News Politics

On The Third Attempt to Pass Egg-as-Person Legislation in Colorado, Former Supporters Shy Away

Robin Marty

Personhood Colorado may not believe the voters don't want to give legal rights to fertilized eggs, but the politicians do.

Unless there is are massive numbers of bad or duplicated signatures, the voters of Colorado will once again be deciding whether or not to grant full legal rights to fertilized eggs. Personhood Colorado believes that the voters are ready to pass the amendment this time, pointing to the fact that they have gathered more signatures than necessary and with even less time to do it.

But if they think that means the people of Colorado are “pro-fertilized-egg-as-person” this go around, they are the only ones. Even their old supporters are starting to back away from them, saying the people have already spoken.

Via the Denver Post:

This time around Joe Coors, now a Republican candidate for the 7th congressional district, will not endorse the personhood initiative, which would ban all abortions in the state, the campaign told the Post Wednesday.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

“After its two failed attempts on the ballot, Coloradans have made their decision on this issue,” campaign spokeswoman Michelle Yi said. “Joe respects the voters’ decision and, for the next 90 days, will continue to focus on ideas to get our economy back on track by helping job creators start new businesses and expand their payrolls.”

Coors originally donated to the Personhood movement he is now shunning. Will other Colorado politicians do the same? 

The Rocky Mountain Media Watch writes:

[T]he political ramifications of the personhood amendment should continue to be a key part of the coverage. The amendment, which would ban all abortions and some common forms of birth control, is clearly of interest to women, in particular, and women are a key voters in Colorado elections.

Personhood supporters have yet to hear from Rep. Mike Coffman and Rep. Cory Gardner about whether they will endorse their amendment this year, as they did in 2010, Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones told reporters today.

Garcia Jones said they’d welcome their support again, as they would any candidate, Democrat or Republican.

“To me, they’d be shooting themseves in the foot, if they backtracked,” said Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks. “It would be their loss.”

The official signature count will be released in early September, and it will be interesting to see if Republicans as a whole embrace or reject the initiative for 2012.

News Politics

Colorado Republicans Pick Anti-Choice County Commissioner for U.S. Senate Race

Jason Salzman

Darryl Glenn, an anti-choice Colorado Springs County Commissioner, defeated a pro-choice GOP rival and three other anti-choice Republicans in the race to take on pro-choice Sen. Michael Bennet in November.

In Colorado’s Republican senatorial primary Tuesday, Darryl Glenn, a conservative county commissioner from Colorado Springs, scored a decisive victory over Jack Graham, a former Colorado State University official, who stood out from the GOP field of five candidates for his atypical pro-choice stance.

Glenn received about 38 percent of the primary vote versus nearly 25 percent for Graham, who finished second.

Glenn made no secret of his anti-choice stance during the primary election, describing himself in interviews as an “unapologetic Christian, constitutional conservative” and supporting “personhood” rights for fertilized human eggs (zygotes), a stance that could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.

Consistent with this, Glenn is also opposed to the Roe v. Wade decision.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Glenn frequently brought up his faith in interviews. For example, Glenn broke out from his Republican rivals at the GOP state convention in April, where he gave an impassioned speech during which he discussed Planned Parenthood and opposing abortion ​before delegates voted him on to the GOP primary ballot.

Asked about the speech by conservative radio host Richard Randall, Glenn said, “Well, that wasn’t me. That was the Holy Spirit coming through, just speaking the truth.”

Seriously?” replied the KVOR radio host.

Absolutely,” Glenn replied on air. “This campaign has always been about honoring and serving God and stepping up and doing the right thing.”

Political observers say Glenn’s position on abortion, coupled with his other conservative stances and his promise never to compromise, spell trouble for him in November’s general election against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

“Glenn’s stance on abortion isn’t necessarily disqualifying,” Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report, which offers non-partisan election analysis, in Washington D.C., told Rewire via email. “Colorado has sent pro-life Republicans to the Senate. But, the cumulative effect of all Glenn’s conservative positions on social, economic, and foreign policy, as well as his association with Tea Party-affiliated groups and his lack of funding make it very, very difficult to see a path to victory for him.”

In the final weeks of the primary, Glenn was supported by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Glenn’s ties to the right wing of the Republican Party drew criticism during the campaign from GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He criticized Glenn for accepting the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which gave Glenn $500,000.

Duffy doesn’t expect the race to be “very competitive,” an observation that aligns with the “Democrat favored” assessment of the race by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report. Last year, Bennet was widely considered one of only two vulnerable U.S. Senate Democrats.

“Darryl Glenn’s support for ‘personhood’ puts him on the wrong side of Colorado voters’ values, including many pro-choice Republicans and unaffiliated voters,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, in an email to Rewire. “Support for reproductive freedom crosses party lines in Colorado, as demonstrated by the landslide losses by three ‘personhood’ ballot measures. Glenn’s chances of beating pro-choice champion Michael Bennet were already slim. This puts it closer to none.”

