The Colorado Title Board approved a personhood initiative yesterday, allowing backers to begin collecting signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.
The proposed abortion ban, Initiative 56, sponsored by designated representatives Angela Eicher and Rebecca Greenwood, would expand the definition of murder to include, “prior to, during or after birth.”
The full text of the approved initiative reads, “A change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning making it illegal to murder a child under eighteen years of age at any time prior to, during, or after birth, and , in connection therewith, providing exceptions for actions to save the life or preserve the health of bothe the mother and the child, remove a child who is no longer living, or remove or attempt to relocation an ectopic pregnancy [according to the American College of Obstetricrians and Gynecologists, ‘An ectopic pregnancy cannot move or be moved to the uterus, so it always requires treatment.’]; making the penalty for murdering a child consistent regardless of the child’s age, level of development, developmental ability or disability, health, prognosis, sex/gender, socio-economic background, origin, nationality, or ethnicity; and authorizing the attorney general of Colorado, concurrently with district attorneys and local law enforcement, to investigate, arrest, and prosecute a person who murders a child.”– Proposed Iniatiative 2021-2022 #56
Similar initiatives, which would have also banned all abortion, including for rape and incest, have consistently been proposed — and rejected — by voters in Colorado during election years since 2008, which saw Amendment 48, the nation’s first “fetal personhood” initiative.
“It speaks to the fact that this is what they want,” said Selina Najar, the political director for COBALT, a reproductive rights advocacy group. “Anti-abortion activists are perpetually trying to outlaw abortion in the state. This is the sixth time that they’ve tried to put this personhood or an abortion ban on the ballot in the state.”
In addition to Initiative 56, Colorado Republicans have introduced four bills addressing abortion in Colorado.
“They bring these bills every single session,” said Najar. “They attempt to ban abortion in the state every two years, reliably. They’ve been relentless in the state of Colorado, and Coloradans have been steadfast in our commitment to not having an abortion ban in this state.”
Rep. Stephanie Luck’s (R-Penrose) bill, “Induced Termination Of Pregnancy State Registrar,” would require health care providers to report information on abortions to the state. Rep. Andy Pico’s (R-Colorado Springs) bill, “Ultrasound Video Demonstration In Sex Education” would require “a 5-minute high-definition ultrasound video demonstration showing each stage of human development” during sex ed classes.
Rep. Dave Williams’ (R-Colorado Springs) bill, “Abolishing Abortion In Colorado,” and Rep. Patrick Neville’s (R-Castle Rock) bill, “Protecting Human Life At Conception” are both examples of personhood legislation that would ban abortion much like Initiative 56 would do.
“It’s probably one of the toughest pro-life bills ever run in the state of Colorado,” said Williams of his bill during a Feb. 15 caucus training hosted by FEC United at Fervent Church in Colorado Springs. “What this bill would simply say is ‘Life begins at conception,’ and that we do not care what Roe v. Wade says, or what the court says, or anyone says. Those lives are to be protected, and if they are murdered, because abortion is murder, then all the regular homicide laws are to apply, and by the way, if a judge tries to interfere, guess what? We’re going to go ahead and try to impeach them for doing such.”
While Iniative 56 is unlikely to be accepted by Colorado voters and the Republican bills are expected to be killed in committee, Democrats have announced plans for legislation, called the Reproductive Health Equity Act, to enshrine abortion access in Colorado law.
“If Roe v. Wade is either eviscerated or overturned, roughly 26 states are poised to, more or less immediately, ban abortion in those states,” said Jaki Lawrence, the strategic communications director for COBALT. “There’s absolutely a real sense of urgency to make sure we either pass proactive legislation, like the Reproductive Health Equity Act that Colorado is running to protect abortion rights in the state, but also to defeat these sorts of measures since we can no longer rely on the court to protect the right to abortion access.”