A boisterous heckler tangled with Colorado State Patrol officers at an anti-Amendment 48 news conference Tuesday and, as if on cue, tempers flared for a rolling video camera.
The obstreperous anti-abortion protester, identified in media reports as Morrison-resident John Wiechel, attempted to shout down Gov. Bill Ritter who was speaking on the steps of the Capitol in opposition to the proposed state constitutional amendment that would confer legal rights on fertilized eggs.
Wiechel’s first mistake was drawing the attention of troopers who entered the scene from stage left playing the classic good cop-bad cop routine. Then, apparently getting confused about whom he was there to shout about — unborn babies or homosexuals — Wiechel’s brief encounter with law enforcement went awry when the bad cop momentarily went off the deep end. Quickly composing himself, the male trooper slapped handcuffs on the loquacious protester who was escorted into the capitol followed by a ragtag band of “babies are people too!!!” sign-wielding supporters.
The incident was captured for posterity on video by an anti-abortion blogger:
According to a source on the scene, a more restrained Wiechel returned to the news conference without further incident.
Ritter, a staunch Catholic and socially conservative democrat who drew concern from reproductive rights advocates when he ran for governor in 2006, said the proposed amendment was too extreme and would create medical and legal nightmares because of its overly broad language to define a fertilized human egg as a person. Amendment 48 is widely believed to be a direct assault on Roe vs. Wade and, should it pass, would be used to challenge the 35-year law that legalizes abortion.
The governor was joined at the noisy ‘No on 48’ event by former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofsky, former Republican state Senator Dottie Wham and a bevy of medical and legal professionals.