The so-called Personhood Amendment, which holds that the term "person" applies to humans from their biological starting point, failed in Colorado in 2008 and 2010 -- but last week, organizers filed new language with the goal of putting the measure on the 2012 ballot. What will be different this time around? To find out, we contacted Kristi Burton Brown, the face of the 2008 amendment, who's deeply involved this time around.
Here's a Q&A with Brown, conducted via e-mail.
Westword (Michael Roberts): You were at the center of the 2008 campaign, but in 2010, you played less of a public role. You appear to be stepping back into the spotlight this year. Is that the case? And if so, why did you decide to do so?
Kristi Burton Brown: During the 2010 campaign, I got married, finished law school, passed the Bar, and had a baby. So, while I supported that campaign, you could say I was a little busy =). This year, I, together with Gualberto Garcia Jones, wrote the new language. I'm also planning to serve on the Steering Committee as a Legal Advisor. I will certainly be available to debate and talk to the media throughout the campaign. I want to be a part of the 2010 campaign because protecting innocent life is an issue close to my heart and I love speaking the truth publicly so that others can make the choice for life as well.
WW: The amendment didn't garner a great deal more support in 2010 than in 2008. Why do you think it will be more successful in 2012?
KBB: According to the numbers that have been crunched, Gualberto Garcia Jones informs me that the Personhood Amendment gained 50,000 new votes in 2010... Every time truth is put before the voters, more of them are persuaded. I would point to the issue of women's suffrage as an example. In South Dakota, women's right to vote was on the ballot seven times before they succeeded in winning equal rights for all people. Winning the equal right to life for all persons is our goal here, and I believe the people of Colorado will increasingly want to protect all people.
WW: The failure of a Personhood Amendment in Mississippi has been portrayed by progressive commentators as proof that it won't succeed anywhere. Is that a logical fallacy in your viewpoint? if so, why?
KBB: I don't personally believe that Mississippi has the corner on pro-life people. While Mississippians, along with many Southerners, are statistically the most pro-life, I think a victory on Personhood simply requires people who are willing to choose to protect every person, regardless of age, level of development, or status. That could happen anywhere in America, including in Colorado. Commentators often neglect to believe in the power of truth to change people's minds and hearts. They forget about the good hearts of all Americans who want to defend innocent life.
KBB: We believe that the 2008 and 2010 campaigns were clear in their purpose. However, no one will be able to accurately question the effect or purpose of the 2012 Personhood Amendment. We have listened to the concerns of Colorado voters. In our amendment, we have written in language that stops Planned Parenthood and company from their bald-faced lies. They're going to have to come up with a different tack. With our new language, they are forced to stop scaring women and familes by claiming they will be prosecuted for miscarriages, that all birth control and IVF will be banned, and that 20,000 laws will be affected. They're just plain wrong. However, they love to lie, so I'm sure they'll be back at it to some degree. It's just unfortunate that our tax money pays for them to tell lies and scare women and their families.
WW: Will you make an effort to broaden your message to appeal to a larger portion of the electorate? Or can the amendment pass by simply doing a better job of getting people who support it to the polls?
KBB: I think we will certainly attempt to get as many of our people to the polls as possible, and that always helps! Our message, simply put, is that, in order to promote human dignity, the intentional killing of innocent people needs to stop! I think that is a broad message that resonates with many Coloradoans. It seems that people in my generation are especially likely to agree that killing innocent people is always wrong.
Here's something I find incredibly interesting: nowhere in our amendment is the word "abortion" used. Yet many have already portrayed this as an abortion ban. What does that tell you they know abortion is? The intentional killing of innocent persons. That's the only thing we're banning in the 2012 Amendment...
As a further thought, it's interesting to me that our definition of person is not being debated at all. Our opposition, so far, hasn't contended that all human beings are persons. They got all over us for our accurate scientific claims last time. This time around, they seem to be conceding that all humans are persons. Instead, they want to argue about whether or not innocent people should be killed.
WW: Will you be using your Lost Generation blog as part of the campaign? If so, how?
KBB: Well, since I use it to discuss pro-life news and ways to get involved, I will be posting occasional updates, announcements and ways to get active in the 2012 campaign. But I'll still be covering other pro-life efforts as well.
WW: When we spoke in 2010, you had a new baby. Could you tell me a little about your family today?
KBB: My favorite thing to talk about is my family! So I'd love to answer your question, but I've decided to keep my family a private issue on this campaign. I will tell you, though, that I'm still married and I still have my baby lol =)
WW: Is there anything i might not have asked about that you feel is particularly important to add?
KBB: I'll repeat a bit of what I said above that I think is particularly important to this campaign: Nowhere in our Amendment is the word "abortion" used. Yet, many have already portrayed this as an abortion ban. What does that tell you they know abortion is? The intentional killing of innocent persons. That's the only thing we're banning in the 2012 Amendment. I'm very glad to see many have already made that huge jump and agree with us that abortion is just a fancy word for the intentional killing of innocent persons. Now if only they'd agree that this killing is wrong! I think the people of Colorado will agree one day... whether it's in 2012 or later down the road. Either way, we're committed to giving the equal right to life to all people.
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Coverage of the Personhood Amendment press conference can be found on the Free Colorado website.
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