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

13 October 2008

Boulder Weekly Versus Amendment 48

By Diana Hsieh

In its survey of the slew of measures on the ballot in Colorado, the Boulder Weekly published a strong statement against Amendment 48:

Amendment 48
Definition of a "person"

No

Amendment 48 would change the Colorado Constitution to define the term "person" as being "any human being from the moment of fertilization" and would apply this new definition to all parts of the Constitution that protect the natural and essential rights of persons, ensuring access to courts and ensuring that no person has his or her life, liberty or property taken away without due process of law.

Those in favor of Amendment 48 are hoping voters will give them a legal foundation to make all abortions and some forms of contraception illegal in Colorado. They also hope that Amendment 48 can serve as a catalyst for overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to have an abortion. At this time, the state constitution does not include a definition of the word "person."

Those opposed say that Amendment 48 is a direct challenge to a woman's right to have an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. They point out that Amendment 48 would also make common forms of birth control illegal, including birth control pills, emergency contraception (the "morning-after" pill), and intrauterine devices (IUDs) because they can interfere with the a fertilized egg's ability to implant in a woman's uterus. A broad coalition of doctors and other health-care providers have warned that Amendment 48 could have a negative impact on women's health care, making it harder for doctors to treat women with fertility problems, cancer and other serious diseases.

Do you want a state in which the government can decide what kinds of contraception a woman can use? Do you want a state where rape and incest victims are forced by law to carry and give birth to their attacker's babies? Do you want a state where many common treatments for infertility are banned? Do you want a state where women carrying deformed, non-viable fetuses are forced to bring those pregnancies to term, knowing that they will go through 40 weeks of pregnancy and hours of painful labor to deliver a baby that cannot live beyond birth? Do you want a state in which miscarriages lead to mandatory forensic exams?

We at Boulder Weekly do not. Though Amendment 48 is written to sound simple, it would have a devastating impact on women's lives and liberty. The state should not be able to force any woman to use her body for any cause not of her own choosing. To force rape and incest victims to gestate and give birth to their assailant's babies is to rape them again, this time with the approval of the state. The decisions a woman makes about contraception, pregnancy and life-saving medical care are hers alone and are not the business of the government -- or nosy neighbors.

Those who oppose this measure include not only women's rights activists, but our anti-abortion governor, Bill Ritter, and the pro-life Colorado Catholic Conference. Other opponents include the Colorado Bar Association, which predicts a legal nightmare concerning property and probate issues, and the Colorado Medical Association, which sees a decline in women's health care if the amendment is passed.

The people who promoted this amendment -- including several national fundamentalist Catholic organizations intent on banning birth control outright and out-of-state anti-abortion organizations -- want to enforce their religious point of view by eliminating certain forms of widely used contraception and by making abortion illegal in all circumstances. They don't care about the consequences to women or to our courts, but we as voters must care.

The consequences of Amendment 48 reach far beyond overturning Roe v. Wade and would place Colorado on the same level as El Salvador and Nicaragua, where miscarriages lead to involuntary exams and criminal investigations. That's not how to treat women.

Vote NO on Amendment 48.
Bravo to the Boulder Weekly! Then again, I'm not surprised, as the very best article on Amendment 48 so far was authored by Boulder Weekly editor Pamela White. If you haven't yet read it, you can (and should) do so here: Extreme Measures.

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