Colorado is ground zero for the “personhood” movement, the radical push to endow fertilized eggs with all the rights of U.S. citizens. Personhood proponents have repeatedly attempted to amend Colorado’s constitution to define life as beginning from conception, which would outlaw all abortion and potentially even some forms of contraception. Now, they’re gearing up yet again for the 2014 elections.
But, as the Colorado Statesman reports, the personhood movement still has a long way to go. The far-right issue tends to divide the Republicans in the state (as it typically does in other states, too). Some GOP lawmakers have already indicated they’re not interested in reviving the personhood fight anytime soon.
The state’s Republican Party Chairman, Ryan Call, told the Colorado Statesman that he doesn’t expect GOP candidates to publicly come out in support of personhood in 2014, since the party is currently focused on other issues. “Our focus in the upcoming campaign is where it ought to be — on the overreaching of the state and federal government, the tax and regulatory regime that’s stifling small businesses, the need to improve the quality of education and help the lives of individual people and families and the citizens of our state,” he said.
And the Republican Majority for Choice, Colorado’s leading Republican pro-choice organization, is ready to actively fight back against personhood if the issue pops up again. “As Republicans, we cannot sit by while single-issue fundamentalists dramatically change our state constitution,” Amanda Mountjoy, the organization’s chairwoman, said.
The attitudes among conservatives in Colorado reflect the personhood movement’s national struggles. Personhood initiatives have failed in states across the country, including deeply red states like Mississippi. Mainstream anti-choice groups, like Americans United for Life and Susan B. Anthony List, have opted to distance themselves from personhood and focus on a less extreme legislative strategy. The one notable exception is North Dakota, where the legislature voted to approve a personhood ballot initiative that will come up before voters in 2014.
Nonetheless, far-right abortion opponents are still trying. Keith Mason, the president of Personhood USA, told the Colorado Statesman that his organization is gaining steam despite its growing list of defeats. “We’re gaining; we’re changing people’s minds every time we do it,” he said. “I’ll continue to do that, I think that’s worthwhile. And ultimately what we’re about is to change hearts and minds and the mindset here in Colorado.”