- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2012

Colorado authorities this week approved a resident-led ballot initiative that would prohibit the killing of innocent human life, but opponents are expected to file a legal challenge by next week.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has asked for certified documents needed for an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, Richard Coolidge of the Colorado secretary of state’s office said Thursday. They have until Wednesday to file their appeal, he added.

Such a challenge is being prepared, Monica McCafferty, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, confirmed Thursday.

This is the third time a “personhood” amendment is being advanced to voters; amendments in 2008 and 2010 were defeated by Colorado voters. A Mississippi personhood amendment was rejected by voters two months ago.

The new Colorado amendment - which will need 86,000 signatures to be placed on the November 2012 ballot - differs from earlier amendments in that it offers an unprecedented list of effects and definitions.

For instance, the amendment says it would have no impact on contraceptives and assisted-reproduction activities that do not “kill an innocent person.” However, it would affect - and presumably prohibit - products and activities that destroy human beings “at any stage of development.”

“This amendment simply affirms that most basic of all human rights - the right to live - for all people, including the youngest and most vulnerable members of our human family,” said Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of Personhood Colorado.

This week, the Colorado secretary of state’s Title Setting Board held a rehearing on the amendment, unofficially known as “Application of the Term Person.” It approved it with a few changes, such as removing the phrase “right to life,” Mr. Jones said.

Amendment opponents asked state officials to throw out the amendment because it covers more than one subject.

The longer ballot language “actually poses more questions and greater legal ambiguity,” said Vicki Cowart, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

“This new language is merely a smoke screen for Personhood Colorado’s real agenda, which is to restrict a woman’s ability to make personal, private medical decisions about her own body,” said Ms. Cowart, adding that her group and the Protect Families Protect Choices Coalition, which defeated the personhood amendment in 2010, would work to defeat the new amendment.

Mr. Jones said efforts to block the personhood amendment will only help galvanize momentum for it.

“Our biggest hurdle to clear with the signature process was going to be motivating our base to do this a third time, having lost the prior two times,” said Mr. Jones. But “having Planned Parenthood sue us will be helpful to us … because it will motivate that base, and make clear who we are fighting against and what we are fighting for.”

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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