Though we have yet to see it explored in a campaign ad, one of the more damning arguments that has been made to us in recent weeks against the “Personhood” ballot measure–which GOP CD-7 candidate Joe Coors helped fund in 2010–concerns a potentially lethal unintended consequence for women suffering from what’s known as an “ectopic pregnancy.”
This is a product of the simple language used in 2010’s Amendment 62:
Person defined. AS USED IN SECTIONS 3, 6, AND 25 OF ARTICLE II OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, THE TERM “PERSON” SHALL APPLY TO EVERY HUMAN BEING FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE BIOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THAT HUMAN BEING.
Note the lack of exceptions.
Subsequent to the failure of Amendment 62 in Colorado, a very similar initiative made the ballot in Mississippi, Proposition 26. Proposition 26’s defeat in highly conservative Mississippi was a perhaps-unrecoverable loss for the movement to pass “Personhood” around the country. If it couldn’t pass there, it probably can’t pass anywhere. And how was this measure fought off in a state where it should have passed? A opponents explained–ectopic pregnancy.
The medical definition of a viable pregnancy has always been the point at which a fertilized egg is implanted in a woman’s uterus. Many long-established forms of contraception, including the IUD, work by preventing implantation.
Then there are potentially fatal accidents of nature, in which the egg, instead of proceeding to the uterus, becomes stuck in one of the fallopian tubes in what is called an ectopic pregnancy. The embryo can never develop into a live birth and the ectopic pregnancy must be ended or the tube will rupture and the woman will die. Before there were blood tests to reveal the failure of an egg to implant normally, most women did die from ectopic pregnancy. One of the obvious dangers of this amendment would be the prosecution of doctors for performing a standard life-saving procedure. We are talking here about a medical measure to save the life of a real person, not of a group of cells that can never become a person because nature has made an error…
CBS News reported in early November of 2011:
“The thing that we’re mainly concerned about is our physicians’ ability to take care of our sisters and our daughters and our mothers in ways that we’ve been taking care of them for 100 years,” said Dr. Tom Joiner, a family practitioner who is also president of the state medical association. “What this thing is doing is it’s taking it out of the realm of medical decisions into the realm of legal decisions.”
Joiner and other opponents of Initiative 26 are concerned that by attempting to criminalize abortion, the initiative will criminalize routine medical practice that intentionally or not terminates a pregnancy. There is no mention in the initiative of an exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, nor for the health of the mother, as in the case of life-threatening conditions such as ectopic or molar pregnancies.
We understand that Republicans are really tired of talking about “Personhood,” and complain bitterly to reporters who have the temerity to keep asking. Ken Buck said as much, both before and after he renounced his support for Amendment 62. But Coors has not renounced his check–and reporters shouldn’t care if the subjects of their questioning find it annoying. Coors shouldn’t be able to hide from his record, even if it’s repeated like a broken record by detractors. Why dodge a question you can simply address? Isn’t that the way to stop the repeated questions?
Bottom line: in Colorado, opponents of “Personhood” never had to get into the weeds of arguing about ectopic pregnancies–it was enough for Colorado voters to learn that the measure would have banned many common forms of birth control in addition to abortion, and “Personhood” failed by over 70% of the vote both years it was on the ballot here.
But be assured, Colorado’s 2010 “Personhood” initiative had the same inherent flaw.
And folks, if CD-7 soccer moms see on TV that Joe Coors helped fund a measure that could have criminalized life saving treatment for ectopic pregnancy, something that terrifies all women of child-bearing age, do you think their reaction will be good for his already-uphill bid?
If anything, Democrats are annoyed that more Republicans didn’t write these checks. Joe Miklosi and Sal Pace would love to have such a damning indictment in their races.