GOP Embraces “Personhood” (At Their Peril)

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports:

The last time the personhood amendment made the Colorado ballot in 2008, a number of anti-abortion Republican leaders either distanced themselves from it or outright opposed the idea because they said it went too far.

None of that seems to be the case with the 2010 version of the measure, political observers say.

As a result, all of the top-named GOP candidates for governor and the U.S. Senate have publicly supported the ballot question that would declare that life begins at conception. [Pols emphasis]

That’s a big contrast from 2008, when such top GOP people as then-U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer and Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams, among others, were outspoken critics of the ballot question that voters ultimately trounced by an overwhelmingly 3-1 margin.

This year’s ballot question, known as Amendment 62, is written virtually the same…

“There isn’t a big difference,” said Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of Personhood Colorado, the group that put both measures on the ballot. “It’s a technicality, but it’s not meant to mislead anyone or give us an excuse to do it again.”

According to the Sentinel, Colorado GOP chairman Dick Wadhams–who advised his candidate Bob Schaffer to oppose “personhood” in 2008–believes that the climate has changed sufficiently that supporting it in 2010 won’t hurt Republicans. 2010 will be a conservative year, so the narrative goes, and it’s more important for GOP candidates to motivate the base this time around than they risked alienating the large majorities who turned out to oppose personhood in 2008.

It’s not altogether different from the argument made about GOP candidates rushing to embrace Arizona’s new immigration law, which we also don’t think will work out for Republicans at the polls as they believe: in the case of such a clear-cut attack on choice, in this demonstrably pro-choice state, voters will turn out to vote against the “personhood” amendment–and candidates who support it will have it hung around their necks. Played well, it could be just the motivator Colorado Democrats need to get their Obama majority back to the polls.

We know some of you are quite taken with the notion that all these GOP electioneering standbys are going to work brilliantly this time, like rolling back the clock to 1994. We’re not in the same environment as 2008, true enough, but to seriously believe the electorate has transformed in two years from 71% against to anything remotely close to in favor of a radical abortion ban–meaning a situation that helps Republican candidates more than it hurts–is pure faddish delusion.

And evidence of just how little they’ve learned from their defeats: less than we thought.

53 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DaftPunk says:

    If they want to parse the meaning of “contraception” as devices that prevent conception, so as to exclude the birth control pills and devices most women rely on for a significant portion of their lives, classifying them as “abortifacients”, they’re alienating more than half the electorate.

    It will ban chemical abortifacients.

    The abortion industry, with the willing complicity of the main stream media, has redefined the term contraceptive to include poisons and devices that cause the early human being to die. These poisons are called abortifacients because they may cause early abortions. When the abortion industry says that the 2010 Personhood Amendment would outlaw contraceptives, they are either lying now, or they were lying then, for they had always told women that chemical contraceptives did not kill a living embryo. A woman should know whether a chemical would kill her child. The 2010 Personhood Amendment will end the lies.

    The rest of their claims are mostly lies too.  

    If they only wanted to ban abortion (as most people understand it), they could attempt to do so.  Personhood goes much further and is entirely too extreme.

    • shrubHugger says:

      .. But to play the Idiot’s Advocate for a second, isn’t this more of a chicken egg scenario? Maybe the reason the Personhood amendment was so overwhelmingly defeated was because of all the Dems/Indys already on their way to the election booth to vote for Obama.  Now you have a bunch of conservatives/Libertarians headed to the booth to oust Mostly Dems and incumbents so I can see why Repubs might see this as having a shot to pass. I hate to say it but I feel a lot of Dems are not as involved this cycle (we can agree that people are less inclined to vote in non-presidential elections anyways) and so this amendment may be a tighter race than we are anticipating.

      I was at PPH twice in the last month because I am participating in a BC study and those loons are out in full force.  

      • DaftPunk says:

        …A48 failed in every county and outpolled Obama by 20 points.  

        I think that’s a margin that’s resistant to the pendulum.  Conservatives/Libertarians like their BC pills too.

  2. Ralphie says:

    Are much more fun than the article.

  3. sufimarie says:

    I haven’t heard anything about them coming out in support of it.

    Indeed, they haven’t learned anything.  

  4. BlueCat says:

    Why are they only pro-life pre-birth?  if they really are the party of life than they ought to be the party of universal quality healthcare, so necessary to nurturing and sustaining life. Not to mention they also ought to be against the death penalty and wars of choice, but those are subjects for another day.

    Why do they behave as though life is sacred only until you reach the light at the end of the birth canal tunnel and then it’s your tough luck if you aren’t deemed profitable to the private insurers who make their big bucks by not providing healthcare wherever they can get away with it.

    Pro-universal, quality healthcare is the real pro-life postion. If life is a right, universal healthcare should be too. These folks may be pro-egg, pro-embryo or pro-fetus, and anti-birth control but I refuse to call them pro-life until they show equal concern for life after birth.

