Personhood coverage should include key fact that the measure would ban common forms of birth control

<b>Update:</b> In an article published today, the Colorado Statesman’s Peter Marcus reports that this year’s personhood  initiative has been clarified to state that only  “methods of birth control and assisted reproduction that kill a fetus” could be affected. This still means that the forms of birth control, like IUDs and some forms of the Pill, that could kill a fetus would be banned. So, despite the clarification, nothing has changed birth-control wise about personhood since 2010.


If you know the name “Ken Buck” you undoubtedly know that the personhood amendment would, among other things, ban common forms of birth control.

Buck claimed not to know this when he endorsed personhood, so he un-endorsed it during the 2010 campaign. As the Denver Post reported at the time:

Buck said Saturday through his campaign spokesman that he will now vote against the [personhood] measure. In an earlier interview, he said he did not understand until recently that passage of the amendment would likely outlaw some common contraceptive methods, like the IUD or birth control pills that can reduce the chances of implantation for a fertilized egg.

“This isn’t how I looked at the personhood amendment,” Buck said. “I’m not in favor of banning common forms of birth control.”

Ever since, it’s been an established fact that a personhood law would ban common forms of birth control.

Yet, in this week’s coverage of personhood, only The Denver Post and the Durango Herald reported the critical fact that the personhood measure would ban common forms of birth control.

The Denver Post’s Electa Daper wrote Aug. 9 that “some forms of birth control” would “effectively” be banned under personhood. The Post story stated:

On Monday sponsors of the ballot initiative, which would amend the state constitution to effectively ban all abortions and some forms of birth control, turned in petitions with 112,121signatures to Colorado’s secretary of state. [BigMedia emphasis]

The Durango Herald reporter Joe Hanel described personhood this way in an Aug. 8 about state ballot initiatives:

This year is the third time around for the Personhood initiative, which seeks an amendment to the state constitution to declare that embryos from the moment of conception have the same legal rights as any person. The amendment could lead to bans on abortion, common forms of birth control and fertility treatments. [BigMedia emphasis]

Unfortunately, other coverage of personhood, including stories on 9News, CBS4, didn’t mention birth control at all.

That’s a big omission, because, among personhood’s many and varied impacts, outlawing some common forms of birth control could be its most significant, at least from your everyday person’s perspective (O\r every week’s person’s perspective or twice weekly person’s perspective, depending on who you are).

I’m not saying other basic facts about the amendment, that it would ban abortion and define life as beginning at the zygote (fertilized egg) stage, are of lesser importance. They’re also basic descriptors that should be worked into all personhood coverage.

But to be fair, reporting on the personhood amendment should at least include all three facts. It would 1) ban on abortion, 2) ban on common forms of birth control, 3) define life as beginning at conception.

There proposed amendment would do much more than that, of course, like ban abortion in the case of rape and incest. And the ramifications of giving legal rights to zygotes are mind-bogling.

And these many and varied components of personhood should be explored with current endorsers and opponents alike, as well as previous supporters, like candidates Joe Coors and Mike Coffman.

But ongoing reporting of the measure shouldn’t leave out the birth-control aspect.

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