Personhood coalition launches petition drive at Colorado Planned Parenthood clinics

The Colorado Personhood Coalition on Thursday hosted rallies outside Planned Parenthood clinics in Denver and Colorado Springs to launch the coalition’s drive to gather signatures for its anti-abortion ballot initiative.

Setting the gatherings in front of Planned Parenthood clinics was meant to underline the coalition’s recent court victory over the local chapter of the women’s health care provider. The Colorado Supreme Court this week dismissed a suit filed by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which argued that the title of the initiative the Personhood Coalition submitted to the state was too broad and would confuse voters.

“This victory at the Supreme Court is further confirmation that it is only a matter of time before the equal rights of every human being are recognized under Colorado law,” said Personhood Colorado Director Gualberto Garcia Jones. “With that in mind, we will be taking the fight directly to Planned Parenthood, putting them on notice that the days of aborting Colorado’s preborn babies are nearly over.”

Witnesses estimated that only roughly 20 people attended the rallies at each site, but the move was provocative in a way that has become typical of the intense anti-abortion movement in the United States. Members of the movement see Planned Parenthood as the seat of on-the-ground opposition to ending abortion in the country, often referring to the health care organization as the “mega provider” of the “abortion industry.”

Planned Parenthood Spokesperson Monica McCafferty called the rallies an invasion of patient privacy.

“Our health center is not a stage and our patients deserve what all patients deserve: patient privacy,” she said. “Holding a press conference in front of any health center is quite simply tasteless and disrespectful.”

The personhood initiative seeks to grant full legal rights to fertilized human eggs. It would outlaw abortion in all cases and many of the most popular forms of contraception, including the pill and IUDs. Despite arguments to the contrary, most analysts say the initiative would also put fertilization treatments and research at risk. In attempting to establish legal recognition of human life so early in the biological process, the personhood movement hopes to challenge the 1973 Roe v Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.

The Colorado Personhood Coalition must gather roughly 85,000 valid signatures to land their initiative on the November ballot. Large percentages of signatures are often thrown out as invalid for various reasons so initiative groups typically submit almost double that number.

This will be the third attempt to add a personhood amendment to the state constitution. Efforts in 2008 and 2010 lost in landslides at the ballot box.

Last year, citizens in strongly anti-abortion Mississippi voted down a similar initiative, 59 percent to 40 percent.

[ Images: Keith Mason, above, Gualberto Garcia Jones, below, by David Proper, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains ]