason. "It was the first one in the country. But we
didn’t get enough votes. But it wasn’t a failure. It was a start."
In fact, the group, then known as Colorado for
Equal Rights, was defeated in a landslide 73-27 vote in 2008 when other
religious conservative-backed ballot measures in recent years have passed
The latest Personhood Colorado campaign has been
marred by poor fundraising and divided attentions as its national organizers
attempt to place constitutional amendments in all 50 states.
Woes from the Centennial State Friday continues a
streak of bad luck for the paleo-conservative anti-choice movement.
Nevada District Court Judge James Russell ruled
January 8 that a like-worded personhood amendment declaring fertilized eggs as
people imbued with civil rights protections was unduly vague and threw it off
the ballot. Supporters have vowed to appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme
The Personhood Mississippi push has been rocked by
on-going confusion over ballot deadlines and a well-under-the-radar campaign,
as Rewire reported earlier this month. Nsombi Lambright, executive
director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said the group appears to be working on a
parallel legislative effort with a constitutional amendment that will require a
two-thirds vote of the general assembly to place the initiative on the ballot
should the petition effort fail.
Lambright said she isn’t detecting any enthusiasm
among state lawmakers to wade into a protracted and highly contentious process
to approve a personhood amendment. She doesn’t expect it to get far.
Despite the on-going bad news for personhood
proponents, the show must go on. A frigid mid-morning press conference was
attended by less than a dozen personhood campaign supporters – about half of
whom were staff members and rally organizers from Colorado Right to Life.
Even the noon pre-march festivities themselves was
decidedly more subdued than last year’s spectacle that featured gory images on homemade posters and fiery anti-abortion
The 2010 Denver March for Life kick-off rally in
sights and sounds: