Personhood goes to Washington

Kristi Burton, the tireless force behind Colorado’s Amendment 48, was the toast of the nation’s antiabortion elite at the American Life League annual conference Friday. So much so that they even swiped the ballot measure’s “personhood” moniker as the confab’s title.

RH Reality Check’s correspondent Kay Steiger attended the conference — timed to coincide with Barack Obama’s inauguration — and caught up with Burton about the “egg as a person” legal movement at the aptly named Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington, D.C.

That, of course, came after listening to former ambassador and perennial paleoconservative political candidate Alan Keyes bloviate for 57 minutes on biblical themes with little mention of the anti-abortion movement.

Since the ballot measure’s crushing 3-to-1 loss in November, Burton appears to have taken those hard-fought lessons to heart for her next expected go-around with voters.

She urged the pro-life movement to begin to hire political consultants, analyze polling data, and raise more money. This, she admits, comes from her active work with the Republican Party. She noted that the personhood movement often doesn’t get support from mainstream Republicans, pointing to the Republican Senate candidate in Colorado, Bob Schaffer, who came out against the personhood amendment despite identifying as pro-life. “Politicians and pro-lifers don’t really get along that well,” Burton said.

Most of all, she noted, the movement needs to unify. “Do you ever see NARAL, Planned Parenthood or NOW fighting against each other? No, because they have one goal and they don’t really care about anything but their goal,” Burton said.

But then things get muddy, as they did during the campaign season, about just what legal rights for fertilized eggs would mean.

Burton wants conservative activists to adopt the personhood campaign’s framework in their legislative efforts to prohibit stem cell research, eliminate emergency contraception, promote informed consent, and criminalize “fetal homicide.” But she steadfastly denies that Amendment 48 would have expressly affected such issues.

“The personhood amendment was a definition,” explained Burton, who is enrolled in a non-accredited Bible-based online law school. “What it said was that in the future, when our courts and our legislators are considering laws relating to those kind of things — I mean in Colorado there isn’t even a law on birth control, so how a definition can affect a law that doesn’t exist, I’m not sure.”

Except there are state laws on contraception among other reproductive health services.

Maybe it’s time to hit the law books again.

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Wendy Norris

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