Archive for the 'Colorado Personhood Initiatives' Category

Will reporters accept silence from candidates on Brady Amendment

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The Colorado Statesman’s Peter Marcus provides an excellent update today on a personhood-backed ballot initiative aiming to change the definition of “’person’ and ‘child’” under Colorado law to include “unborn human beings.”

Signatures for the fetal-homicide measure, criticized by pro-choice activists as a backdoor abortion ban, are due by Sept. 30.

But the question still hanging out there is how Republicans, who favor the personhood position against abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, are going to deal with the latest infant-mortality measure, which is at a minimum a step toward such a ban.

Will reporters let candidates brush it off, as Coffman did in 2012, saying it’s not their focus, even though Coffman was later held up as the poster-child for Personhood USA?

Marcus couldn’t get answers from top 2014 candidates about the so-called Brady Amendment, but he provided this useful roundup on some past positions on abortion and personhood.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, last year said he would not endorse the initiative, despite his pro-life stance and past support for the effort. And former Seventh Congressional District candidate Joe Coors also would not endorse the initiative last year, despite past support.

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck also found trouble in 2010 when he ran against Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet. Buck softened his stance on personhood after Bennet attacked Buck for his position. Buck’s campaign later backtracked, saying he would not vote for personhood. Buck on Wednesday filed paperwork to run for U.S. Senate again in 2014 against Democratic incumbent Mark Udall….

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Republican who is running for governor in 2014, declined comment until Hickenlooper publically speaks out on abortion. Tancredo points out that does not have a recorded stance for Hickenlooper on abortion.

State Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray, who is also seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for governor, did not return a request for comment left by The Statesman.

The positions of candidates on both sides of the aisle regarding the Brady Amendment might be influenced by the stance of the Denver Archdiocese, which, as the Statesman reports, has previously opposed personhood measures but has signaled support for fetal-homicide laws.

Media omission: Western Conservative Summit spotlights the face of the anti-abortion movement that’s rocked Colorado politics

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

If you want to see the faces of the people who support the uncompromising anti-abortion positions of politicians like Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, Rep. Mike Coffman, and Sen. Rick Santorum (who won the 2011 Republican presidential caucus in Colorado), stroll around the Western Conservative Summit, held this weekend in downtown Denver.

“Folks, you can sign a pro-life petition here!” Susan Sutherland, petition coordinator for a Personhood USA-backed campaign to put a fetal-homicide bill on the 2014 CO election ballot, told Summit attendees as they swarmed through the exhibit room Saturday morning.

”Quick signature to recognize an unborn baby as a person under Colorado law,” she said.

“Most of the people here are very agreeable,” Sutherland told me. “It beats being on the streets, and we do a lot of events.”

Most Summit attendees are eager to help, she said, but “a lot of people who come by [our table] say they’ve already signed the petition at church or at another event.” Sutherland added that it’s an issue these people care a lot about and do something about it.

By noon Saturday, Sutherland and her fellow activists got hundreds of signatures on their petition and handed out dozens of petitions for people to take home.

Called the Brady Amendment, after an unborn child killed by a drunk driver, Sutherland’s initiative aims to change the definition of “person” under Colorado law to include “unborn human beings.” This would enable law enforcement officials to bring charges, for example, against a drunk driver who recklessly hits a pregnant woman and ends her pregnancy.

A Colorado law passed this year does exactly this, but the Personhood-backed initiative would go further, likely giving broader legal status to fetuses at the earliest stages of human development.

The phrase “unborn baby” isn’t defined in the language of the initiative. The vague wording has led Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains to conclude that the effort is a “back door” effort to codify human life as beginning at conception , thus banning all abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.

Sutherland, whose personhood movement has arguably had a greater impact on Colorado politics than any other single issue, told me her signature-gathering campaign is “very much on schedule,” compared to past personhood signature-gathering efforts, to turn in the required signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office by the end of September. They’re asking activists to return petition forms by Sept. 7.

“It is so grassroots,” Sutherland said. “We have thousands of petitions out throughout the state. The petitions flood in during the last two weeks. We’ll be doing a lot of scrambling.”

Media omission: Personhood USA spokesperson disappointed by Coffman’s support for abortion-ban exceptions

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

After pointing to Rep. Mike Coffman after the last election as a national model of a winning candidate, in a swing district, who “maintained his 100% pro-life position,” including his opposition to abortion for rape, Jennifer Mason, communications director of the anti-abortion group Personhood USA, is disappointed by Coffman’s statement yesterday that he now “strongly” supports the “exceptions for rape, incest, and protecting the life of the mother” that were included in a House bill banning abortion after a woman is 20-weeks pregnant.

Coffman joined nearly all House Republicans in supporting the abortion ban, and he issued a statement yesterday reiterating his “yes” vote, as well as his support for the rape-and-incest exceptions included in the proposed law.

Coffman’s support for the legislation shouldn’t have surprised reporters, given his track record on the abortion issue, but his decision to back exceptions to the abortion ban should’ve caught the attention of journalists–even if they might have suspected this was coming as Coffman, widely viewed as one of the most endangered Congressman in the country, fights for his political life against Democrat Andrew Romanoff.

Yet, I’ve seen almost zero news coverage of Coffman’s abortion statement. What’s Coffman’s explanation? What’s the reaction of people like Personhood USA’s Mason, who stood with Coffman in the past.

So I contacted Mason to fill in the media gap.

“It is not uncommon for politicians to lose moral ground once they are elected, Mason wrote via email. “Mike Coffman’s vote for the death penalty for babies conceived in rape is very disappointing. Let’s call it like it is: so-called ‘exceptions’ for babies conceived in rape are not exceptions at all. They are compromises that allow for innocent children to be killed. Every compromise causes us to lose ground, catering to our opposition’s demand to de-value human life. We expect better from our elected officials.”

I also asked Leslie Hanks, former President of Colorado Right to Life, for her reaction to Coffman’s new remarks.

Hanks sent me a photo reply, below, of two women holding signs with pictures of apparent fetuses and these messages: “I did not choose to have a rapist for a father. Must I die because of it?” And: “I am not of clump of cells. I am a human being.”

The Denver media embarrassed itself during the last election by essentially failing to question Coffman about his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

The details of Coffman’s thinking, why he’d come to take such a hard-line stance, fell through the journalistic cracks, as Coffman repeatedly told audiences that he’s “not focused on social issues.”

Now journalists are letting Coffman slide by again, as he suddenly supports abortion for rape, without finding out what’s up. When will they start questioning the Congressman on abortion issues?


Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act deserves more press attention

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

UPDATE 8:15 p.m. with comment from Personhood USA.


As expected, Gov. Hickenlooper signed a bill Wed. making it a crime to cause the death of a fetus due to a reckless act against a woman (like a drunk driver hitting a pregnant woman).

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains issued a statement praising the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Mike Foote and Claire Levy, and Sen. Pat Steadman, and stating that the new law “empowers district attorneys and other members of law enforcement to hold criminals accountable for crimes against a pregnant woman which result in the loss of her pregnancy.

“The bill was thoughtfully crafted to protect pregnant women without impeding upon a woman’s right to access reproductive health care,” according to Planned Parenthood. “We thank our state lawmakers for focusing their time and energy on a bill that positively supports women.”

Some Republicans, as well as Personhood USA, opposed the bill, which GOP Sen. Scott Renfroe, referred to as the “Let’s-Go-on-Killing-Babies” bill, because it didn’t give legal rights to zygotes (fertilized eggs) or other forms of human development. The law specifically does not “confer the status of ‘person’ on any human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”

Personhood activists, who aim to ban all abortion and some common forms of birth control, are gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would give legal rights to all “unborn human beings.” The fact that this phrase is not defined in the text of the ballot question makes abortion-rights activists worry that courts could interpret it to mean that all forms of human development, starting with zygotes, should receive legal protection, thus banning all abortion and some common forms of birth control.

Personhood USA spokesperson Jennifer Mason commented via email on the new Violence Against Pregnant Women law:

Mason: Heather Surovik, whose nearly full-term son was killed when she was struck by a drunk driver near her due date, has opposed the Violence Against Pregnant Women act, calling it “possibly the most deceptive bill ever to be signed into law in Colorado.” Like Heather, Personhood USA recognizes that Planned Parenthood and its supporters carefully worded this bill to repeal criminal abortion laws and protect abortion providers even in cases of gross negligence, all under the guise of decrying violence. This bill specifically denies rights and recognition to babies like Brady Surovik, which is why Personhood USA will continue to support Heather Surovik’s petition drive for true justice for pregnant victims, without the hidden agenda of Colorado’s pro-choice political activists.

