Supporters Of Colo. 'Personhood' Amendment File Lawsuit Against State
24 Sept. 2010
On Tuesday, supporters of a Colorado ballot initiative that would grant rights to fertilized eggs filed a lawsuit against the state for what they allege is a "biased" analysis of their initiative, the Denver Daily News reports. The analysis in question is published in the state Legislative Council's Blue Book, which provides voters with analyses of ballot initiatives before elections (Marcus, Denver Daily News, 9/22).
The ballot initiative, called Amendment 62, would change the state constitution to say that rights of citizens are granted from the "beginning of biological development." Groups opposed to the measure say the change would ban abortion services, as well as some forms of birth control and fertility treatments (AP/CBS4, 9/21).
In its suit, Personhood Colorado said the Blue Book's language regarding Amendment 62 is not "fair or impartial but in fact glaringly biased against" the measure. The group said that none of the more than 70 pages of notes it submitted to the council was used in the analysis and that the final language was never sent to the group before the book was published and mailed to voters.
The suit also claims there are "several falsehoods" in the Blue Book about the initiative, including the definition of the word "person" as the "beginning of biological development." The Blue Book states that the "beginning of the biological development" is a term that is "not defined within the measure, has no established legal meaning, and is not an accepted medical or scientific term." Personhood Colorado argues in the suit that the statement is "erroneous and misleading," adding that supporters of the amendment provided peer-reviewed medical and bioethics journals and medical textbooks that use the phrase "beginning of biological development." In addition, the suit contends that the Blue Book falsely states that under the amendment, women would be denied health care for certain emergency procedures -- such as miscarriages -- and that nurses and doctors could be subject to legal action.
According to the News, Personhood Colorado is "facing an uphill battle" by challenging the language in the Blue Book. Similar suits have failed in the past, and courts have never required changes in the Blue Book's language in recent history. The Legislative Council said it would not comment because it has not reviewed the suit. The council noted that there is an extensive public process in creating the content of the Blue Book and advocates of Amendment 62 participated in that process (Denver Daily News, 9/22).