Earlier this month, Governor Bill Ritter announced his opposition to Amendment 48 which seeks to change the Colorado state constitution to grant a fertilized egg the status of a human being, complete with equal rights. The groups pushing the amendment advertise it as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, but it targets far more than that. In fact, even those opposed to legal abortion, like Ritter, have good reason to reject the proposal too.
The creators of Amendment 48 have been coy since the start. They haven't fully explained the implications of their plan and with good reason--it's extreme. Amendment 48, if passed, would undermine our right to have a baby by establishing the legal groundwork to outlaw IVF treatment. It threatens our right to plan a family by adding the most commonly used forms of birth control alongside abortion to the list of banned procedures. The state, under this proposal, could intervene in a woman's life, even a woman with cancer and deny her life saving medical treatment if it could endanger a fertilized egg. This constitutional amendment is not about protecting life. Amendment 48 does nothing less than rob us of the ability to make many of life's most important decisions.
The architects of the proposed amendment know this. The initiative's sponsor Kristi Burton asserts, "As far as birth control, IVF and abortion and all that, our amendment doesn't ban anything." But then she slyly admits, "That would be up to the legislature and courts. If our amendment passes and that's (a fertilized egg) considered a person you'd have to view those issues in that way." Ms. Burton knows full well that the only purpose to granting a fertilized egg full human rights is to target the right to birth control, IVF and stem cell research. If it were simply about targeting the right to an abortion, then Amendment 48 would have attempted to define life as starting at the moment a pregnancy begins and not before, as Amendment 48 does.
The groups supporting Amendment 48, as listed on the Personhood Colorado website, represent the most extreme wing of the right to life movement. These groups and individuals lead campaigns against contraceptive access. They don't believe that individuals should decide what's best for themselves according to their values. For example, the American Life League hopes to ban contraception entirely and this year led a campaign called "The Pill Kills." Its purpose was to confuse the public into thinking the most common and effective forms of birth control, like the birth control pill, cause abortion. They held protests outside of family planning clinics nationwide trying to convince Americans to stop using contraception. Another backer, Human Life International, targets the poorest and most desperate places on earth. In these distressed countries, it seeks to block access to birth control and to de-fund relief agencies that distribute contraception. The Pro-Life Action League, another Amendment 48 supporter, held a conference several years ago entitled "Contraception is Not the Answer." Many of the individuals signed on in support of Amendment 48 are most famous for their anti-contraception work and activities. Dr. David Hager is credited with helping to block over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. He led the FDA to ignore the advice of its own scientists and for the first time in its history make a decision based exclusively on ideology. Neil Noesen, another supporter, is a Wisconsin-based pharmacist who made national news by denying a woman her prescription for birth control and refusing to transfer it to a nearby pharmacy that would fill it. Supporter Dr. William Colliton published an article entitled "Birth Control Pill: Abortifacient and Contraceptive" in which he said, "There is an unarguable logic connecting the contraceptive act and the abortive act. They are both anti-life."
Access to birth control options including emergency birth control is the only proven way to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. That's why even 80% of self-described "pro-life" Americans support access to contraception.
Voters must know that Proposal 48 threatens much more than the right to a safe and legal abortion. For women to achieve equality, they must have access to birth control. We need to respect people's ability to make their own life decisions and not impose our values and views upon others. The extreme team assembled in support of Prop 48 knows its hidden purpose and potential--and they are committed to making sure that before Election Day you don't.
To learn more about of the anti-contraception movement's activities visit www.birthcontrolwatch.org