Our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness
can only be secured by a state strictly separated from religion

11 July 2008

Amendment 48

By Diana Hsieh

In the November 2008 election, Colorado voters will be able to vote on a proposed "Definition of a Person" amendment to the Colorado constitution. The amendment is as follows:

Amendment 48

Definition of Person

Ballot Title: An amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term "person" to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as "person" is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law.

Text of Proposal:

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado:

SECTION 1. Article II of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read:

Section 31. Person defined. AS USED IN SECTIONS 3, 6, AND 25 OF ARTICLE II OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, THE TERMS "PERSON" OR "PERSONS" SHALL INCLUDE ANY HUMAN BEING FROM THE MOMENT OF FERTILIZATION.
This amendment was approved for the ballot on May 29th, 2008 with 103,377 valid signatures. (76,047 signatures were needed.)

If approved, this amendment would outlaw all abortions whatsoever -- even when the mother's life is at risk. It would outlaw any form of birth control which prevents implantation of a fertilized egg, such as the pill. It would imperil in vitro fertilization, because extra frozen embryos would be considered persons with full legal rights, including inheritance rights (!).

Significantly, the advocates of this amendment such as Colorado Right to Life and Colorado for Equal Rights offer no secular justification for their views. They defend this amendment on the grounds that abortion is contrary to God's law, as is evident from their liberal quoting of scripture.

The Coalition for Secular Government opposes this amendment -- and we will fight it vigorously between now and the election. To force the people of Colorado -- whatever their religious views -- to live by the dictates of Christian scripture violates every person's freedom of religion. To base laws on religious dogma rather than on secular, reality-based principles of individual rights violates the principle of separation of church and state.

A woman has an inalienable right to control her own reproductive functions by whatever means she chooses, including by abortion, birth control, and in vitro fertilization. Embryos and fetuses are not persons; they are not biologically independent creatures but encased within and wholly dependent on the woman. To grant them legal rights would flagrantly violate a woman's liberty rights over her own body.

The preservation of reproductive rights and secular government in Colorado depends on Colorado voters sending a clear message to the theocrats in November: "No, NO, HELL NO on 48."

Postscript

Thanks to the good sense of Colorado voters and the hard work of all who opposed it, Amendment 48 was defeated resoundingly: a whopping 73% against and just 27% in favor. Hooray! Thank you, Colorado!

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