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September 5, 2008
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Amendment 48: Recipe for disaster

You know it's that time of the year when politics and election coverage " on local, state and national levels " are in our faces every day.

By now you know that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant, and chances are you've heard that the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will seek voter approval for $40 million in bonds in the November election.

But there's one amendment that's being proposed to the Colorado state constitution that has not generated bold-faced headlines, but could have wide-ranging consequences nevertheless.

We're talking about the proposed Amendment 48, which defines the term "person" as any human being from the moment of fertilization. Also known as the "Personhood Initiative," Amendment 48 intends to outlaw abortions in Colorado, but it could also have sweeping effects on Colorado laws that pertain more broadly to women's health and medical care.

By giving a fertilized egg the rights of a human " even before the egg implants in the uterus " Amendment 48 could effectively turn several forms of birth control into murder, not to mention any other medical procedure or medication that unintentionally harms a fertilized egg.

That's a chilling concept, to say the least. The group pushing the amendment is headed by 20-year-old Kristi Burton and is backed by numerous anti-abortion groups, including Focus on the Family.

By defining a fertilized egg as a "person," Coloradans could end up outlawing abortions even when a pregnant woman's life is at risk or the child-bearer is the victim of rape or incest. The pill, which can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, would also become illegal.

And what about couples who have trouble conceiving a child and turn to in vitro fertilization, which often results in the discarding of some embryos?

This special-interest amendment will create a statewide legal mess, and has no place in the state constitution.

In November, we implore voters not to lose themselves in the language of an overloaded ballot. Don't forget to vote "no" on Amendment 48.

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The Aspen Times Updated Sep 5, 2008 06:02AM Published Sep 5, 2008 01:53AM Copyright 2008 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.