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DENVER — For the first time in three tries, the backers of a Colorado “Personhood” amendment have failed to make the ballot.

Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced Wednesday that the group behind the proposed ballot measure fell 3,859 signatures short of the 86,105 they needed to qualify for the November ballot.

It’s an unexpected setback for the backers of what would have been Initiative 46, an amendment to change the “application of the term person” to define a fetus as a person in an effort to legally challenge abortion, a proposal Coloradans voted down by huge margins in 2008 and 2010.

But it’s also a political setback of sorts for Democratic candidates, hoping to highlight current and past GOP support for the measure — Mitt Romney himself supported Mississippi’s Personhood initiative earlier this year — in an effort to appeal to women voters in this critical swing state.

Planned Parenthood issued a press release Wednesday that the news of the ballot measure’s failure is a victory for Colorado women.

“Health decisions should be left to a woman, her doctor, her family and her faith — not politicians,” said Monica McCafferty, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

“Let today be a signal to Personhood supporters who return to Colorado year after year with anti-women, anti-family, anti-patient privacy proposals — Coloradans have said ‘no’ to intrusion into our personal, private medical decisions and we mean it.”