News Contraception

Colorado House Passes “Personhood” Bill Despite Widespread Public Opposition

Jodi Jacobson

Gals, in the eyes of Colorado Assistant House Majority Leader Mark Waller, when it comes to fertilized eggs as people, women are toast. His comment on the bill he just passed through the House? “The goal of this bill is not to protect women. The goal of this bill is to protect unborn children.”  Ya know, Mark... we kinda got that message.

There is one thing about fanatics. They are so convinced of their righteousness or their invincibility or their power that they are not apt to stop pushing for something even when it tramples on the rights of others.

That is apparently the case in Colorado where the House of Representatives today gave final approval to House Bill 1130, a bill backed by Colorado Right to Life that would allow criminal assault and homicide charges to be filed for causing the injury or death of any “unborn member of the species homo sapien.”

You may recall that extremist anti-choice groups in Colorado have now twice tried and failed to pass a so-called personhood amendment via ballot initiative. Egg-as-person proponents want to use these bills to declare that fertilized eggs have the same rights as living, breathing people–and in effect more rights than women–and to make illegal many common forms of birth control, in-vitro fertilization, and of course abortion. It might be fair to ask: What part of *no* does the legislature not understand? The decisive defeats of these initiatives in both cases kinda suggest that the people of Colorado are not fooled and are not interested in eggs-as-people.

But, you know…. fanatics.

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So the Colorado House, the majority of which is apparently under the sway of the anti-choice groups like Personhood USA and Americans United for Life and others that have created the “model” legislation that feeds these efforts, passed the bill despite the wishes of their constituents.

ProChoice Colorado notes:

Although anti-choice backers of this bill claim HB 1130 is an “abortion-neutral” bill, the truth is Assistant House Majority Leader Mark Waller has said of the bill, “The goal of this bill is not to protect women. The goal of this bill is to protect unborn children.”

You can listen to his comments here.

In response to this bill, Toni Panetta, political director of NARAL Prochoice Colorado said, “It’s not acceptable to separate pregnant women who are victimized when a crime results in the unlawful termination of her pregnancy.”

The effects of such “fetal homicide” bills are very real.  Today, prosecutors in Indiana are trying to make their careers on the prosecution of Bei Bei Shuai, a woman who, out of depression and desperation tried to commit suicide… and failed. But she was pregnant, and her premature baby died several days after being born. So now Bei Bei Shuai awaits trial under charges of homicide. (If you have not signed the petition to free Bei Bei Shuai, please, please do so now.)

Why did this bill pass? NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado underscores that anti-choicers in Colorado make up the majority in the House of Representatives.

Now that it has passed the House, Panetta notes, “HB 1130 will go to the state Senate for consideration. The Senate does have a pro-choice majority, but we will need you to contact your senator to ask that person to vote “no” on this bill once it’s scheduled for a hearing.”

You might want to help our sisters in Colorado by reminding those members of the House who harbor aspirations of future political office of two words: Ken Buck.

News Abortion

Iowa GOP Legislator: Ending Legal Abortion ‘Impossible’ Without ‘Personhood’ Laws

Teddy Wilson

GOP-backed "personhood" laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.

An Iowa Republican plans to introduce a measure defining life as beginning at conception in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down an anti-choice Texas law, which has limited states’ ability to restrict abortion care access.

State Sen. Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig) told IowaWatch that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt proves that the anti-choice movement’s attack on abortion rights is not working.

“The Supreme Court decision reinforced that incrementally ending abortion is impossible,” Schultz said. “You either have it or you don’t.”

So-called personhood laws seek to classify fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses as people, and to grant them full legal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

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GOP-backed “personhood” laws have been an unmitigated failure. Voters in state after state have rejected by wide margins personhood ballot initiatives, and personhood bills have failed to gain traction in many legislatures.

Personhood bills were introduced this year by Republican lawmakers in Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, and Rhode Island.

Rachel Lopez, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, told IowaWatch that personhood measures are routinely introduced in Iowa but have failed to gain traction in the GOP-dominated legislature.

“Although we have not yet seen the details of this impending effort, we are confident that it also will fail to advance,” Lopez said. “Personhood bills are a waste of both time and taxpayer dollars, as they have failed time and again in Iowa and other states.”

Iowa lawmakers this year introduced SJR 2001, a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the state constitution specifying that the document does not secure or protect a fundamental right to abortion care.

