Inability to accept fetus’ legal status stops anti-abortion zealots from protecting fetuses

Sometimes you want political change soooo much that you refuse to acknowledge the legal status quo, even if admitting to legal reality might help your own cause.

That’s where extreme anti-abortion activists find themselves today with the fetal protection bill, which has been withdrawn by State House Republicans.

The Denver Post did a good job Friday illuminating that Republican lawmakers objected to language in the bill that simply stated the reality for fetuses in Colorado. They are not considered “persons,” despite two failed ballot initiatives and other failed legislative actions. The bill stated that nothing in the bill “shall be construed to confer the status of ‘person’ upon a human embryo, fetus or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”

That’s the reality for fetuses, whether they like it or whether you like it. And that’s what killed the bill, according to The Post.

You might argue, why did the legal status of the fetus need to be spelled out in the bill at all?

Well, because the bill’s purpose was to criminalize hostile acts against the fetus. To do this, to express this bipartisan idea, you have to refer to the fetus as something. You have to use your words!

So lawmakers apparently got together and used words that tried to be sensitive to those who wish fetuses were considered legal persons but also recognized fetal reality in Colorado.

Colorado representatives wrote a fetal-protection bill, with bipartisan support, whose title and language use the words “unborn child,” the term favored by those who support “personhood.”

Ari Armstrong pointed out Friday that the bill’s

-title and language explicitly refers to an “unborn child.” As I’ve argued, this “vague, non-objective” language “obscures the important distinction between a fetus and a born child.” Given that ambiguity, language clarifying that a fetus is not in fact legally a “person” is absolutely essential to the bill.

Now, for a bill with a neutral title, such as “A Bill to Protect Embryos and Fetuses from Criminal and Reckless Harm,” specific language about “personhood” would not be necessary, so long as the bill’s provisions unambiguously refrained from restricting abortions.

But it appears that referencing an “unborn child” for the narrow purpose of protecting a fetus, while acknowledging the fetus’ legal status in Colorado law, was not good enough for the extreme anti-abortion group, and so the bill was killed.

You may despair and think there’s no hope for a bill like this to ever pass due to the inability of one side to recognize the (as they see it) horrible legal reality that confronts them.

But how about moving back to the days before we had written words? This might work for the anti-abortion right!

Diagrams pointing to the thing legally called the fetus could be inserted in the bill wherever the word “fetus” should rightfully appear.

We could respect the fantasy world occupied by the zealots and still protect the fetus, which is the word those of us who abide by the rule of law accept and respect.

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