Media omission: Radio ad aims to boost Personhood-backed fetal-homicide ballot initiative

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

An anti-abortion organization has launched a radio campaign to publicize a ballot initiative, referred to by supporters as the “Brady Amendment,” that would allow law enforcement officials to prosecute people who commit crimes against “unborn human beings.”

“A main goal of [the radio ad] is to let people know the Brady amendment is out there, so people could sign it and get a petition for themselves,” said Bob Enyart, a spokesperson for Colorado Right to Life. “It’s an awareness thing.”

Colorado Right to Life has a $4,600 budget for the ad, which is airing on Christian station KRKS and conservative talk station KNUS, Enyart said.

Here’s the text of the ad:

An abortionist has been convicted of murder. Kermit Gosnell’s house of horrors closed. But Colorado kills many kids from conception through late term. Like Brady Surovik, killed by a drunk driver, these kids are persons. Yet listen to Princeton University’s Peter Singer.

“No, I don’t think it’s problematic to say that a four-month old baby is not actually a person. I think that’s simply true.”

This is widespread, and even taints the White House. It’s up to us to stop this taking of innocent life.

The University of Colorado’s Michael Tooley advocates both abortion and infanticide. Discover Magazine defends the evolution of infanticide. The New York Times published a call to kill newborns. So did the Journal of Medical Ethics.

It’s up to us to stop the horror. Sign the pro-life Brady Amendment. It’s urgent. Call any Colorado Personhood group to get a petition, or just go to That’s

Listen to the radio ad here, as aired on KNUS May 30.

In April, activists started collecting signatures to put the fetal-homicide measure, which is backed by a Personhood USA, on the 2014 ballot in Colorado.

“We’re doing this because we sense this urgency that people, who get a pass from people like you, are calling for infanticide,” Enyart told me. “They call for infanticide is gaining momentum. We’re trying to wake up people who’ve a bit complacent, pro-lifers and Christians.”

Enyart wasn’t able to say if the ad has produced more signatures on petitions, but he said: “I’ve had people tell me how excited they are to hear a great ad on KNUS. And they didn’t know it was my voice on the ad.”

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has described the fetal homicide initiative, which is officially titled “Definition of Person and Child,” as another attempt to codify personhood in Colorado.

Asked to comment on the CRTL’s radio ad, Planned Parenthood of he Rocky Mountains spokeswoman Monica McCafferty emailed me:

“Gosnell ran a criminal enterprise, not a health care facility. Unfortunately opponents of safe and legal abortion have seized on this case in the hope that it would fuel their agenda of restricting access to abortion—and ultimately banning it outright. If there’s one thing everyone observing this case can agree on, it’s that all women, regardless of means, deserve access to high-quality health care delivered by licensed healthcare professionals who adhere to the most rigorous professional standards, including providing emergency care. That clearly did not happen at Gosnell’s facility.

“Ultimately, the lesson of the Gosnell case is that we must have and enforce laws that protect access to safe and legal abortion; we must reject misguided laws that will limit women’s options. The Brady Amendment, as with previous ‘personhood’ attempts officially rejected by Colorado voters twice now at the ballot, could potentially outlaw various forms of birth control. We know increasing access to affordable birth control helps decrease the need for abortion. Let’s focus on policies that actually help women.”

The text of the initiative doesn’t define the phrase “unborn human beings.”

Colorado Right to Life’s radio ad appears to be the first ad campaign for a 2014 ballot initiative.

Media Omission: Personhood backers focus on new ballot initiative as “Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women Act” advances

Monday, May 6th, 2013

A bill awaiting the signature of Gov. John Hickenlooper would make it a crime for a drunk driver to hit a pregnant women, causing the death of her fetus.

Perpetrators of this and other reckless acts against pregnant women would face prosecution for terminating a pregnancy, whereas now, due to a loophole in state law, they do not.

You might think this is something all sides of the abortion debate could get behind, but think again.

“Personhood” activists, who’ve twice lost ballot initiatives in Colorado to define life as beginning at conception, opposed the bill, as did GOP legislators, like Sen. Scott Renfroe, who was quoted in the Denver Post as saying the bill should be called “Let’s Go on Killing Babies…” and that abortion amounts to the “Holocaust of our day.”

