Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Message to Colorado Voters...

In a couple of weeks, Colorado will vote on a ballot initiative that could possibly override sexual autonomy for thousands of women.

Amendment 48, also called the "Personhood Amendment," takes the insanity of anti-choice extremism to the next level. Even Colorado's devout Catholic, anti-choice governor Bill Ritter says that the proposed amendment "goes too far" and "threatens medical care." But somehow that hasn't stopped a right-wing fringe group headed by 21 year old law student Kristine Burton from getting the exorbitant amount of signatures needed to put this dangerous measure on the Colorado ballot this year, and the same spins they used to procure those signatures have been used to sway a frightening number of voters into supporting it as well. Decries from religious leaders throughout the state have decreased Ritter's influence amongst the anti-choice community, even among those who had been supporters of Ritter in the past.

Burton's project is the Colorado for Equal Rights campaign, another anti-choice faction that has appropriated of feminist and empowering language to soften the appearance of their anti-woman campaign.

This amendment would give legal personhood not only to a fetus, but to a fertilized egg. It poses a clear challenge to the American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' definition of pregnancy; that is, that pregnancy does not even begin until a zygote has implanted on the wall of the uterus (which can take up to three days after fertilization occurs). The amendment would outlaw not only abortion in all its forms, but many forms of contraception as well, such as the IUD, the birth control pill, and emergency contraception. It would also ban some potentially life-saving medical treatments on women who have had sex in the past 72 hours because of possible damage to a potentially fertilized (but unimplanted and therefore undetectable) egg. Women who could have potentially become pregnant as result of recent sexual activity could be denied treatments for up to 72 hours out of a doctors’ legal fears that the treatment could damage a fertilized egg. Dr. Andrew Ross, OB/GYN, criticized the amendment as being based on “bad medicine.” That is, the passage of this amendment could threaten women's lives.

It's easy to write off Amendment 48 as a long-shot jab that won't amount to anything significant. However, support for 48 has grown astronomically as voters are sent pamphlets that contain false information, bunk research, and bad science. One such pamphlet claims that a fertilized egg has not only a heartbeat but brain waves as well, which is ridiculous considering a fertilized egg has neither organ that would make this even remotely possible (fetal tissue begins to grow only after a zygote has implanted).

On the whole this amendment is more proof that the issue is not about abortion, it's about control. In a world where a fertilized egg could supersede the rights of its harboring human, unable to be sacrificed even to give life-saving medical care to the person, the term "pro-life" just doesn't fit. In a world where a woman's body is defined as "pre-pregnant," where her body is made into a vessel that will be sacrificed at any cost in order to create yet another human being, the phrase "equal rights" is simply not applicable. In a world where political and moral beliefs trump medical care, preventative medicine, and scientific research, well... where does that leave us?

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