No on personhood campaign launches with big rally at Capitol
DENVER — Few things fire up Colorado progressives like the issue of personhood, a policy they oppose and a political opportunity like few others.
On Tuesday, with personhood likely to make the November ballot for a third time as Amendment 67, a huge crowd of progressive activists gathered on the west steps of the Capitol to launch the No on 67 campaign.
The appearance of a cardboard cut-out of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner, who supported the last two personhood initiatives in 2008 and 2010 but opposes the same measure this year, shows that Democrats aren’t simply looking to defeat the initiative, which has been crushed twice, but to wield it as a political hammer.
“I personally extended an invitation to Congressman Gardner this morning to attend the rally, given that he no longer supports personhood,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, the executive director of ProgressNow. “He didn’t show up.”
Runyon-Harms, whose group brought the cardboard cutout, also encouraged Gardner to remove himself of a co-sponsor of federal personhood legislation.
“That’s just very contradictory. You can’t have it one way in Washington and another way in Colorado. It just shows that Coloradans can’t trust where he stands on this really important issue.”
By defining a fertilized egg as a person, Amendment 67 would restrict ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest and also ban access to emergency contraception and commonly used forms of birth control — including the Pill and IUDs. It could also impede the use of in-vitro fertilization for infertile couples who are hoping to have a family.
“Amendment 67 is bad medicine for women and for Colorado,” said Dr. Ruben Alvero, one of the speakers at the rally. “It would allow the government and the courts to violate the sanctity of doctor/patient privacy, and allow government access to women’s private medical records.
“As an OB/GYN, I opposed this dangerous proposal when it was put before Colorado voters in 2008 and 2010. I oppose it again this year.”
Colorado voters rejected personhood by three-to-one margins both times it was on the ballot.
Democratic Sen. Mark Udall has sought to bolster his advantage with women voters this fall by highlighting Gardner’s stance on personhood in his first two television ads of the campaign.
Gardner has responded by explaining his reversal in an ad of his own, and by coming out in support for making birth control available over the counter.
The Udall campaign Tuesday fired off a press release with a picture of Gardner at a GOP press conference back in 2008, among a handful of lawmakers who made a show of signing personhood petitions.
“Coloradans won’t be fooled by Congressman Gardner’s flailing attempts to hide his true agenda on radical Personhood measures, which he is still pushing in Washington,” Udall for Colorado spokesperson Kristin Lynch said. “Coloradans have repeatedly rejected the radical anti-choice measures that Congressman Gardner has supported, proving that Gardner’s record is just too extreme for Colorado.”
The Republican’s changed stance on personhood has alienated backers of the initiative.
“Women need the full range of health care options when it comes to family planning. Every woman is different and every situation is different,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, at Tuesday’s rally.
“Amendment 67 does the opposite of giving women informed choices. It’s dangerous and it limits their freedom to live their own lives.”