How the Anti-Choice Personhood Amendment in Colorado Was Defeated

Image via Vote No 67

It was the anti-choice movement’s third attempt to curtail women’s reproductive rights in Colorado: Amendment 67, on the ballot in the recent midterm elections, would establish “unborn human beings” as “person” and “child,” and abortions would be subjected to the Colorado criminal code. In other words, women exercising their right to choose could be imprisoned.

Thankfully, a majority of Colorado voters defeated the amendment, thanks to a number of informative campaigns in support of women’s rights. The American Humanist Association proudly joined in this effort by publishing a full-page advertisement in the Denver Post, which, when shared on the AHA’s Facebook page, garnered over 4,000 likes, 1,800 shares, and hundreds of positive comments.

Of course, thanks must also be given to humanists in Colorado who campaigned in a variety of ways against the amendment. Grace Gamm, a longtime member of the American Humanist Association, began a letter-to-the-editor campaign, which she shared with fellow Colorado friends and voters:

Before you vote, please consider the implications of Amendment 67, especially if you are one of the many who feel ambivalent due to your respect for human life, or your understandable concern for the seriousness of the issue.

The most utilized forms of birth control will be illegal, leading to many more pregnancies carried to term, including some to parent(s) who do not want, or cannot be responsible for, a child. More children in our communities will have serious disabilities and require support from the state to survive. Many more will require government assistance to simply have food, shelter, and clothing particularly when the pregnant woman’s family is already impoverished or struggling to survive.

Anyone who seeks an abortion, obtains one, or assists a woman in this process, will be a criminal facing serious charges. Some women will die as a result of an unskilled procedure. Women who suffer miscarriages will be investigated and possibly prosecuted for murder when there is a finding of harm inflicted (potentially including drinking coffee, or exercising during pregnancy). A miscarriage, often a tragedy for a pregnant woman and her family, will become a legal experience with the resulting expense, pushing many more women into prison or destitution.

Women’s opportunities in the workplace will decline, and their resulting ability to contribute to their family’s financial stability will suffer. Many more will need significant time away from work during pregnancy, delivery and post-pregnancy, with more pregnancies in each woman’s lifetime occurring when reliable birth control and abortion are illegal. A higher number of at-risk pregnancies among perimenopausal and teenage women will require compliance with significant restrictions which will affect their employment status. These conditions will also negatively impact women’s abilities to continue their education.

These realities will be an impossible burden for our communities to bear. All children and adults will be affected by the increased death rate and imprisonment of women, the enslavement of women, and the reduced opportunities for women. The resulting society will have much in common with one governed by Sharia law. Does this sound like “respect for all human life” to you?

Will the anti-choice movement in Colorado try again in two years? Will other states take on efforts to create “personhood” bills that aim to criminalize women and doctors who help them? The American Humanist Association will keep a close watch on the development of such bills and strongly oppose them using reason, science, and compassion for women’s lives.

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