Just a year after Albuquerque struck down a late-term abortion ban, Colorado voters are facing a proposed amendment to the state constitution that has the potential to ban all abortions, according to election documents.
The proposed Amendment 67, titled “Protection of Pregnant Mothers and Unborn Children,” seeks to change the definition of “person” and “child” to include “unborn human beings,” according to the amendment.
However, this definition change has serious ramifications beyond simply the language itself, according to Kendall Lovely, president of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance at UNM.
“They are framing it as a step to protecting pregnant women,” Lovely said. “It is a restriction on reproductive rights.”
The language in the proposed amendment is vague and leaves too much up to interpretation, she said.
Because the fetus would have the same rights as a fully grown human being — beginning at the moment of conception — an abortion could be considered murder or manslaughter, even in cases of incest or rape. Even a miscarriage could leave the expecting mother in the hands of the law, she said.
Health care professionals might also be in danger of legal action if one assists in an abortion or even if one delivers a stillborn baby, she said.
“Even if the abortion is not conscious, someone could get punished for that,” Lovely said. “There is no exception in this bill.”
The amendment is being propelled by Personhood USA, a national religious organization that seeks to “glorify Jesus Christ” by ending abortion through changing laws nationwide to define any fetus as a full person, therefore granting the fetus full legal rights, according to the group’s website.
The website states the organization plans to continue changing the definitions in the country and to eventually add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Lovely said that although the group may achieve a few victories in individual states or counties, Personhood USA might fail at its overall mission because of the breadth of its intentions.
“To eliminate abortion is their overall goal,” Lovely said, “but its jurisdiction is so comprehensive and extensive.”
The battles are not just in Colorado, however.
According to court documents, on Oct. 2 the U.S. Court of Appeals, fifth circuit, upheld Texas’ 2013 House Bill Two, which effectively closed 75 percent of the abortion clinics in the state, leaving only eight to serve the state’s population of more than 26 million people.
The bill includes regulations on the structure of abortion clinics, such as the width of hallways, and restrictions on medical abortions, according to court documents.
Lovely said that if Amendment 67 passes in Colorado, especially after the case in Texas, more abortion battles may begin to brew here in New Mexico.
“If it passes in one place, that strengthens their core objectives overall,” Lovely said. “If it passes in one state, then obviously the next target will be extending those restrictions to other states and they can potentially come to Albuquerque.”
Sade Emsweller, public relations representative for the pro-life campus group Students for Life, said in a statement that the group fully supports the amendment, and has always taken the stance that unborn babies are persons.
“We as a group are not surprised at all that a bill like this has been proposed, considering past attempts that have been made in Colorado, and the recent attempt to limit late-term abortions after 20 weeks gestation in New Mexico,” Emsweller said.
Two members of the group will be campaigning in Colorado in support of the bill this weekend, she said.
Amendment 67 is slated to go before Colorado voters on the November 4 ballot.
Daniel Montaño is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JournoByDaniel.