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

11 June 2010

By Endorsing Horrific 'Personhood' Measure, Republicans Court Defeat

By Ari

[From Ari Armstrong's blog:] The following article originally was published May 28, 2010, by Grand Junction's Free Press.

By endorsing horrific 'personhood' measure, Republicans court defeat

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

All we can figure is that Colorado Republicans have a political death wish. What else can explain candidates like Scott McInnis and Jane Norton falling all over themselves to endorse the wildly unpopular, absurdly drafted, and life-damaging "personhood" measure headed for the ballot this fall?

Amendment 62, a slightly redrafted version of 2008's Amendment 48, would, if passed and fully enforced, ban all abortions, even in cases of risks to the woman's health, rape, incest, and fetal deformity. It would outlaw the birth control pill, the IUD, "morning after" medications, common fertility treatments, and some types of medical research.

It would subject women with suspicious miscarriages to possible criminal prosecution. It would require doctors to sacrifice the health of a woman to the survival of a zygote or fetus, which would inevitably result in the death of some women. It would require women to carry pregnancies to term against their wishes, by government force. [See details.]

And the sponsors of this nightmarish police-state proposal have the audacity to call it "pro-life." We can think of no other measure more harmful to the lives of actual people ever to gain ballot approval.

The measure may do better than the 27 percent of votes it gained last time. In 2008, Republicans were dispirited; this year they are energized. Voters, sick of big-spender George W. "Bailout" Bush and the shenanigans of state Republicans, decided to give the Democrats a chance. The Democrats proceeded to further muck up everything from health care to car manufacturing to foreign policy.

Moreover, the new measure replaces 2008 language about "the moment of fertilization" with a confusing line about "the beginning of biological development." While the measure's sponsors declare that still means fertilization, no doubt some voters will imagine otherwise. (We might as well call the proposal the Lawyer Enrichment Act for all the court disputes it would generate.)

Given that 73 percent of Colorado voters opposed the measure last time, obviously leading Republican candidates must endorse it now. Apparently Republicans think they can win in this state by alienating not only most Hispanic voters but most women (and their concerned male friends) as well.

Republicans seem to have forgotten that, in 2008, John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin for her evangelical credentials hardly helped the ticket. Meanwhile, Republican Marilyn Musgrave lost her Congressional seat largely because of her obsession with faith-based politics, and Democrats successfully hammered various anti-choice Republicans running for state legislature.

Apparently this year Republicans in tough races fear the religious right in the primaries more than they fear mainstream voters in the general election. Such Republicans hope that people are so fed up with the Democrats that they'll momentarily forget about Republican craziness.

We already knew that Ken Buck (candidate for U.S. Senate) and Dan Maes (candidate for governor) endorsed "personhood." Your senior author heard McInnis, the frontrunner for governor, endorse the measure. The Daily Sentinel reported that Jane Norton, the leading Republican for U.S. Senate, also endorsed it. (Cinamon Watson, a spokesperson for Norton, confirmed the endorsement; see your younger author's report at http://tinyurl.com/62norton.)

We do not doubt that Maes and Buck are True Believers: they believe that God forbids abortion. (That is hardly the Christian consensus, and more importantly law should not be based on sectarian dogmas.) The endorsements of McInnis and Norton look remarkably like pandering to us. [See the update about Maes.]

Previously Norton called for abortion bans with possible exceptions for "rape, incest, and life of the mother," exceptions which at least in the first two cases clash with the "personhood" measure. For once we side with Colorado Right to Life and "question Jane Norton's sincerity on this issue."

Interestingly, a new survey from Public Policy Polling shows Senator Michael Bennet taking the lead for the first time. We wonder whether Bennet can sustain that lead by attacking Norton over "personhood." (The same outfit shows a tied governor's race.)

Scott McInnis's endorsement is more bizarre. As the Denver Post reported, back in 1998 McInnis was on the Advisory Board of Republicans for Choice. A letter to the Federal Election Commission shows McInnis's name on the group's letterhead. "Scott has no memory of that," according to his spokesperson.

True, McInnis also built an anti-choice voting record, earning a zero rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, for voting for such incremental measures as a partial-birth abortion ban except to save a woman's life. Yet we are supposed to believe that, in twelve years, McInnis has evolved from a pro-choice Republican to endorsing a measure outlawing the birth control pill as well as all abortions.

Frankly, we don't know which prospect is more frightening: that McInnis is pandering to the religious right, or that he really supports Amendment 62.

It remains to be seen whether, this year, Colorado Republicans will get away with threatening to impose dangerous sectarian dogmas by government force. But, over the long term, freedom-loving Coloradans aren't going to stand for it.

Linn Armstrong is a local political activist and firearms instructor with the Grand Valley Training Club. His son, Ari, edits FreeColorado.com from the Denver area.

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