Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has struggled to win over social-conservative primary campaign voters, but he recently took up the hard-core anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-stem cell personhood movement, which would grant full citizen rights to fertilized human eggs. It’s a move that will surely doom his chances to win a general election in Colorado, according to First District Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, head of the congressional pro-choice caucus, and state Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio.
“I was extremely concerned when I saw that Romney embraced [proposed state-constitution personhood amendments]. It’s extreme legislation and it’s deceptive. It goes far beyond anti-choice,” DeGette told reporters on a conference call. She underlined the fact that personhood initiatives would outlaw birth control pills and would place in jeopardy millions in private and public money being invested in medical stem cell research.
Coloradans have roundly voted down personhood measures twice at the ballot box in recent elections, she said.
“I think voters in Colorado reject this. Families dealing with parkinsons and diabetes and alzheimers, they’re not in favor of passing edgy bills that endanger [the search for cures].”
Palacio said the fact that the GOP presidential frontrunner has now come out in support of personhood will rightly focus more attention on the groups pushing personhood and the kind of laws they seek every year to write into state constitutions.
“Personhood places the rights of rapists above the rights of their victims,” he said, referring to the fact that personhood initiatives would outlaw abortion in all cases. There would be no exceptions for rape or incest or if the life of the mother were in danger.
“Voters have to know how dangerous these [laws] are.”
Palacio pointed out that Colorado voters during the Republican wave election of 2010 rejected the U.S. Senate candidacy of Republican Ken Buck due in part, he said, to the fact that Buck embraced personhood and admitted he would support a complete ban on abortion in all cases.
Critics of the personhood measure proposed for Colorado in 2010 argued that it would shut down large parts of the thriving biomedical research industry here. Not just stem cell research but basic fertilization research and practices would suffer. In-vitro fertilization, for example, would be outlawed. Legal analysts said the laws would force the state constitution to be altered in hundreds of instances. Pregnant women who used drugs or drank too much or otherwise endangered the fertilized eggs they were carrying could be confined. Penalties for damaging or destroying fertilized eggs would have to be written and funds allocated to cover related difficult to enforce laws.
Asked about the legal consequences of the initiative, Keith Mason, co-founder of Personhood USA, said he would “worry about the [legal] details later,” after the bill had passed.
Yet Buck wasn’t the only Republican candidate last year to support personhood. Although in 2008 most Colorado Republican candidates rejected personhood as extreme, in 2010 nearly every major Republican candidate in the state embraced the proposed amendment. Fourth District Republican Cory Gardner told Tea Party supporters that he was passing out the personhood petition at his church. Gardner won a seat in Congress and has voted for a slew of sweeping anti-abortion bills passed by the GOP-controlled Congress this year.
Beyond Colorado, the national Democratic Party is pushing hard to highlight Romney’s support for personhood, betting the vast majority of voters will shy away from electing a president who will work both to outlaw birth control pills and risk resurrecting the blackmarket abortion industry.
Democratic National Committee launched a video campaign this week and Executive Director Patrick Gaspard sent a letter to supporters going hard at Romney on the issue.
“Personhood” amendments are the notorious measures now being considered in states like Mississippi, Florida, and Ohio, that would elevate a fertilized human egg to the status of a legal person. They would ban IUDs, the morning-after pill, in-vitro fertilization, and all abortions — with no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest or in cases where the life of a woman is at stake…
“If Romney wants to take the position that abortion and birth control are equal to murder, that’s up to him, but we’ll hold him accountable for it, and not let anyone forget that he’s made the choice to go this far to the right on this issue.”