Anti-abortionists push ballot measure |

Anti-abortionists push ballot measure

P. Solomon Banda
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Anti-abortion supporters submitted more than 131,000 signatures to place a measure on Colorado’s November ballot that would define a fertilized human egg as a person ” a tactic some hope could neutralize the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Colorado for Equal Rights, a group founded by Kristi Burton, a 20-year-old homeschooled law student, presented the ballot petitions to the secretary of state’s office Tuesday for verification. Some 76,000 voter signatures are required to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the state ballot.

Burton insisted the amendment is not about abortion but rather “the definition of human life.” Dozens of supporters, including Mark Hotaling, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Colorado, openly embraced an anti-abortion message.

“Make no mistake. Come November, Colorado will be ground zero for the pro-life movement,” Hotaling said.

Abortion rights groups say Burton’s measure could also affect birth control because the most widely used form of contraception works by preventing fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterus.

Opponents also say it could deter in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research.

Similar petition drives are under way in Montana and Mississippi, while other efforts have stalled in Georgia and Oregon.

“Any attempt to restrict access to health care and open the door to government intrusion is a very serious issue,” said Toni Panetta, spokeswoman for Protect Families Protect Choices Coalition, which announced last week it would oppose the measure.

Panetta and others claimed the measure’s supporters are trying to deceive voters because they don’t mention abortion in their amendment.

Colorado voters have not been supportive of anti-abortion measures. In 2006, an effort to ban late-term abortions failed for lack of signatures. In 2000, about 60 percent of voters rejected an amendment that would have required a 24-hour delay for women seeking abortions.

“Whenever the issue gets presented as a black and white choice, this is a pro-choice state,” said political consultant Eric Sondermann. “I haven’t seen anything that would change that.”

Under a banner proclaiming “pro-life,” Burton announced the results of the petition drive to cheers from dozens of volunteers who shouted “Victory!” and “Praise the Lord!”

“We must end abortion now,” said volunteer Sandra Depperschmidt. “We have an extra generation that should be here but isn’t. I will not stop until it is completely outlawed.”

Volunteer Lori Goebel, a part-time post-abortion counselor from Loveland, said of previous efforts to limit abortion: “Any law that ends with, ‘then you can kill the baby,’ is a bad law.”

Brian Rooney of the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which has written similar proposals for other states, has said the amendment’s principles, once enshrined in a state constitution, could serve as a test case before the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Also Tuesday, another Colorado group launched two signature drives ” one for a ballot measure that would set criminal penalties for corporate fraud, the other to require employers to explain reasons for firing their employees. The campaign by Protect Colorado’s Future follows a recent court decision to reverse fraud convictions against five former Qwest Communications executives.