Stephens, Hill, Buck All In For “Personhood” Abortion Ban

A particular detail from last night's GOP U.S. Senate primary debate worth revisiting, as the Durango Herald's Joe Hanel caught but apparently no other press coverage did:

Buck, Hill and Stephens all said they supported the personhood amendment on the 2012 ballot, which would have declared that human life begins at conception – a legal change that would lead to bans on abortion and many forms of birth control.

We also noted the answer to this question in our debate live blog.

To be clear, the question was actually in error from the moderators of the Denver Post, as the "Personhood" abortion ban ballot measure didn't actually make the 2012 ballot. In 2012, the "Personhood" initiative was disqualified by Secretary of State Scott Gessler for want of the necessary petition signatures. The last time this initiative appeared on the statewide Colorado ballot was in 2010 as Amendment 62, where it failed by just over 70% of the vote.

Neither the Denver Post, which hosted last night's debate, nor the Associated Press or the Colorado Springs Gazette mentioned that all three principal Republican primary candidates for the U.S. Senate all support the "Personhood" abortion ban. Given the pivotal role this issue has played in previous elections, and the controversy the "Personhood" initiative has generated within the Republican Party, that's astonishing to us. It may not hurt during the Republican primary to endorse a total ban on abortion, but in the general election, this is a massive liability. We'll say it again: Colorado has been a pro-choice state for years, with polling showing that trend growing every year. Recall that Ken Buck tried to flip-flop away from support for "Personhood" toward the end of his 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate, which he has now reversed again by re-endorsing it in 2014. Amy Stephens undercuts her claim to be more electable than Buck or Hill by endorsing this hugely unpopular initiative.

The last few elections in Colorado are littered with failed GOP candidates who ran aground at least in part over "Personhood"–either angering anti-abortion activists by not embracing it, or the rest of the electorate by doing so. Last night made it clear again that this albatross is still very much wrapped around the Republican Party's neck.

17 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. rathmone says:

    In fairness to Kurtis, Lynn said the error in year was her fault:

    @lynn_bartels: My fault. RT @kurtisalee: Correction from the debate. Personhood was not on 2012 ballot, it was on the ballot in 2010. #coleg #copolitics

  2. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Let's not forget that while the anti-choice crowd claims otherwise the hormonal birth control pill works by preventing ovulation so there is no opportunity for conception in the first place. That's something I learned in what was then called health class but was really sex and reproductive system education back in the 60s. Yes, back in the golden good old days of family values we were taught the facts including how contraceptives of the time work in my big city suburban school system. The class didn't include anything about morality or even mention homosexuality. It was simply to teach us the physiology of reproduction. I'd be perfectly happy with kids getting the same course now so they'd at least have the basic correct facts. 

    Among those facts would be that most of the methods the anti-choice people claim are abortifacients are no such thing. That said, abortion is legal, personhood does worse every time it's introduced here in Colorado and a candidate who runs on endorsing a personhood amendment can't win statewide. It's not because the majority of women are one issue voters. It's because they know a fanatical ignoramus when they see one. 

  3. ModeratusModeratus says:

    Being pro-life doesn't hurt Stephens. As a woman, Stephens can express her views on the issue without being condescending. It's a common liberal mistake to assume that all women are pro-abortion. Buck did a poor job relating his views, but that doesn't mean they are abhorrent to all women. By the same token, Jane Norton would have beat Bennet, and Norton is as pro-life as they come.

    • Ralphie says:

      No, shoot, we're all pro-life.  Being anti-choice is gonna hurt her, though.

      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        The  absolutely anti-choice women are already voting R. And how much did the personhood amendment fail by last time it was on the ballot?  Close to 3 to 1? 

        Anti-choice women are not monolithic. Many support abortion in the case of rape and incest or if the mother's life is at risk (and don't buy the nonsense that a woman's life is never at risk or that women have magical "legitimate" rape activated sperm repellent) and those mainly realize that giving full rights to a fertilized egg would not allow for those exceptions and would even make every miscarriage suspect. Thus the super strong repeated defeats for personhood. 

        Nobody will knock a statewide incumbent out of office running on support for personhood.  Not even if the challenger has a vagina. It didn't work nationwide for Sarah Palin. It's not going to work statewide here.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Moderatus: and your source for claiming that Jane Norton would have beat Bennet is….?

      On views on abortion, the split among women is about 47-46 pro-choice vs pro-life, depending on how those terms are defined. This is per a May 2013 Gallup poll. It's interesting that Americans all across the board think that more Americans are pro-choice than Americans really are.

      When polling is more nuanced, as in the PPP poll done pre-recall last year in Colorado, most voters, even moderates and conservatives, think that abortion is appropriate in certain circumstances, usually, rape and incest, or to save the life of the mother. Sometimes it also means, under 20 weeks is OK, which was the Biblical view, i.e., before "quickening", or independent movement of the fetus.

      See tab 1, under abortion: legal, certain, illegal. "Certain" means special circumstances.

      Stephens holds this view, last time I checked. Buck does not. Neither do the other GOP candidates for the seat.

      A liberal organization, Project New America, polled Colorado voters on reproductive health a year ago. They found that "62% of voters agree that "A woman should be allowed to have an abortion based on her personal values and her doctor's advice."

      As with most polling, it's highly subjective, depending upon how questions are framed. Most women 50 or older, who remember the bad old days pre Roe v Wade, are strongly pro-choice. Younger women who have grown up with this option sometimes are sentimentally pro-life; yet women of all ages and religious and political stripes are just as likely to have actually had an abortion, whatever their polled attitudes.

      It's not like abortion is a frivolous or elective procedure.  Regardless of what your side's propagandists claim.


      • dwyer says:


        If I may, comment on your comment:

        Biblical view, i.e., before "quickening", or independent movement of the fetus. – See more at:


        Quickening does not speak to any action on the part of the fetus.  Quickening speaks to the time when the action of the fetus can be perceived.  And I think that there are two different times when the term "quickening" had been applied…the first was when the woman first felt movement.  Noting that date was important because, prior to ultrasound and modern measurements, the date that the woman felt movement could help to give a clue as to the age of the pregnancy.  The other time of "quickening" and this probably refers to the Bibilical notion, is when an outside person, read a  priest or rabbi, could feel the movement of the fetus and thus declare it "alive."  

        This has nothing to do with the discussio at hand, I know.  It is just  one of the "chalk on the blackboard" items that makes me cringe. 

        "Quickening" suggests that the embyro/fetus is inert until some "magic time" when there is suddenly "quickening."  It was used by the church fathers to argue that this was the time when the "soul" entered the fetus.  It was also used by the church fathers to argue that the"soul" entered the male fetus earlier than the "soul" entered the female fetus."  I don't like mixing up biology and religion.  Although, mixing up religion and law and politics seems to be perfectly okay.

        • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

          But biology and religion will always be "mixed up"- how exactly does one separate a body from a soul, the brain from consciousness, humans from the biosphere?  That is, however, why we have separation of church and state – no one religion should have power to impose its beliefs on biological bodies.

          It's all imprecise, and subjective. I just mention "quickening" to note that is approximately the time when late term abortions  have been made de facto unobtainable by suppressing clinics or doctors.

          Most abortions take place around 11-12 weeks. And I highly doubt that any scientific experiment will ever definitively prove when an embryo develops consciousness or a "soul".

          Sorry about the chalkboard. Earplugs?

          • dwyer says:


            There is no such thing, biologically, as a soul.  It should not figure at all in a biological discussion. Quickening is perception of a biological fact and it should be used accurately in any discussion.  That is how one begins to "separate" myth from reality.  

            Personhood is a legal concept, not a biological one……regardless of whether one "believes" it should be bestowed at conception or at first breath, or not at all, as in the tragic case of African Americans who were enslaved.

            The only biological fact that figures in the abortion decision is "viability" and we still don't have a infallible way to determine if an individual fetus is viable or not; the best that science can do is to place that biological status as being around 24 weeks….I think that is the age.

            Bill Clinton actually used the "soul" argument in that "nobody knows exactly when the soul enters the fetus" to justify his position on abortion…..of course, Clinton was educated by Jesuits…..and that is a whole other total distraction….which is probably why he thought he had not "had relations with that woman."

            This meandering could go on all night.  I will stop.  


      • BlueCatBlueCat says:

        Please Mama, don't cooperate with the anti-choice camp's self definition as the ones who are pro-life, making the choice crowd somehow anti-life. Those of us who believe in a woman's right to autonomy over her own reproductive decisions aren't anti-life. They however are anti-choice so that's an accurate label.  Why grant them their insulting, self righteous self label? 

  4. OrangeFreeOrangeFree says:

    What any of these people said/believe no longer matters, as none of them are going to win the primary…

    Cory Gardner's getting in the race and will probably walk away with the primary win.

  5. DawnPatrol says:

    This indelible will millstone will look great, hung devastatingly around the necks of whichever of these pandering extremist bums actually ends up in the running for office.

  6. DawnPatrol says:

    Now it's time to get old Cory Boy on the record regarding this wingnut "personhood" imbecility — STAT!

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