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Panel: Personhood Goes Beyond Just Abortion

September 26, 2008

Denver, CO - They say it isn't just about abortion. That from a panel held last night in Denver on Amendment 48, the so-called "Personhood Amendment," which would define a fertilized egg as a person with legal rights.

The panel included a national advocate for pregnant women and a registered midwife, both of whom oppose the ballot measure. They say it would enable the government to intervene in pregnancies in ways that are dangerous to both the pregnant woman and the child.

Jacy Montoya with the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights is one of the panel organizers. She worries because similar legal precedents have led to a loss of rights for some pregnant women.

"We have examples of women who have been forced by a court order to be subject to a C-section against their will."

In one such case, Montoya says, both the mother and her pre-term baby died after a forced Caesarian section.

According to Montoya, the cases are well documented, but Joe Riccobono with Colorado Right to Life says he has done plenty of research and hasn't been able to turn up any such cases.

"Does it make any sense that a court would order someone in that case not to go through with natural childbirth? It just intuitively rings of nonsense."

Amendment 48 goes too far in other ways, too, Montoya says, describing the potential for other legal problems with the proposal. For instance, she is concerned it could lead to child abuse charges against a pregnant woman who can't afford pre-natal care.

"That could be perceived as 'child abuse,' because she's not getting her fertilized egg the medical treatment that is deemed necessary."

Amendment 48 opponents say if it is passed, it could affect thousands of state laws currently on the books.

Eric Mack/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - CO