Planned Parenthood CEO rejects ‘personhood’

Vicki Cowart says voters keep saying ‘no,’ but issue keeps showing up on ballot

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, on Thursday warned that the “personhood” amendment, if passed, would define life as beginning at conception, and result in the criminalization of abortion under all circumstances, including rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life.

In 2008 and 2010, Coloradans decisively rejected the same initiative, with 73 percent and 71 percent voting against it, respectively.

“We keep saying ‘no.’ Unfortunately, ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no,’” Cowart told the editorial board of The Durango Herald on Thursday during a wide-ranging discussion on reproductive rights.

Medicine currently defines the beginning of a pregnancy as the moment a fertilized egg is implanted in the womb.

Supporters of the amendment turned in 112,000 signatures to the secretary of state Aug. 6. The secretary of state’s office has until Sept. 5 to complete its review. If the campaign has at least 85,000 valid signatures, the amendment will go on the November ballot.

Proponents of “personhood” argue ending the life of an unborn child, through abortion or other means, is morally wrong. They say the amendment includes language to protect women who have accidental miscarriages.

Cowart said the possible implications of the amendment are vast, including making birth control and in vitro fertilization illegal.

“We’re all capable of holding more than one concept in our heads. You can be personally pro-life but support Roe v. Wade because you can imagine and empathize with a complicated life situation in which somebody makes that decision,” said Cowart, referring to the Supreme Court case that declared laws banning abortion unconstitutional under the 14th amendment.

“It really puts politicians into very personal, private decision-making,” Cowart said. “Coloradans are incredibly sensitive to government intrusion.”

Recent polls by Project New America found that 30 percent of Coloradoans favor the initiative.

cmcallister@durangoherald.com

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