SJR 2001 was referred to the senate rules and administration committee, but never received a hearing or a vote.

Schultz, who was elected to the state senate in 2014 after serving in the house, has sponsored or co-sponsored several anti-choice bills while in the state legislature, including personhood measures.

SF 478, sponsored by Schultz during the 2015 legislative session, would have defined “person” when referring to the victim of a murder, to mean “an individual human being, without regard to age of development, from the moment of conception, when a zygote is formed, until natural death.”

Mark Kende, director of Drake University’s Constitutional Law Center, told IowaWatch that Schultz’s proposal would not survive in the courts.

“He can try to pass that legislation but it certainly wouldn’t trump the federal Constitution,” Kende said. “Even if that language got into the state constitution it can’t defy three Supreme Court decisions in the last 40 years.”

Gov. Terry Branstad (R) told IowaWatch that he could not support Schultz’s proposal.

“I’m pro-life and I want to do what I can to encourage things that can protect the lives of unborn children,” Branstad said. “Yet I also recognize that we have to live with the restrictions that have been placed on the states by the courts.”

Branstad signed many of the state’s laws restricting abortion access that came up during the latter part of his first term as governor.

News Politics

Democrats in Utah, Colorado Make History as First Openly Transgender Women to Win Congressional Primaries

Ally Boguhn

Though Misty Snow's win may be historic for LGBTQ equality, she has previously noted that it was not the reason she is running for office."I'm not running because I'm transgender. I just happen to be transgender," the Utah candidate said.

Voters in Utah and Colorado made history Tuesday after nominating Democrats Misty Snow and Misty Plowright to run for Congress in their respective states—making them the first openly transgender women to win a major party’s congressional primary nomination.

Misty Snow, according to the bio listed on her campaign’s website, is a 30-year-old grocery store cashier from Salt Lake County, Utah, “concerned by the degree of income inequality in this country: particularly how it disproportionately impacts women, people of color, and the LGBT community.” Among the many issues prioritized on her website are paid maternity leave, a $15 minimum wage, and anti-choice regulations that “restrict a woman’s right to having a safe and legal abortion as well as any attempts to undermine a woman’s access to important health services.”

Though her win may be historic for LGBTQ equality, she has previously noted that it was not the reason she is running for office. “I’m not running because I’m transgender. I just happen to be transgender,” she told the Salt Lake Tribune in May. In later statement to the publication, however, Snow acknowledged that “a lot of people have told me whether I win or lose, I’m already making a difference just by running.”

Snow ran opposite Democrat Jonathan Swinton in Utah, having filed to run for office just before the March 17 deadline. Snow decided to run after Swinton, who was running for the Democratic ticket unopposed, penned an op-ed in September arguing that Planned Parenthood should be investigated—though the government should not be shut down over it. After reading the op-ed and thinking it over for several months, Snow told the Tribune she began to think the people of Colorado deserved a more liberal option and thought, “Why not me?”

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Snow’s win means she will move on to run against incumbent conservative Sen. Mike Lee. As previously reported by Rewire, Lee is stringently anti-abortion and has consistently pushed measures “attempting to limit access to or outright ban abortion.”

Misty Plowright, who is running to represent Colorado’s 5th congressional district, describes herself as an “Army veteran, a self-educated woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and a passionate social democrat,” according to her campaign’s website. An IT worker from Colorado Springs, Plowright billed herself as the “anti-politician” during an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette, and is running on a platform that includes campaign finance reform and defending voting rights.

Plowright will now challenge incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) for his seat in the House.

Plowright congratulated Snow in her win in a Wednesday post to her campaign’s Facebook page. “Congratulations from ‪#‎TeamMisty‬ to another progressive candidate in Utah, Misty K Snow,” wrote Plowright’s campaign. “Both women made history last night by winning their Democratic Primary.”

As Slate reported, though the candidates may have both won their primary races, “Snow and Plowright face uphill battles in the coming months”:

Despite a Gallup survey from March 2015 that calculated Salt Lake City’s LGBTQ population as the seventh-highest in the nation, Lee leads Snow 51 percent to 37 percent among likely general election voters according to a poll commissioned by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics in early June. And Lamborn, who has represented Colorado’s heavily conservative fifth district since 2007, took nearly 60 percent of the vote in his most recent reelection fight.