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Ballot Watch 2012: Giving Legal Rights to a Fertilized Egg

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OVERVIEW

Moment of Fertilization
Moment of fertilization

Anti-abortion, anti-birth control activists are back at it again with a measure that would define a fertilized egg as a "person" in the Colorado constitution in sections 3, 6 and 25 of the Colorado Bill of Rights. Proponents of the initiative have been clear that their intent is to establish a mechanism to ban all abortion.

This measure has far-reaching consequences on important life decisions. It would impact literally thousands of laws and put the government, lawyers and the courts into our personal lives.

Read More: Fact Sheet on Anti-Women's Health Amendment

WHAT VOTERS WILL BE ASKED

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term "person", as used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law, to include any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being?

IMPACT ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE

Proponents of the initiative have been clear that their intent is to establish a constitutional basis to make all abortion illegal. However, the measure uses vague and unclear language that could have dangerous and far-reaching consequences on important life decisions, including the ability to use emergency contraception after sexual assault, what type of birth control method to use, and treatment for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy, cancer, and infertility. Here are just some of the possible consequences if the measure passes:

  1. Increasing unintended and unwanted pregnancies in Colorado



    The most effective forms of birth control like the pill, injectibles like Implanon and Depo-Provera, NuvaRing, the patch, and IUDs work primarily by inhibiting release of an egg into the womb. They also alter the lining of a woman’s uterine wall in a way that makes the uterus inhospitable to fertilized eggs, thereby inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg if fertilization does occur -- preventing a pregnancy from occurring. By giving rights to fertilized eggs, the 2012 measure would make it illegal to use these forms of birth control.
  2. Severely restricting medical research & advances in reproductive technology
    One of the most common forms of assisted reproductive technology is in-vitro fertilization, where several fertilized eggs are created in a lab environment. Once created, some of these fertilized eggs are injected into a woman’s body with the hope that implantation will occur and the woman’s body will begin producing the hormones necessary to sustain a pregnancy. Because of the cost of this procedure, more fertilized eggs are usually produced than are used. Giving legal rights to fertilized eggs could ban in-vitro fertilization -- as well as some stem cell research that is being used to find cures for chronic diseases and disabilities.
  3. Ignoring the reality of miscarriages and non-implantation
    The 2012 measure fails to recognize the prevalence of miscarriages (both when a woman is aware of being pregnant and when she is not) and nonimplantation – even when a woman is not using a contraceptive method that can inhibit implantation. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that between one-third and one-half of all fertilized eggs never fully implant. The 2012 measure would open the door for criminal investigations into miscarriages or situations where a woman's body rejected implantation of a fertilized egg.
  4. Subjecting women facing ectopic pregnancies to intrusion by politicians and the courts
    Ectopic pregnancies occur when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, such as in the fallopian tube or cervix. Because the location of implantation is not large enough to allow full gestation of the developing fetus, an ectopic pregnancy could result in the rupture of the fallopian tube, cervix, or other organ where implantation occurred if the pregnancy is not removed. The 2012 measure could be used to deny live-saving medical care to a woman because it could endanger a fertilized egg.


WHAT YOU CAN DO

You can make a difference! Here are a few simple things to help us defeat this anti-choice bill this upcoming fall:

  1. Donate to support our efforts to launch a massive, statewide voter-education campaign about this deceptive & dangerous initiative.
  2. Educate your friends, family & colleagues: Download talking points here (PDF file) to talk to your friends and acquaintances. Start the conversation with a simple question: "Did you know people are trying to change Colorado's constitution in a way that could make most forms of birth control illegal?" From there, just share the information contained on this page -- or hand out the flyer.
  3. Volunteer for the campaign to defeat this ballot initiative! NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will plug you into the official campaign to protect reproductive rights and reproductive health care in Colorado in 2008 and 2010.
  4. Learn more: Join our e-mail listserve to get the latest updates about this ballot initiative -- as well as other attempts to restrict reproductive health care and reproductive rights.
  5. Tweet about the 2012 measure and get the conversation started. Use #NoMeansNo in your messages.
  6. Write about why this bill is anti-choice!: Get tips to write a letter to your local paper. Use the same tips to blog. Either way, you can raise awareness about the misleading nature of this dangerous constitutional amendment.
  7. Vlog! Post a YouTube video. Tell people why you will not be supporting the 2012 measure to give legal rights to a fertilized egg. Explain why you don't think fertilized eggs should have constitutional rights.
  8. Tell 10 people about the threats that giving legal rights to a fertilized egg would pose to women and families. It's easy. Trust us. Most people remember voting against this amendment two years ago and in 2008 -- nearly 3/4 of Colorado voters rejected this amendment the first two times around. YOU are the most persuasive voice your friends and family can hear from about this important issue.


OTHER RESOURCES

Below are resources on past personhood measures in Colorado. You will notice that despite the 2012 campaign's new language, the threats to Colorado women and families remain the same as past attempts!

 
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