Amendment 67 language too restrictive for many voters | CraigDailyPress.com

Amendment 67 language too restrictive for many voters

Janelle O'Dea

Although some states around the nation have passed laws to make abortion illegal, the personhood measure on Colorado's ballot this November doesn't completely come from anti-choice support.

Personhood USA, the advocacy group for Amendment 67, shares the story of Heather Surovik on its website.

Personhood USA also supports North Dakota's Measure 1, another personhood initiative.

Surovik was driving with her mother in 2012 while eight months pregnant when a drunk driver hit their car. Surovik and her mother sustained injuries while Surovik's 5-year-old son was unharmed.

Surovik lost the pregnancy and the drunk driver cannot be charged for killing her unborn son Brady because he could not be recognized as a person under current Colorado law.

She decided to do something about it and filed the "Brady Amendment," or what others know as Amendment 67.

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If passed, it will be added to the Colorado Constitution. The amendment reads:

"In the interest of the protection of pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts, the words 'person' and 'child' in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings."

More simply, the amendment would redefine one legal term in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act. It would change "person" to "unborn human being."

Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid said he thinks it is too easy to amend the Colorado constitution, and wishes these types of issues would go through the proposition process instead of using the amendment process.

"If 67 passes, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the courts," Kinkaid said. "Because we’ve gone this route before and it winds up going to Supreme Court."

He recalls an amendment in Colorado going to the Supreme Court before, and said, "The Supreme Court ruled over the people of Colorado. On something like 67 I could see that happening again."

Those that will vote against Amendment 67 are concerned about the language of the amendment opening doors to too many restrictions.

"There are a lot of unintended consequences if it goes through," said Craig resident Shannon Moore.

These unintended consequences could include restrictions on emergency contraception and abortions, including in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.

It could also restrict access to common forms of birth control, like the pill and intrauterine devices, commonly known as IUDs. It's thought that because these methods can prevent an egg from implanting in the uterus or stop ovulation, passage of this amendment could eventually restrict them.

Opponents are also concerned the language is open enough to leave pregnant women vulnerable. Some say this amendment could cause women who suffer miscarriages to be investigated for murder or manslaughter.

While the amendment does not state these unintended consequences, the No on 67 campaign's website states that the language is "misleading" and "far-reaching."

Moffat County Democratic Party Chair Jo Ann Baxter said she's opposed to the measure for several reasons.

"I think it erodes a woman’s right to choose and it doesn’t even allow, from what I understand, it doesn’t even allow for pregnancies that are not viable to be aborted," Baxter said. "For all of the standard reasons, it’s just not good policy. If it passes, then what happens? We’ll be in court for the next 15 years, and that’s not cheap."

Moffat County’s Republican Party chair is also against the amendment.

"While Republicans tend to be pro-life, many believe that provisions need to be in place to protect the health of the mother," said Brandi Meek, Moffat County Republican Party chair.

She added: "It's frustrating that this 'war on women' idea includes only one issue."

Contact Janelle O’Dea at 970-875-1795 or jodea@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @jayohday