The so-called "personhood amendments" popping up throughout the states seek to outlaw abortion by stating that human life begins at conception or "the beginning of biological development." In short, these amendments claim that zygotes — or fertilized eggs — are "persons" and that these persons are entitled to life and liberty. To destroy a fertilized egg is akin to murder.
Personhood amendments create numerous fuzzy legal issues. Opponents say that it is possible that some forms of contraception will be outlawed with them. Another possible legal problem might be that a woman who is pregnant and has a miscarriage might be found guilty of murdering a "person" if the miscarriage was the result of "negligence" — like a car accident, for instance. We have also reported here at God Discussion that under these so-called personhood amendments, women might be forced to carry to term seriously disabled fetuses with little likelihood of survival, such as those with anencephaly. (See related article on anencephaly, criminal investigations for miscarriages and contraception bans.) Personhood amendments can also impact stem cell research and possibly jeopardize the health of women because the rights of the egg might trump over the mother's health. Some of these amendments do not provide exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
In Colorado, a personhood ballot was defeated in 2008, but it is on the ballot again this year as Amendment 62. Colorado's amendment will be the only initiative voted on in 2010. However, a similar ballot initiative will be voted on in Mississippi in 2011. Signatures are being collected for personhood amendments in California, Montana and Florida. Personhood lawsuits are underway in Alaska, Nevada and Missouri.
Last month, opponents of Colorado's personhood amendment staged a rally at the state capitol which was crashed by pro-lifers who claimed that opponents were liars and that the personhood amendment will not jeopardize the lives of women but will instead, protect the lives of unborn children.
Back in July, Pastor Walter Hoye, Founder and President of Issues4Life and sponsor of the recent California Human Life ballot initiative,announced that he was embarking upon a statewide tour of Colorado promoting Amendment 62. Hoye planned on meeting with Catholic and Protestant church leaders throughout the state to promote the concept that "preborn babies are persons, not property."
Here's a campaign ad from Colorado's personhood advocates, who claim in their video description that their amendment "requires that all human beings be treated as legal persons with the fundamental rights to life, equal protection, and due process of the law."
This past weekend, on September 11, advocates from ten states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin gathered in Wichita, Kansas for the Midwest Personhood Pro-life Conference. The conference "answered the distortions and legal objections to personhood measures and focusing on the strategic significance of the movement in ending abortion."
The conference was sponsored by Personhood Kansas, which claims in its mission statement:
The goal of Personhood Kansas is to conduct a campaign which results in the amending of the Kansas Constitution so that every child of God is protected by love and by law. In so doing, our greatest desire is to glorify Jesus Christ.
Every person is endowed by our Creator with the right to life. Abortion for any reason is wrong because abortion kills a baby and violates this sacred right. Because abortion takes the life of an innocent person, abortion undermines the value of all human life. Supporters of Personhood Kansas are united in our belief that it is always wrong to kill a baby.
Every human being leaves a legacy consequential to the lives they live, not only for the things we do, but equally significant for the things we do not do. By sanctioning the killing of preborn children, the people of Kansas have put ourselves at odds with the clear commands of our Creator, and, as a consequence, we will assuredly reap what we sow.