Glenn did not immediately return a call for comment.

In 2014, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who is anti-choice, defeated pro-choice Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who hammered Gardner on his abortion stance throughout the campaign. 

Gardner threw his support behind Glenn Wednesday, reportedly saying to Roll Call that Glenn has fundraising challenges ahead of him but that he’s “winning when nobody expected him to.” And that, Gardner was quoted as saying, “bodes well for November.”

News Law and Policy

Colorado Pro-Choice Advocates: Giving Legal Rights to Fetuses Doesn’t Protect Pregnant Woman

Jason Salzman

Colorado pro-choice activists on Wednesday decried a bill introduced by state Republicans in response to a grotesque crime against a pregnant woman that would give "personhood" rights to fetuses.

Colorado pro-choice activists on Wednesday decried a bill introduced by state Republicans in response to a grotesque crime against a pregnant woman that would give “personhood” rights to fetuses.

During a Wednesday news conference prior to a legislative hearing on the anti-choice bill, which defines fetuses as potential victims of crime, including murder, pro-choice advocates urged lawmakers to focus on measures to protect women from violence instead of giving fetuses legal rights that could be used to arrest pregnant women.

“Why are we having a conversation about how many years is long enough [to incarcerate someone for destroying a fetus], rather than asking whether these laws do anything to deter violence against pregnant women, to protect pregnancies, embryos, and fetuses,” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

Paltrow said there’s no evidence that so-called feticide laws deter crimes against pregnant women.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Paltrow said that “prosecutors are very good at finding ways around statutory language” and have a history of using feticide laws to prosecute pregnant women for crimes such as child abuse and even murder.

The “personhood” legislation emerged in the wake of an attack on Michelle Wilkins, whose womb was cut open and her 34-week-old fetus destroyed during on March 18.

Colorado’s proposed law, which excludes from prosecution actions taken by the pregnant woman herself, could “be applied not to protect pregnant women but to restrict their rights as well as the rights of physicians,” said Rebecca Cohen, a Denver OB-GYN.

“A woman who has suffered a miscarriage, or still birth, or a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, could be prosecuted, if someone suggests that she did not take enough action to protect her health,” said Cohen, referring to how the bill could affect her work. “And I, as someone caring for her, could also be charged, for instance, if I thought there was something that could have been done differently. This affects my relationship with my patients.”

State Rep. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette) said Colorado’s 2013 “Unlawful Termination of Pregnancy Act” already provides severe penalties, including a 32-year Class 3 felony charge, for a crime against a pregnant woman.

This charge was added to others, leaving the alleged attacker in last month’s Colorado attack facing a prison term of more than 100 years. This type of sentence would almost certainly be faced by perpetrators of all severe crimes against pregnant women in the state, Foote said.

“We made sure to put exclusions in the 2013 law that made it crystal clear, beyond any doubt, that a doctor or any medical professional could not be prosecuted under this law and also that a woman could not be prosecuted for failing to act with regard to her own pregnancy,” he said. “And we put in the law that nothing in it could lead to ‘personhood’ being written into Colorado state law.”

Colorado’s existing law does not give legal rights to fetuses.

State senate president Bill Cadman, a Republican who introduced this year’s bill, has said in numerous interviews that his bill is about justice for the pregnant woman and the fetus. As he told the Denver Post’s John Frank last week, he wants “to guarantee that a woman who wants to have a baby is protected.”

Meanwhile, backers of Colorado’s “personhood” amendments, which have been rejected by voters three times, are opposing Cadman’s bill.

“This is not a personhood bill because it does not afford the child in the womb the equal protection of the law with regard to his or her right to life,” Gualberto Garcia Jones, the author of Colorado’s failed 2014 “personhood” amendment, told Rewire via email. “Those who wish to allow abortion to continue to be available but who would like to see homicide charges for people like Dynel Lane should be happy with this bill, but for me personally, I see no difference for a child who is killed by Dynel Lane in Longmont and by [abortion provider] Warren Hern 15 minutes away in Boulder; to truly afford equal protection, the law should treat them both as what they are, homicides.”

Asked if the bill’s text excluding “medical procedures” from prosecution was sufficiently vague to allow for a potential crackdown on abortion rights, Personhood USA spokesperson Jennifer Mason wrote via email, “Regardless of how I interpret ‘medical procedure,’ I know Planned Parenthood interprets it to include abortion and will use this language to legitimize their business of killing unborn children. That is a serious concern with this bill.”

A state senate committee was expected to pass Cadman’s bill Tuesday in a party-line vote and, later, the entire senate will likely pass it, according to state observers.

But they say the prospects of the bill passing the state house, controlled by Democrats, are much lower. Democratic Gov. John Hicknlooper has signaled an openness to the legislation.