    I don’t think things have changed so much since last time that we really want, not only to give up any right to choose whether or not to have children, even by use of birth control rather than abortion, but also to have criminal investigations of every miscarriage.  That would be the logical consequence of personhood for fertilized eggs.  

  5. Ellie says:

    There are a substantial number of pro choice R’s or pro life with the caveat of the life of the at risk mother that may not be vocal about this amendment but will vote against it as they did in 2008.  There are a number of pro life Republican’s who don’t feel the government should have a say in what goes on between them and their God.  

    Are they in the majority?  No –  but they are out there and they vote.

    • Craig says:

      But they’re not out there now in any substantial number.  How do I know, because I used to be one of the leaders of pro-choice Republicans in Colorado.  I was a founding board member of Colorado Republicans for Choice and on the National Board for many years.  Most of my friends who feel as I do have left the party and won’t vote for Republicans, even pro-choice Republicans, any more.  God forbid that single pro-chioce Republican in the legislature be the difference in power which allows these nuts to ban abortion when Roe is overturned.  The Republican Party must die.  Then maybe some of us sane ones will come back.  Probably not in my lifetime, but I hope that I’ll see it from heaven.  Please, join the many of us who have left the “Republican Party” which is not the Republican Party we know.  Become an unaffiliate and help us destroy this “Republican Party” which we don’t recognize.

    • DaftPunk says:

      Most who oppose abortion endorse a few exceptions whether they be rape, incest, endangerment of a woman’s life, or severe fetal anomalies.  Personhood voids all the exceptions, as there are no exceptions in the law where one may justifiably end another equal person’s life if that “person” is not the one imminently threatening your life (i.e. holding a gun to your head, not occupying your uterus which would be better left empty.)

      Never mind elective abortion, there are real life pregnancy complications that doctors face in which a patient is actively dying because of her pregancy, but the fetus still has a beating heart.

      About a year ago I cared for a patient at 12 weeks into her second pregnancy, conceived via IVF after a C-section, and the placenta had eaten through her cesarean scar, and she was hemmorhaging into her abdomen.  I did an emergency hysterectomy (and techically abortion as the fetus is removed along with the uterus) and the general surgeon assisting me was shocked by the amount of blood loss, as they don’t see the kind of hemmorhage we do in OB.  Should personhood pass, I would have to be siting at this patient’s bedside, contiually transfusing her, waiting for the fetus to die before I could operate.

      Personhood needlessly places the government, courts, and lawyers into the private relationships doctors have with their patients.


      • Middle of the Road says:

        The goal is simple–they want to get it challenged in court to overrule Roe v. Wade.

        Motherfuckers. Why oh why can’t this goddamn Party find something better to do than worry about what I’m doing?

        “There isn’t a big difference,” said Gualberto Garcia Jones, director of Personhood Colorado, the group that put both measures on the ballot. “It’s a technicality, but it’s not meant to mislead anyone or give us an excuse to do it again.”

        The ultimate goal is to make abortion illegal, and the ballot means to do that by drawing what would almost certainly be a court challenge. Garcia Jones and other personhood supporters hope that inevitable lawsuit will lead to a reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that led to legalized abortions.

        • dukeco1 says:

          I sure don’t know, MOR, but your question reminds me of something I posted here a while back that bears repeating.

          A friend of mine told me his 15 year old son walked into the room one day and announced, ” Dad, I figured out the difference between Republicans and Democrats.”

          “Oh, really”, his dad replied, ” what would that be?”

          “Well”,the boy said, “Democrats don’t care how you think, but the want to tell you how to spend your money, Republicans don’t care how you spend your money, but they want to tell you how to think.”

          Pretty astute for a 15 yr. old, don’t you think?  

          • And, I don’t think it’s accurate either, at least not for the Democratic side.  Democrats don’t want to tell me how to spend my money, only that a functioning society requires some expense and (some of the time) that if you can afford it you shouldn’t freeload off of others for those services.

            • sufimarie says:

              when for many having a functioning dick is more pressing.  

            • dukeco1 says:

              The guy told it as original, and I hadn’t heard it. Do you happen to know who coined it? I googled it but there’s nothing there.

              I guess the phrase might be more accurate if it said, “how your money should be spent”. I think I interpret that as; do I abhor taxes or do I accept the burden?

              Don’t get me wrong, I am a big believer in the power of government, when focused and funded, to accomplish great things. Further, I think the Libertarian point of view is insane.

              Ultimately, it’s all about the people who are in charge and the voters who put them there. Voter manipulation by Big Money is perhaps the biggest threat we face. Whether “Politics as Entertainment” will win out over good government remains to be seen.

