News Politics

Personhood Colorado Files Lawsuit to Put Egg-as-Person Amendment On 2012 Ballot

Robin Marty

The movement to grant legal rights to fertilized eggs is demanding a chance to still get their amendment on the 2012 ballot.

The Colorado Secretary of State has said that Personhood Colorado did not obtain enough valid signatures to put a third amendment granting legal rights to fertilized eggs on the 2012 election ballot. Personhood Colorado disagrees, and they have filed a lawsuit asking for the signature issue to be resolved in time for November’s election. They argue the group wasn’t given sufficient opportunity to address what the Secretary of State’s office said were thousands of invalid signatures which disqualified the amendment from appearing on the November ballot.

Personhood Colorado spokesperson Jennifer Mason told One News Now:

“They had discounted, as far as we can tell, about 7,000 valid voter signatures, and they’re claiming that we missed the ballot by 3,800,” she reports. “So, we believe we have definitely more than enough ballot signatures to appear on the ballot, and we are essentially just demanding our legal rights.”

The state also provides a curing period, which is really an extension to get the needed signatures. But that did not apply to the personhood campaign.

Like This Story?

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

Donate Now

“We were denied a curing period at all. Every other amendment had an extra 15 days to make up lost or dismissed signatures. In addition to that, we actually had a month less of petitioning time than any other initiative in the state,” Mason explains

Personhood Colorado is certain that they have been denied their rightful place on the ballot. 

“The Secretary of State’s actions unconstitutionally deprived us of our fundamental right under the State and Federal Constitutions to the initiative process which is core political speech,” explained Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., legal analyst for Personhood USA in a recent press release. “After being denied the same timeframe that every other initiative received, and denied the opportunity to appear on the ballot, we have filed a writ of mandamus to ensure that our rights are recognized and the hard work of our volunteers is not dismissed.”

Although Garcia Jones cites the Secretary of State’s actions in his press release, Jennifer Mason doesn’t believe that Republican Scott Gessler himself acted maliciously or tried to keep them off the ballot. She told Rewire via email:

I don’t think it’s likely that it was intentional on the part of the SOS. It is more likely that they were just swamped with signatures. We turned in over 112,000 this year, with less time, which is far more than the 79,000+ we turned in in 2010.

This may be one of the few topics on which Mason and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains agree. Contacted via email Cathy Alderman, Vice President of Public Affairs responded:

We don’t question the motivation of the secretary of state’s office and believe the office followed the appropriate rules and regulations for signature review and sufficiency declaration.  We do believe that Colorado voters, elected officials, and candidates have seen that this dangerous measure is out of step with their values and are less willing to support it or assist with getting it on the ballot.

Unlike most of the rest of the country, Colorado saw a large upswing in Democratic voter turnout in the 2010 election. According to the Weekly Standard, “Turnout in Colorado actually swung from +1 GOP in 2008 to +5 Democratic in 2010, a 6-point move that’s 13 points at odds with the national flow in this election.” The Weekly Standard attributed the swing to lack of strong Republican candidates for governor. But there was also an extremely close, extremely contentious senate race at the time, one that was only decided by about 15,000 votes.

The Democratic governor won with 51 percent of the vote. The Democratic senator won with just 47.7 percent, less than one tenth of a percent over his Republican rival. “Personhood,” meanwhile, lost three to one

Did the “egg-as-person ballot” encourage Democratic voters in the state to get out to the polls when in other states they appeared to have stayed home? Mason finds that unlikely.

I definitely don’t believe that there is data to support any claim of Personhood increasing democratic voter turnout, particularly considering that there was a split Republican ticket with the addition of Tancredo in 2010.

Even if there was an increase in Democratic voters, we had a huge increase in yes votes in 2010, compared to 2008, so all that would tell us is that personhood votes are independent of Republican Party turnout – we know that many of our voters are Republicans, but many are Independent as well.

The attempt to establish the “personhood” of fertilized eggs hasn’t received nearly the popular support among conservatives in 2012 as it did in 2010, a sign that even the GOP may be ready to see the issue laid to rest. At least two prominent GOP politicians who supported the movement during 2010 have decided not to endorse it this go around. Now, with the odds against the lawsuit being resolved quickly enough to make a difference in 2012, it looks as though no candidates will be forced to take an uncomfortable stand on either side.

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.

Like This Story?

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

Donate Now

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

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.”