Why didn’t Personhood USA support the bill, even though it specifically does not “confer the status of ‘person’ on any human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”

“The response is very simple and direct,” Personhood USA’s Gualberto Garcia Jones told me via email. “Personhood could not support Planned Parenthood’s bill because, under it, Brady Surovik at 8 lbs, 2 ounces would not be considered a person.”

Brady Surovik was the name chosen for her baby by Heather Surovik, who was hit by a car when eight-months pregnant, resulting in the end of her pregnancy.

Still, why wouldn’t Garcia Jones support the legislation, giving prosecutors a stronger hand to pursue crimes against pregnant women, even if her fetus would not be considered a victim? Why not fight for legal recognition of zygotes (fertilized eggs) and other early forms of human development in other forums?

“The bill is purporting to ‘create(s) a new article for offenses against pregnant women,’ Garcia Jones responded. “Heather is up and about, she is recovering. It is Brady, her son, that is dead. How can the bill drafters claim to bring justice for the death of Brady, while reinforcing and denying that his life was worth protecting?”

“[The bill] specifically denies personhood recognition to babies like Brady,” added Personhood USA Spokeswoman Jennifer Mason. “That is why Heather says she can’t support it, and neither can we.” (Earlier this year, they threw their support behind a competing bill, defeated by Democrats.)

So Personhood backers will push ahead with their “fetal homicide” ballot initiative, which they call the “Brady Amendment” allowing law enforcement officials to prosecute people who commit crimes against “unborn human beings.”

The phrase “unborn human beings” isn’t defined in the text of the initiative, leaving open the possibility that all stages of human development, from zygote through the end of pregnancy, could be considered by courts as “people” and receive legal protections under Colorado law.

That’s why Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains sees the fetal homicide initiative as another attempt to codify personhood in Colorado, according to Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Monica McCafferty.

Media omission: personhood backers start collecting signatures to put “fetal homicide” measure on 2014 ballot

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Personhood activists are gathering Thursday night in Highlands Ranch to launch their petition drive to put a so-called fetal homicide measure on the 2014 election ballot.

The initiative would protect “unborn human beings” under the Colorado criminal code, thus allowing for the prosecution of those who commit crimes against “unborn human beings.”

The phrase “unborn human beings” is not defined, leaving open the possibility that all stages of human development, from zygote (fertilized egg) through the end of pregnancy, could be considered by courts as “people” and receive legal protections under Colorado law.

This approach, which mirrors a bill introduced by GOP Rep. Janak Joshi in the Colorado Legislature this year, has been criticized by abortion-rights advocates as a back-door abortion ban, because it could give a fetus legal status and open the door for criminal charges against doctors who provide abortions. Others have claimed it could even justify the murder of abortion providers.

State House Democrats killed Joshi’s bill in January, on a party-line vote, and later the House lawmakers passed a bill that would make it a crime to recklessly terminate a pregnancy (e.g., if a drunk driver hits a pregnant women.) Colorado law already states that intentionally doing so is a crime but not unintentionally.

The Democrats’ bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote and Rep. Clair Levy, specifically does not “confer personhood, or any rights associated with that status, on a human being at any time prior to live birth.” (For more details see Melanie Asmar’s Jan. 30 Westword piece on the topic.)

The key provision of the proposed constitutional amendment reads:

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.

At the launch of its petition drive Thursday, Personhood activists will hear from Heather Survoik, who was hit by a car when eight-months pregnant, resulting in the death of her baby, which she had already named “Brady.” Hence, Personhood activists are referring to their petition drive as the “Brady project,” or the Brady amendment, according to Personhood USA spokesman Gualberto Garcia Jones.

“Brady and all unborn children should be considered persons,” Garcia Jones, who’s one of the Amendment’s two sponsors, told me, adding that the courts have specifically asked for clarification of the terms defined in his measure, which is titled, “Definition of Person and Child.”

Asked if he thought his proposed amendment would be more successful than personhood measures defeated in 2008 and 2010, Garcia Jones said:

“The prior amendments were more abstract. This is more specific. The opposition will have a harder time saying that this is an effort to criminalize women. We’re talking about protecting unborn children and their mothers who have no recourse for death of their babies.”

The initiative’s language was not challenged and has been approved by the Title Board.

Garcia Jones is hoping that a personhood measure, giving legal rights to zygotes (fertilized eggs) and banning all abortion, will also appear on the 2014 election ballot in Colorado.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office determined last year that personhood activists hadn’t collected enough signatures to make the 2012 ballot.