              Republicans, and some Democrats, are relying on their ability to buy the elections through domination of the media. They have sold out to the notion that the only way to win is to have the most money.

              Maybe they are right, but…that’s a different discussion.


            • marilou says:

              Democrats what to do everything for you because they think you are too stupid to do it for yourself.

              Republicans (unless they are acting like Democrats) like to lay the groudwork and then let you decide for yourself.

              Republicans also generally like for you to not murder whether it be the old, in-between, or young, or unborn.

              • dukeco1 says:

                With respect, marilou. That statement is patently absurd.

                This one is merely dripping with hypocrisy:

                Republicans also generally like for you to not murder whether it be the old, in-between, or young, or unborn.

                That would be all the Republicans who oppose the CIAs’ Predator Drone sniper patrols, right? The one where you can be targeted for being a suspect. The one where you and everyone near you can experience the bliss of dying from a Hellfire missle strike…because someone SUSPECTS you?

                I suppose if you are Pakistani or Afghani, you don’t fit into any of the above catagories.

              • PERA hopeful says:

                Republicans want to tell you who to sleep with, when to have a baby, what you can’t ingest because they think you are too evil to decide for yourself.

                Democrats like to let you decide those things for yourself, but believe that the government must put in place checks against human greed to protect human health and life.

                Republicans don’t care if the government, acting in our name and ostensibly on our behalf, using our tax dollars, murders innocent children, women, and men, as long as the Predator drone was aiming at somebody who might or might not be a member of Al Qaeda.  Republicans are OK with murder, they just want to pretend they aren’t.

          • Middle of the Road says:

            but I think it’s a good one and fairly accurate, too. It’s precisely why I will never, ever be a Republican and sometimes I don’t want to be a Democrat, either.  

  6. Middle of the Road says:

    Like Ciruli, Wadhams said taking such far-right stances on social issues won’t hurt Republican candidates in general elections as they may have in the past, because the electorate as a whole isn’t focused on them.

    Historically, candidates on both sides of the political aisle tended to steer clear of such hot-button issues that can pull them too far from the center. But this year, the focus is so directed on the economy, jobs and fiscal matters, such issues as abortion will almost go unnoticed, Wadhams said.

    Nice. So he’s against it when he thinks it will lose his Party votes and he backs it when he thinks it will help. This is where good Republicans lose me–how can you be in a party that uses a woman’s reproductive system as leverage to win elections?  

    • RedGreen says:

      Not so sure that’s accurate. That’s a very risky gamble they’re taking to motivate their hardest core supporters. It’s as likely to motivate fence-sitting pro-choice voters to an equal extent, and there are simply more of them.

    • Half Glass Full says:

      And what’s really funny is, if you brought this to Dick Wadhams’ attention, he’s so clueless he’d say: “What? What’s the matter?”

      The guy truly has no conscience whatsoever.

      And it’s interesting that there are so few other conservatives weighing in on this issue. What’s your take, Mohammed Ali Hasan? How about Libertad? Do you support the Personhood Amendment? And if you do, do you agree that it would result in outlawing all abortions whatsoever – even in cases of rape, incest, and to save the mother’s life?

      • marilou says:

        Mohammad Ali Hasan was for abortion, up to five months, before he signed the personhood amendment.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          Did Hasan also sign the amendment to never support another war of choice where human beings are incinerated with white phosphorous?  Is it a pro-life position to oppose killing people because a stupid dick from Texas wanted to get his jollies playing soldier?  Is that a Pro-Life position?

          Did Hasan express any Pro-Life position regarding our treatment of economic refugees from Mexico and Central America or is the Pro-Life movement focused on treating them meanly and hope they go away because of the way they were mistreated.  Is it going to be Pro-Life when Pro-Life supporters starting shooting and killing immigrants because they are will be branded as terrorists?

          I was just wondering how Pro-Life the Pro-Life supporters really are.  I’m thinking they really worship Satan and love the destruction of other human beings.  How else can you explain their love for war and destroying our planet?  I have a really hard time believing people who say they are Pro-Life.  Pro-Death seems more accurate.

          What do you think marilou?  Did you sit on the couch and cheer in shock and awe as human beings were being annihilated in Baghdad?  Is that how Pro-Life you are?

          • dwyer says:

            You are accusing people who disagree with you on the choice issue of being in favor of all kinds of heinous activities.  Not fair.

            • dukeco1 says:

              Gilpin Guy may share my increasing impatience with the hypocrisy inherent in statements like this:

              Republicans also generally like for you to not murder whether it be the old, in-between, or young, or unborn.

              It makes me angry to read this crap. If it were just the mindless babbling of a pimply-faced, basement dweller, it might not be so infuriating. This sort of mindful unwillingness to make the connection GG is addressing, cannot be defended. It is arrogance of the highest order.

