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Religion & Law

: Religion Clause

Colorado Catholic Conference Does Not Support Personhood Amendment

By Howard Friedman

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This November, Colorado voters will cast ballots on a proposed Human Life Amendment to the Colorado Constitution. (Background.) Yesterday's Denver Post reported that the state's Catholic Conference believes that Colorado For Equal Rights, the sponsor of the Amendment, has misrepresented the views of the state's Catholic bishops regarding the Amendment. In a statement issued yesterday, the Catholic Conference said: "No broad-based coalition of Catholic leaders has voiced support for Colorado?s Personhood Amendment. We commend the goal of this effort to end abortion. Individual Catholics may certainly choose to work for its passage. At the same time, we recognize that other people committed to the sanctity of life have raised serious questions about this specific amendment?s timing and content. We encourage any and all efforts to eliminate or reduce attacks on the unborn, but we do not believe that this year?s Colorado Personhood Amendment is the best means to pursue this issue at this time." An article in last December's Chicago Tribune outlines the concerns of many anti-abortion strategists about the approach of granting personhood to embryos.

The proposed amendment would define "person" for purposes of Art. II, Secs. 3, 6 and 25 of the state Constitution (inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process clauses) as "including any human being from the moment of fertilization". If passed, it would presumably create substantial hurdles to in vitro fertilization practices in which some of the fertilized eggs are not implanted, as well as to some methods of contraception. This Amendment's protection of access to the courts once eggs are fertilized apparently creates the possibility of lawsuits brought on behalf of a fetus prior to birth.

Full post as published by Religion Clause on February 29, 2008 (boomark / email).

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