Garcia Jones said his organization is “probably going to go to federal court” to seek more time to collect signatures and make the ballot.

If they succeed, personhood backers will have two measures on next year’s ballot.

Both initiatives look the same to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains spokeswoman Monica McCafferty. They both aim to ban abortion in Colorado, she said.

Media omission: Fearing backlash, group apparently seeks stealth anti-abortion candidates

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

New polling shows that eighty percent of likely voters are pro-choice, in the sense that they are pro-letting-women-decide-if-they-want-to-have-an-abortion. But they don’t necessarily want to be labeled “pro-choice.”

And half of the people who call themselves “pro-life” are actually pro-choice, if you start digging into what they really think.

The poll, from Planned Parenthood, raises the question, what to do if you’re anti-abortion and you want to get elected?

Anti-abortion activists in Colorado have designed ways for anti-choice candidates to run for office and mobilize support from anti-abortion voters, without disclosing to the wider public what they really think about abortion.

Here’s how they’re doing this.

Colorado Right to Life blogs on whether federal and state candidates are “100 percent pro-life.” This year’s determination was based on a nine-question survey, which asked for yes-no responses to queries on personhood (which defines life as beginning at conception), state funding for abortion, and abortion regulations.

The survey isn’t normally made public by CRTL, but this year, Weld Country freshman Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey, who’s sponsoring a bill banning most abortion in Colorado, including abortions for rape and incest, published the CRTL survey on his website.

In a cover letter to Humphrey accompanying the 2012 candidate survey, CRTL wrote:

We realize there are a few districts, even Democrat primaries, where a ‘pro-life’ label might keep a good candidate from being elected. If you feel this is one of those rare cases, please answer our survey but clearly indicate that you would prefer back-channel conversations only. We would then want to talk with you over the phone or in person, and we can work out together how you could best be helped.

If you are concerned you don’t know how to properly ‘message’ your pro-life views to voters, we have a veteran political communicator who will volunteer to help candidates in this area–just let us know.

This surprised me, I have to say, because, love them or hate them, the folks at Colorado Right to Life don’t seem to play politics much–or they don’t play politics very well. They’re motivated by their issue. They seem to tell their version of the truth, and take the political fallout.

But does the “back-channel” caveat mean Colorado Right to Life would lie on its blog about a candidate’s position on abortion, calling them, for example, supporters of Roe v. Wade when they are not?

If CRTL doesn’t lie about candidate positions, what does the phrase “work out together how you could best be helped” mean?

I tried to get a response from CRTL, but I was only able to reach former CRTL Vice President Leslie Hanks, who told me she was “utterly confidant that no he/we wouldn’t lie.”

But how does the “back channel” work? Hanks didn’t say, but Colorado Right to Life should explain it ASAP.

Otherwise, you can’t help but wonder: do we have stealth personhood supporters in our midst at the State Capitol? Secret Planned Parenthood haters? And when will they reveal who they really are?

A major force in Colorado politics and beyond, personhood movement deserves continued media scrutiny in 2013

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

If you know the people behind Colorado’s “personhood” movement, you’d be surprised if you heard they were going to abandon their cause of banning all abortion, as well as common forms of birth control. They’re a dedicated lot, no one would argue with that.

Their commitment is reflected in the end-of-the-yearfundraising appeal of Personhood USA, excerpted below:

2012 is coming to a close and we have a lot to be grateful for in the Personhood movement.  Yes, there have been defeats along the way, but with every defeat we have come back stronger, and our opponents are terrified by the knowledge that the Personhood movement is gaining ground with every fight.

We are often asked, why are you fighting for Personhood, don’t you know you’re going to lose?  The answer is so simple.  We know that abortion is simply legalized murder, and therefore, the fight for personhood is an existential struggle, we have no choice but to fight.

In 2012, the Personhood movement has been active in dozens of legislatures, it was part of the presidential election, it won key battles in several state supreme courts, and was argued all the way to the US Supreme Court.

The legal, legislative, cultural and religious foundations for victory were firmly planted in 2012, but most importantly of all, Personhood achieved the most important single objective we set out to from day one: the Personhood movement yet again stood up boldly for Truth, we were an unwavering voice for the voiceless.

In the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, we are called to be faithful, no to be successful.  Success is God’s alone.

