By Peri Duncan
CU News Corps
The personhood issue in the upcoming midterms in Colorado is Amendment 67, also referred to as the “Brady Amendment.” This year it is centered on the premise that pregnant mothers and their unborn children need greater protection from violence than Colorado law already provides.
The VoteNo67 campaign, backed by Planned Parenthood Votes, is the main opponent of the legislation. The group’s website promotes the claim:
“Amendment 67 would ban all abortions in Colorado, including in cases of rape, incest and when the health of the mother is in danger.”
CU News Corps finds this claim to be false for the following reasons:
Amendment 67 does not specifically reference abortion at all, let alone specific situations; and
Although Amendment 67 may be further interpreted to impact abortion laws, it would not immediately ban abortion if passed.
Amendment 67 is worded on the ballot as follows:
“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining ‘person’ and ‘child’ in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act to include unborn human beings?”
There is no mention of the word “abortion” in the amendment, let alone any reference to rape, incest, or situations where the health of the mother is in danger. It also specifies that it will be redefined in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act, not necessarily the entire Colorado constitution.
The main goal of the amendment, according to the Voice for Brady campaign, is to protect pregnant mothers and their unborn children. However, its main proponents are Personhood USA and Colorado Right to Life, two pro-life organizations with the end goals of banning all abortions, although phrased in various ways.
The risk of Amendment 67 banning abortion in Colorado is in further court interpretation.
If Amendment 67 passed, it could not immediately ban abortion. Several prominent pro-life Republicans such as GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez oppose the bill because they say the vague phrasing makes the repercussions unclear.
So what would Amendment 67 do right away?
The immediate impact of Amendment 67 would be exactly as it states: redefining “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act to include unborn human beings, under the premise of protecting pregnant women and their unborn children from “wrongful death.”
What would need to happen to ban abortion in Colorado?
Courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, would have to interpret Amendment 67 and possibly overturn standing decisions. Abortion remains a legal right for all U.S. citizens. A federal ban on abortion would require overturning the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Even the most zealous organizations in favor of banning abortion do not believe that a state personhood measure alone has the potential to ban abortion.
National Pro-Life Alliance, a far-right organization, claims that passing a federal Life at Conception Act is the most effective way to overturn Roe v. Wade. Colorado U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) co-sponsors the current federal Life at Conception Act. Because such pro-life organizations believe state personhood measures do not go far enough, it follows that their goal would not be reached with solely the passing of legislation such as Amendment 67.
Even if a case challenging Roe v. Wade was brought up to the Supreme Court based on Amendment 67, it would take a significant amount of time and other information before anything became of it.
A personhood amendment added to a state constitution might raise the likelihood that a case challenging Roe v. Wade could be brought to the Supreme Court. However, a ban would come from a court case and not a state constitutional amendment.
The legislation makes no reference to the word “abortion” at all, or any circumstances concerning an abortion. Due to these factors, VoteNo67’s statement that Amendment 67 would ban all abortions including cases of rape, incest, and when the health of the mother is in danger, is false.