A new ballot measure campaign in Colorado seeks to legally define eggs, not just embryos, as people. The measure (see PDF) seeks to amend the state constitution so that “the term ‘person’ shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being,” According to the Colorado Independent, this would “move the legal definition of a person further back into the reproductive cycle, granting cells the full spectrum of citizen rights.”
The proposed measure goes further than Amendment 48, which was defeated in the 2008 elections by 73 to 27 percent and was a personhood initiative that declared a fertilized egg to be a person who enjoys all constitutional rights “relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law”.
If the initiative passes, it would not only put a woman’s right to an abortion in danger but also threaten oral and emergency contraception, IUDs, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. Biology professor Dr. Johnathan Van Blerkom, of the University of Colorado in Boulder, told the Colorado Independent that “to begin with [embryonic] stem cell research would stop. There would be no research in genetics in the causes of the origins congenital diseases that occur in humans, how to fix them, how to protect them early.” Van Blerkom also expressed concern about liability. He said, “it’s criminal liability. So would any program want to freeze an embryo in the state of Colorado? If the embryos die, as they frequently do when they are thawed, is that your responsibility? Is it an act of God? An act of science?”
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed a bill (see PDF) in April that legally defines ‘contraceptive’ and ‘contraception’ as “a medically acceptable drug, device, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy.” The bill was intended to prevent future legal challenges similar to the Amendment 48 campaign in the 2008 election cycle. The current ballot initiative’s language was approved in August by Colorado’s state title board.