We hope that you will continue to stand with us in the Personhood movement and join with us as our individual voices become a chorus, and the chorus becomes a movement, and the movement becomes the revolution that will undoubtedly defeat the culture of death.

Here in Colorado,  the personhood folks, though small in number, have got to be considered a major force, despite their repeated losses. They’ve not only raised the profile of their own issue to a level many fringe activists can only dream about, they’ve also played a major role in the partisan political world, affecting political races large and small across the state since 2008.

Arguably, the response by pro-choice groups to Colorado’s personhood initiative in 2008, helped embolden Democrats, in 2010, to attack GOP Senate candidate Ken Buck head on regarding his extreme anti-choice positions, which played a key role in his defeat. This led to similar Democratic tactics around the country–tactics that help re-elect Obama last year.

So it’s hard to imagine anyone arguing that personhood isn’t a major, historic presence in Colorado politics and byond. As, such the movement deserves the continued scrutiny of reporters in 2013, starting with coverage of the simple facts that they’re not giving up and that their claims of being successful and influential are accurate, despite the common perception to the contrary.

Journalists should note that Personhood USA holds Coffman up as poster child for GOP’s future

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with a comment from Personhood USA


Given decisive role the abortion issue apparently plays in Colorado elections nowadays, local reporters should pay attention to a statement issued by Personhood USA Monday, showering praise on Rep. Mike Coffman for not backpedaling on his “100% pro-life” position during the last election.

Personhood spokesperson Jennifer Mason wrote that Coffman’s victory is proof that her organization’s (and Coffman’s) uncompromising stance against abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest, leads to Republican victories.

Mason slammed Sen. John McCain’s recent argument that the GOP should soften its stance on abortion in order to win future elections. She believes moderate Republicans are unelectable, and the socially conservative wing of the GOP is growing and represents the future of the Republican Party.

Mason wrote:

In Colorado, where the personhood movement began in 2008, voters shied away from Republican candidates who had flip flopped on the issue. These candidates, following the unproven John McCain formula of “backing away” on abortion issues, lost.

Congressman Mike Coffman, although he did not endorse any state amendments this year including personhood, maintained his 100% pro-life position (without compromising or denying the personhood of children) and won.

There is a lesson to be learned here. The old guard of the GOP is dying. Their moderate candidates are unelectable, their base is unmoved by their attempts to energize the left, and their foundation is crumbling.

There is a Civil War brewing in the GOP, and it’s not pretty. If McCain and his ilk are successful, we are looking at a major defection to a third party, and the ultimate death of the Republican party.

During the campaign, Coffman said he wasn’t “focused on social issues,” and he barely discussed abortion, other than to say he was against all abortion, except to save the life of the mother.

Coffman’s stated exception allowing for abortion, to save the life of the mother, is apparently acceptable to the personhood backers, who argue that if the life of a pregnant woman is in danger due to a pregnancy or for whatever reason, the doctor needs to realize that he or she is treating two patients, the woman and the fetus at whatever stage of development.

As then Vice President of Colorado Right to Life Leslie Hanks told me via email ealier this year:

“If mom’s life is in danger, the doctor has two patients & he should make every effort to save both.”

In other words, the doctor would have two patients in one body to care for.

It’s unclear to me, under a personhood law, how a doctor would decide between saving the fetus or the pregnant woman, if both could not be saved. Would he or she be a death panel of one? How long would the doctor continue treating both woman and fetus if it meant that both were more likely to die if the doctor didn’t make a choice between the two?

Coffman has never stated that he’d always save the woman’s life over the fetus’, just that abortion would be an allowable choice for the doctor to make.

So Coffman’s position, allowing for abortion to save the life of the mother, seems to be consistent with that of personhood backers.

Jennifer Mason said the issue whether to allow abortion to save the mother’s life is one of “semantics” and “splitting hairs.”

“Of course, you try to save the mother first,” she told me, “and then you try to save save the baby. We’re painted all the time as only caring about the baby. But there’s no purpose in that. If the mom dies, the baby dies too. Nobody wants that. We try to save both, but of course the mother’s life has to be prioritized.”

“There is no case where it’s medically necessary to kill the child to save the mother,” Mason said. The surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, she said, requires the removal of the “baby,” which doctors can then try to save. If it dies, this would be an “unintended consequence” and therefore not an abortion, she said.