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Petition to grant embryos 'personhood' fails in Colorado

3 September 2012
Appeared in BioNews 671

A proposal to extend the definition of human life to 'all human beings at any stage of development' has failed to gain enough support to be put to a public vote in Colorado, USA.

The Personhood Amendment, also referred to as initiative 46, needed fewer than 4,000 additional signatures to have made it to the ballot stage. Two previous attempts, in 2008 and 2010, to put similar legislation to the public vote were successful but both times the proposals were voted down by wide margins.

Had the amendment been enacted it would have meant that all fertilised eggs, embryos and fetuses would have the same rights and legal protection as all other US citizens. This would have effectively outlawed abortion as well as having severe implications for assisted conception and research on human embryonic stem cells.

Monica McCafferty, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, a part of the No Personhood coalition, called the failure of the initiative 'great news'. She told The Colorado Independent: 'The past two years, personhood made it onto the ballot, [but not] this year. Perhaps it shows that signatures have been harder to get, that more Coloradans are deciding not only to vote against it at the polls but to not sign for it in the first place'.

But proponents of the Personhood Amendment have promised to challenge the result as they claim that many signatures were invalidated in error.

'Out of the 112,000 signatures we submitted, the secretary declared 3,700 invalid. We have carefully reviewed the signatures and we think we do have enough. We will be filing a protest of the decision in the next few days', Personhood Colorado spokesperson Jennifer Mason said.

In a statement Gualberto Garcia Jones, legal analyst for Personhood USA confirmed: 'The law states that we have 30 days to file a challenge, and we fully intend to do so'.

This year Personhood USA has already failed to put amendments to the public ballot in Oregon, Ohio, Nevada, Montana, Florida and California. When initiatives have reached that stage, no state has yet voted to adopt one.

The Colorado Independent reports that in 2010, with the Tea Party movement at its height, nearly all of Colorado's Republican candidates supported the measure. This year, however, the newspaper says that Colorado's Republican candidates 'have mostly backed away from the measure and declined to discuss it with the press'.
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