No doubt, it’s “personhood” again in a different package

Reporters covering the signature-gathering campaign for the so-called Brady amendment, which would change the definition of “person” and “child” under Colorado law to include “unborn human beings,” might wonder whether to call it “personhood” initiative.

Apparently, anti-abortion activists have had the same question, prompting Gualberto Garcia Jones, who’s listed on the CO Secretary of State’s website as a “designated representative” of the initiative, to send an email July 24 to supporters clarifying the issue:

Some of our supporters have asked whether the Brady Amendment is a personhood amendment. The answer is yes! A personhood measure is any proposal that constitutionally seeks to recognize (without exceptions) that unborn babies are persons deserving of our love and protection by law….

One need look no further than the section of the Colorado law that deals with homicide to see how central the concept of personhood is: the homicide section is appropriately titled “Offenses Against the Person.” The Brady Amendment recognizes that all human beings, not just those who are born, are persons and amends the criminal code to that effect! …

Whether it is a drunk driver who avoids facing any charges for the death of a baby that is just days from birth, or a hospital that avoids malpractice liability for the death of unborn babies in its care, or an abortionist who kills children in the womb for a living, the fact is that all three rely on the same reasoning: the baby in the womb is not a person and therefore his or her life has no value in the eyes of the law.

[Read Garcia Jones' entire email at the end of this blog post.]

But in contrast to Jones’ email and Colorado Right to Life’s recent comment in the Colorado Statesman, the official website of the initiative’s backers doesn’t mention “personhood” at all. It frames the initiative as a way to protect “pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts.”

In the FAQ section of its website, called “A Voice for Brady,” the initiative’s backers state:

“The Brady Amendment is not about politics, it is an amendment that will protect pregnant mothers and their unborn babies from violent and dangerous criminals.”

To make matters more confusing, the name backers have chosen for their initiative, the “Brady Amendment,” refers to an unborn child killed by a drunk driver in Longmont. Prosecutors couldn’t press charges of vehicular homicide because the mother, Heather Surovik, survived, and Colorado law did not allow prosecution for reckless acts against Brady, her an unborn baby.

All this might lead reporters to label the Brady Amendment a “fetal-homicide” initiative, designed simply to allow prosecution in cases like Surovik’s.

But a 2013 law now enables prosecutors to charge a drunk driver who terminates a pregnancy, like the driver who slammed into Heather Surovik. A GOP-backed bill, mirroring the initiative, died in Committee.

And even if there were no such law, the intent of the initiative, as Garcia Jones wrote, is broader. The initiative would change the definition of “person” and “child” to “unborn human beings.” This change would be mandated not just in the Colorado Wrongful Death Act but in the entire Colorado Criminal Code.

The vague phrase “unborn human beings” would be left to the interpretation of a judge. Opponents have pointed out that a judge could rule that all stages of human biological development, from conception on, should be considered “unborn human beings,” thus making personhood the law of the land in Colorado and banning all abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, as well as common forms of birth control.

I asked Jones, who’s also legal analyst with Personhood USA, via email, why his website doesn’t mention “personhood.”

Jones: Not calling the Brady Amendment the Personhood Amendment is not about running away from Personhood, it is about honoring the short life of Brady Surovik.

Heather and Brady’s story stands on its own and it is a powerful real-life example of what happens when the preborn are not considered persons.

Planned Parenthood is in trouble and they know it, they can talk about fertilized eggs all day long, but they can’t answer the simple question: was Brady Surovik, a baby only days from being born a person with basic rights?…

Obviously, Planned Parenthood understands that if a child in the womb like Brady is recognized as a person then the logic behind the lucrative abortion industry is severely shaken.

I asked Monica McCafferty, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, to comment on Jones’ email describing the Brady Amendment as “personhood.” I also asked her to respond to Jones’ view that Brady Surovik was a person.

McCafferty: Questions about when life begins are personal. For some, it’s based on faith, for others it’s a matter of science or medicine. But this isn’t a question that belongs in the state constitution.

From a policy standpoint, the majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade. Yet what we also know based on polls conducted by our national office, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is that most voters don’t identify with the terms ‘pro-choice’ and ‘pro-life.’ It’s a complicated topic and one in which labels don’t reflect the complexity.

What most Americans get behind is the ability for women to make their own decisions about pregnancy, and that politicians do not. This sentiment rings true for Colorado voters and in relation to the past three ‘personhood’ attempts, all of which have failed.

Whether you agree with Jones or McCafferty, the scope of the debate about Jones’ initiative clearly goes beyond reckless acts of violence against pregnant women.

Both sides agree that what’s on the table is a personhood measure, aiming to ban all abortion, and reporters should describe it as such.

——

Jones’ July 24 email to Personhood USA and Brady Amendment backers:

Some of our supporters have asked whether the Brady Amendment is a personhood amendment. The answer is yes! A personhood measure is any proposal that constitutionally seeks to recognize (without exceptions) that unborn babies are persons deserving of our love and protection by law.

In the infamous 1973 decision of Roe v. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote that:

If this suggestion of personhood is established, the case for abortion, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed.

One need look no further than the section of the Colorado law that deals with homicide to see how central the concept of personhood is: the homicide section is appropriately titled “Offenses Against the Person.” The Brady Amendment recognizes that all human beings, not just those who are born, are persons and amends the criminal code to that effect!

The language from the Brady Amendment that makes it a Personhood measure is the following:

Section 2.  In the interest of the protection of pregnant mothers and their unborn children from criminal offenses and negligent and wrongful acts, the words “person” and “child” in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act must include unborn human beings.

Whether it is a drunk driver who avoids facing any charges for the death of a baby that is just days from birth, or a hospital that avoids malpractice liability for the death of unborn babies in its care, or an abortionist who kills children in the womb for a living, the fact is that all three rely on the same reasoning: the baby in the womb is not a person and therefore his or her life has no value in the eyes of the law.

The Brady Amendment has the potential to personalize the struggle to recognize the right to life, just like Emmet Till did for the civil rights movement. In honoring Brady with the hard task of collecting signatures, we honor the millions we have lost and we honor God.

In 2008 and 2010, hundreds of thousands of Colorado voters signed petitions to try to pass amendments to the Colorado constitution that would recognize the due process and equal protection rights of the unborn.

The abortion industry (with the willing cooperation of the media) characterized the personhood amendments as extreme, the product of a fringe group of people intent on giving rights to “fertilized eggs.” But Brady Surovik was 8 pounds and 2 ounces when on July 5, 2012 a drunk driver ended his life in Longmont, Colorado. At the time, several thousand pro-life volunteers were collecting signatures for the 2012 Personhood Amendment. Brady’s family collected signatures for personhood at Brady’s funeral.

Shortly after the drunk driver ended the life of Brady Surovik, Boulder District Attorney, Stan Garnett, stated that the drunk driver would not be charged with homicide because under Colorado law unborn babies like Brady are not considered persons. The Brady Amendment, while honoring the memory of Brady Surovik, would apply to all human beings who have been deprived of their personhood.

If the Brady Amendment passes in November 2014, it will be the greatest victory for the personhood of the unborn in the last 40 years. That’s why we need your help to be a voice for Brady.

For life,

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

Director, Personhood Education

 

 

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