News Contraception

Colorado “Personhood” Volunteers Gather 80 Signatures Each

Robin Marty

Colorado's third attempt to force voters to reject personhood is on its way.

Personhood USA is excited to announce that they once more gathered enough signatures to put defining a fertilized egg as a full human with all implied legal rights on the election ballot in Colorado.

Via Daily Beast:

Leaders of the “personhood” movement—which seeks to ban abortion by defining human embryos as people with legal rights—said Monday that they had collected enough signatures in Colorado to put the initiative on the state ballot this fall. The signatures now need to be counted and verified by state officials.

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Personhood Colorado, a branch of the nonprofit Personhood USA—which is pushing for bills and ballot initiatives across the country—said in a statement that it had submitted 112,121 signatures to officials in Colorado and that 86,105 were required.

“Personhood” Amendment Sponsor Rosalinda Lozano congratulated the team of “nearly 1500 volunteers” for their effort gathering signatures, which means that at best, the group garnered about 80 supporters per volunteer. The group also claims the “engagement of 500 churches,” which would break the signatures down to about 250 per church.

News Politics

Republican’s ‘Personhood’ Embrace Could Cost GOP Control of Colorado Senate

Jason Salzman

State Sen. Laura Woods was a sponsor of a so-called personhood bill that would give legal rights to a fetus, effectively outlawing abortion in Colorado.

A Colorado state senator, whose re-election race in November will likely determine whether Republicans retain control of the chamber, is sponsoring anti-choice legislation that could very well harm her bid in a swing district, state observers say.

State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Westminster) was a sponsor of a so-called personhood bill that would give legal rights to a fetus. The bill aimed to ban abortion in much the same way as three failed “personhood” ballot initiatives in Colorado would have outlawed it.

The legislation, referred to as the “Protect Life at Conception Act,” was nixed by Democrats in the Colorado house last week.

Woods is also among the sponsors of a bill requiring doctors to offer pregnant patients an ultrasound before they can have an abortion and to wait 24 hours before performing an abortion.

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The bill, which is awaiting committee action and is referred to as “A Woman’s Right to Accurate Health Care Info Act,” ensures “women have the opportunity to see or forego [sic] the opportunity to see the ultrasound.”

Woods sponsored similar so-called personhood and ultrasound bills last year, and both went down in committee.

Colorado has a Democratic governor, and the state house is likely to remain under Democratic control, state observers say. Losing Woods’ state senate seat would leave the GOP a minority in that chamber, with Democrats controlling 18 of 34 seats if Woods can’t secure re-election.[

Professor Robert D. Loevy, professor emeritus of political science at Colorado College, told Rewire that Woods’ anti-choice positions could hurt her in the upcoming general election—if she sticks with them.

“Her anti-abortion actions will make her popular among the Republicans who tend to go to caucuses and vote in primaries and who tend to be very conservative and anti-abortion,” Loevy said. “But when you get to the general election, being anti-abortion can be detrimental to you, particularly in a swing district.”

Woods took strong anti-choice positions during her primary run in 2014, and she has not moved away from them.

During her 2014 primary, Woods shared a Facebook post comparing her Republican opponent, Lang Sias, to Kermit Gosnell, a rogue abortion provider serving a life sentence. Woods apologized for sharing the post.

After defeating Sias, Woods moved on to the general election, where she won her seat by about 650 votes—a 1 percent margin—against then-state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger (D), who is running against Woods again this year.

Woods, during her 2014 general election campaign, didn’t back away from her staunch anti-choice stances, hiring a campaign consultant with ties to Colorado’s failed “personhood” amendments.

Her support of a “personhood” abortion ban on Colorado’s 2014 ballot caused one local libertarian blogger, who normally supports conservative candidates, to write that he would not vote for her.

Asked to comment on whether Woods has backed away from her anti-choice positions during her time in office, Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, points to a Facebook post shared by Woods with the comment “interesting,” two days after three people were killed at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

Woods’ post depicted Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up the House of Lords in England in the name of enhancing religious freedom for Catholics in the 1600s. Under a drawing of Fawkes was the quotation, “The mind of a slave asks is it legal? The mind of a free man asks is it right?” The post has since been deleted.

“Senator Woods has held extreme anti-choice views for a long time, but she really put them into words when she blamed Planned Parenthood for the domestic terrorism attack at the clinic in Colorado Springs,” Middleton told Rewire, referring to the Fawkes post. “Between advocating violence against doctors and patients and her sponsorship of both personhood and mandatory transvaginal ultrasound bills, we’re sure voters will hold her accountable in the next election. As will we.”

Denver Post analysis of her voting record revealed Woods to be one of the eight most conservative lawmakers in the Colorado legislature, despite representing a district that’s evenly divided among Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters. The Post described the group of eight as “essentially a Colorado version of the congressional ‘Freedom Caucus,’” a group stacked with legislators hostile to abortion rights.

Woods, who used to comment on conservative talk radio under the name “Laura Waters,” did not return a call from Rewire seeking comment on how she thinks her anti-choice stances will be received in her district in November. She told the Denver Post last year that she thinks she’s “representing all Coloradans well.”

“If you’ve looked at my voting record at all, what you will know is I’m an independent thinker,” Woods told Denver Post reporter John Frank in January. “I bucked my leadership, I bucked the party, I bucked the caucus … if it didn’t line up with my principles or my district.”

News Law and Policy

California Ballot Initiative Pushes for ‘Personhood’—Again

Nicole Knight

The proposed constitutional amendment would "extend constitutional protections of due process and equal protection to all fertilized human eggs.”

A California anti-choice group has proposed a ballot initiative to categorize a fertilized human egg as a person, a measure that could essentially criminalize abortion in the Golden State as well as ban several types of contraception.

The constitutional amendment would “extend constitutional protections of due process and equal protection to all fertilized human eggs,” according to the California secretary of state’s description of the measure.

The proposed initiative is backed by the California Civil Rights Foundation, a Union City-based group with an advisory board that includes anti-choice advocates Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue, and Lila Rose, the founder and president of Live Action.

Initiative sponsor Walter B. Hoye, who filed the measure with the state attorney general’s office October 1, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. In media reports, Hoye has stated his opposition to abortion and cited the high rate of the procedure in the Black community. Such statistics are often used as a ploy to dismantle reproductive rights under the guise of racial justice, as Rewire has reported.

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The proposed initiative needs 585,407 signatures to make it onto the November ballot.

Similar measures in California in the past have failed to secure enough signatures, including an identical initiative by Hoye and others last year.

Republican lawmakers in other states have latched onto the notion of defining life as beginning at fertilization—a concept commonly called “personhood”—and introduced a slew of bills in 2015.

The push has met with little success. Personhood measures introduced this year in IowaColorado, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington have stalled in legislative committees.

A Montana bill backing a ballot measure similar to the constitutional amendment proposed in California also died in committee.

Some of the bills, such as Iowa’s failed measure, included exceptions to decriminalize accidental death or in cases where contraception was administered “before a clinically diagnosable pregnancy,” as Rewire has reported. The language submitted to the California attorney general for the proposed initiative makes no exceptions:

The term “PERSON,” as it is applied to all living human beings, applies to all living human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human beings (i.e., human organism), regardless of the means by which he or she was procreated, method of reproduction, age, race, sex, gender, physical well-being, function, size, level of development, environment, and/or degree of physical or mental dependency and/or disability.

The language also opens the door for “personhood” protections on zygotes formed through in vitro fertilization.


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