In this week's Westword, Adam Cayton-Holland introduces you to Kristi Burton, the young activist behind Amendment 48, otherwise known as the Personhood Amendment, otherwise known as a 22-year-old's play to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Check out his story, and click "more" to read Burton's pitch -- sent as an editorial to papers across the state. Give her credit: She's got cojones.
Amendment 48 empowers Colorado voters
Amendment 48, the Personhood Amendment, is about empowering you, the voter. It’s about allowing the democratic process to make decisions that have been made by special interest groups for the last forty years while using your taxes for their own gain. It’s about catching our laws up to our science. It’s about restoring the intrinsic value of every human being, no matter what stage of development.
The Personhood Amendment doesn’t change the constitution in any way, as its opponents claim; it merely clarifies the definition of ‘person’ or ‘persons’ as beginning at fertilization. This clarification is necessary because when the original constitution was written the biological information we now have available didn’t exist. This left an ambiguity that has been seized by special interests for their own purposes. The same special interests tried to keep Amendment 48 off the ballot. They claim they want ‘choice,' but they don’t want to allow Colorado voters to decide this issue.
The Personhood Amendment isn’t an attack on women’s healthcare, as the scare tactics of its opponents would have you believe. Mothers also possess personhood and the amendment in no way endangers their well-being. It merely provides a common sense foundation for making future decisions. By acknowledging what we already know to be fact, we will protect lives that are in danger of being lost.
Unless our laws are built on honest premises and sound science, we continue down a dangerous slippery slope in which confusion reigns. In the last few decades, the personhood of the unborn has been confiscated. The door is opening for taking away the lives and dignity of the elderly, sick and disabled unless we act now.
On September 8, I debated opponents of Amendment 48 on a Colorado Decides segment on KBDI television. Fofi Mendez, who represented the “No on 48 campaign,” was asked by the moderator when life begins. She answered, “Individually we can all determine when life begins.” In other words, each person decides. For Fofi, ‘life’ includes being able to breathe and walk. This leaves out newborn babies and anyone in a wheelchair or on a respirator. Her response is simply a further expression of the confused, stale, outdated abortion politics that have dominated the last few decades. People, especially those of my generation, are tired of that. We need to value every person because every person counts, no matter what stage of life.
Ms. Mendez kept alluding to the consequences of Amendment 48 as “disconcerting.” People my age realize a third of our generation isn’t here because of abortion on demand. That’s disconcerting. Requiring legislators to take into account the personhood of every individual when making laws is not disconcerting. It’s long overdue.
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SHOW ME HOW
In an obvious attempt to make their side appear more legitimate, Mendez continually pointed out that 75 ‘health care’ organizations oppose Amendment 48. No doubt, Planned Parenthood is included since they are a large contributor. At last count, over 80 organizations and medical professionals support personhood.
The words we choose matter. Mendez continually referred to newly formed persons as ‘fertilized eggs.' This is familiar strategy. There’s a reason why abortion proponents use the term ‘pro-choice.' It shifts the debate away from the ugly reality of abortion. The repeated use of the term ‘fertilized egg’ robs the developing human of personhood, just as the word ‘fetus’ dehumanizes a developing baby.
It shouldn’t matter if you vote Republican or Democrat or if you are Christian or atheist, we all have a responsibility to protect innocent life. Colorado voters have an unprecedented opportunity to do exactly that by acknowledging what we know to be true. Vote yes on 48.
Kristi Burton Kristi Burton is the sponsor and spokesperson for the Personhood Amendment. She is 21 years old and a third year law student. She initiated Amendment 48 at the age of 19. She is the co-founder of Colorado for Equal Rights. The Amendment 48 petition drive set a record by collecting over 130,000 signatures.