Well, here we go again folks. On Monday the Colorado Personhood Coalition submitted 112,121 signatures for a “personhood” amendment, of which 86,105 are required for advancement. This will be their third consecutive campaign to outlaw abortion rights in the state, and let’s hope it is their third defeat. As reported by the Huffington Post, Personhood Colorado was defeated in 2008 and 2010 by a 3-1 margin. Mississippians defeated “personhood” in November 2011 with the help of Students Voting No on 26, a coalition comprised of Feminist Majority Leadership Alliances and other students in our Choices Campus Leadership Program.
“Personhood” amendments like the one in Colorado seek to define a “person” at the moment of conception or fertilization, opening the door for a whole host of problems for women and doctors alike. What it actually may mean is that the rights and protections of a fertilized egg will be of greater or equal importance to those of the woman. It will undoubtedly outlaw abortion and could outlaw many common forms of birth control, without exception for the life or health of the woman or cases of rape or incest.
Many reproductive rights advocates and activists worked tirelessly in Colorado and Mississippi to defeat these harmful measures in the past, and that is exactly what we will have to do again. Students played a huge role in the fight in both states, since they are able to mobilize their campus communities and educate young voters on what this might mean for them and their peers. After all, those who would be most affected by this ridiculous amendment are young women, poor women, and women of color. These groups of people are less able to get over the financial and social hurdles that this legislation would put in place. For instance, it would be more difficult for a student juggling school and a job to have the money, time, and/or support to travel out of state to obtain the care they need. Also it would be near impossible (although it is currently extremely difficult) for a low-income woman to obtain funding, making contraception and abortion access for her non-existent, especially compared to middle or upper class women.
We need to shut down these harmful initiatives once and for all, and show the country that we will not tolerate criminalization of women’s bodies. Please spread the word to all of those you know in the Colorado about this important issue, and if anyone is interested in working against this “personhood” amendment in Colorado, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have seen students come up with creative and effective ideas for these types of campaigns, and we really want to help young people do what they do best, fight back and win!
Embryo photo via Wikimedia Commons
Keep Abortion Safe and Legal photo by Sarah Shanks.