            • Gilpin Guy says:

              is way out of line dwyer but all I saw from the Pro-Life crowd was wild glee at killing other human beings.

              You tell me if these aren’t the most repulsive hypocrites on the face of the planet touting their defense of life while joyfully celebrating indiscriminate killing and the drill baby drill destruction of our living planet.

              I wouldn’t have as big a problem with their obsession with the unborn if they were consistent with the rest of their positions but it has evolved into this kabuki theater where they are using the issue for political purposes and segregate it from the rest of their lives.  These people are political zombies who come for the living all the while pretending how pious and pure they are.

              If you are going to accuse me of being a murderer because I don’t think womens health care should be criminalized and our most personal decisions decided by the state than I don’t have a problem holding up a mirror and showing you how savage you are with breathing human beings and the planet.

  7. True Red says:

    Supporting this “personhood” amendment is a sucker punch for the GOP candidates.  They need the all-important Unaffiliated vote this year. Exit polls in 2008 reflected that 52% of Republicans and 78% of Unaffiliated voted against it. The “coloradans have already voted on this issue” should be their answer.  

  8. Voyageur says:

    And fertilised eggs is people.

    And sperm is people.

    and, and. and

  9. ScottP says:

    The Denver “Make Police Impound Cars” deal was a backhanded way to get illegal immigrants off our roads.

    This is, obviously, a backhanded way to make abortion illegal.

    Look, if you can’t just come right out and say what you want the law to be, it shouldn’t even be put on the ballot.

    I wish I could be amazed at the stupidity of some people, but I can’t anymore. Why do these people want to change ALL THE RULES in our state just to make abortion illegal? Just think of what would happen if this passed: If you’re 20 and 3 months, you could buy alcohol. If you’re 15 and 3 months, you could get your driver license, etc.

    Stupid people.

  10. DavidThi808 says:

    Then can a couple do in-vitro fertilization of 100 eggs, throw them in the freezer, but still get to claim them as deductions on their taxes as they are people? If so, I see just about everyone in the state doing this to zero out their income taxes.

    • Half Glass Full says:

      Ten years? If so, you could have a brand new baby who’s older than his 9-year-old brother.

      • DavidThi808 says:

        When the baby is born, it can drink alcohol.

        • Danny the Red (hair) says:

          Can you retire 10 years early?

          If you get pregnant in Canada, but are born in the US are you a Canadian?  Or vice versa.  If you are conceived in the US and born in Mexico are you a US citizen?

          • MADCO says:

            and conceive your new person while there- it would be a US citizen, right?

            If the parents storing frozen embryo at the University Hospital elect to destroy those embryos, fo they all get individual lawyers or could one lawyer represent them ?

            If a pregnant women doesn’t know she’s pregnant but gets drunk- is she guilty of providing alcohol to a minor?

            If paternity s not clearly established, can the embryo retain counsel and sue for paternity testing?

            Could counsel certify all the frozen embryos in the state as a class and sue for birth? Or better storage conditions?

  11. Half Glass Full says:

    It’s not “life begins at conception” this year. It’s “life begins at fertilization.” According to the bill’s sponsors, it’s a HUGE difference. Unless it’s not.

  12. Aaron says:

    Forcing a victim to carry her rapist’s baby for nine months is sound public policy. That’ll teach her for dressing provocatively.


    Do Republicans really hate government so much, they’ve just given up on being elected to public office? I can’t find any other reasonable explanation.

  13. dwyer says:

    It doesn’t.  That is why repubs can support it.

    The repubs are hell bent on replicating 1994.  In that year, they ran on a pro-live slogan.  I figure Wadhams thinks he can throw everything into the mix..  They won big in “94.

    The repubs have been screaming anti-choice slogans, collecting money on the issue, and, if you believe some analysts…and I do …..won Ohio in 2004 because of the issue….

    What I believe is that the only reason the repubs promote anti-choice slogans is that the public thinks it will not make any difference in the law.  No republican has EVER voted to outlaw abortion (maybe a senate vote in the early 80s)….they take token positions on the side issues and hope to hell that the courts will block the legislation.

    As for the court case, that would be interesting because the real issue would be states rights which is a winning issue for the repubs.  If the amendment passes, and the

    amendment went to the Supreme Court, it is possible that this conservative court could use it to overturn Roe. Couple that with a Supreme Court decision in favor of all the states’ attorney generals suing over health care, and suddenly we have a whole different country. ….with states’rights trumping individual rights as protected and defined by the federal government.  It could happen….but I think the repubs are betting it never will.

  14. milehighpolitico says:

    The GJ Sentinel was wrong. Jane Norton doesn’t support the personhood amendment–it has the unintended consequence of outlawing in vitro fertilization. Many Republicans actually oppose it as its currently written. Even the very pro-life Eagle Forum opposes it.

    Get your facts right.

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