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They Call it Personhood Among Themselves But Not on Their Website

Aug 30, 2013 | Updated Oct 30, 2013

If you visit the website of backers of Colorado Referendum 5, which would change the definition of "person" and "child" under Colorado law to include "unborn human beings," you won't find the word "personhood" mentioned at all.

The site frames the initiative as a way to protect "pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts."

In the FAQ section of its website, the initiative's backers state:

"...[The] Amendment is not about politics, it is an amendment that will protect pregnant mothers and their unborn babies from violent and dangerous criminals."

The name backers have chosen for their initiative, the "Brady Amendment," refers to an unborn child killed by a drunk driver in Longmont, Colorado, north of Denver. Prosecutors couldn't press charges of vehicular homicide because the mother, Heather Surovik, survived, and a loophole in Colorado law did not allow prosecution for reckless acts against Brady, her an unborn baby.

All this might make you think the Brady Amendment is a "fetal-homicide" initiative, designed simply to allow prosecution in cases like Surovik's.

Apparently, anti-abortion activists have had the same question, prompting Gualberto Garcia Jones, who's listed on the CO Secretary of State's website as a "designated representative" of the initiative, to send an email July 24 to supporters clarifying the issue:

Some of our supporters have asked whether the Brady Amendment is a personhood amendment. The answer is yes! A personhood measure is any proposal that constitutionally seeks to recognize (without exceptions) that unborn babies are persons deserving of our love and protection by law....

One need look no further than the section of the Colorado law that deals with homicide to see how central the concept of personhood is: the homicide section is appropriately titled "Offenses Against the Person." The Brady Amendment recognizes that all human beings, not just those who are born, are persons and amends the criminal code to that effect! ...

Whether it is a drunk driver who avoids facing any charges for the death of a baby that is just days from birth, or a hospital that avoids malpractice liability for the death of unborn babies in its care, or an abortionist who kills children in the womb for a living, the fact is that all three rely on the same reasoning: the baby in the womb is not a person and therefore his or her life has no value in the eyes of the law.

So Jones is apparently firing up his anti-abortion troops by telling them his initiative is "personhood," which would ban all abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, as well as common forms of birth control and procedures threatening zygotes (fertilized human eggs). But the public face of the campaign tells a different story.

I emailed Jones, who's also legal analyst with Personhood USA, to find out what's up. Why doesn't his website mention "personhood?"

Jones: Not calling the Brady Amendment the Personhood Amendment is not about running away from Personhood, it is about honoring the short life of Brady Surovik.

Heather and Brady's story stands on its own and it is a powerful real-life example of what happens when the preborn are not considered persons.

Planned Parenthood is in trouble and they know it, they can talk about fertilized eggs all day long, but they can't answer the simple question: Was Brady Surovik, a baby only days from being born a person with basic rights?...

Obviously, Planned Parenthood understands that if a child in the womb like Brady is recognized as a person then the logic behind the lucrative abortion industry is severely shaken.

I asked Monica McCafferty, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, to comment on Jones' email describing the Brady Amendment as "personhood." I also asked her to respond to Jones' view that Brady Surovik was a person.

McCafferty: Questions about when life begins are personal. For some, it's based on faith, for others it's a matter of science or medicine. But this isn't a question that belongs in the state constitution.

From a policy standpoint, the majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade. Yet what we also know based on polls conducted by our national office, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is that most voters don't identify with the terms 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life.' It's a complicated topic and one in which labels don't reflect the complexity.

What most Americans get behind is the ability for women to make their own decisions about pregnancy, and that politicians do not. This sentiment rings true for Colorado voters and in relation to the past three 'personhood' attempts, all of which have failed.

Whether you agree with Jones or McCafferty, the scope of the debate about Jones' initiative clearly goes beyond reckless acts of violence against pregnant women. In fact, 2013 law already protects them.

What's on the table in Colorado is a personhood measure, aiming to ban all abortion.