Nixed ballot proposal in court

Personhood campaign challenges state

DENVER – Sponsors of the anti-abortion Personhood amendment sued the state Thursday, claiming they were unfairly denied a spot on the November ballot.

The proposed amendment to the state constitution would say legal rights begin at the point of conception. The practical effect would be to outlaw abortion and some forms of birth control.

Late last month, Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced the initiative fell about 3,900 petition signatures shy of the 86,000 it needed to qualify for the ballot.

Campaign sponsors said Thursday that a court challenge to their initiative unfairly delayed them and gave them a month less to collect signatures than the six months allowed by law.

“We’re fighting for every signature. We’re fighting for the work that’s been done. We deserve to be on the ballot,” said Susan Sutherland, Personhood Colorado’s petition campaign director.

Ballots already are being printed and will be mailed to many voters Oct. 15. The lawsuit asks the judge to place the measure on the 2012 ballot, or, if there’s not enough time, the 2014 ballot, said Gualberto Garcia Jones, the campaign’s legal adviser.

“If the judge sees fit to put us on the 2012 ballot, so be it,” Garcia Jones said.

Opponents said they don’t expect the lawsuit to succeed, but they’ll be ready either now or two years from now.

Crystal Clinkenbeard, spokeswoman for the No Personhood campaign, defended her group’s use of a lawsuit last summer that delayed the petition campaign.

“This measure is bad for Coloradans, so the coalition that opposes it is going to do everything we can at every step of the way,” Clinkenbeard said.

Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said the Personhood campaign left itself no time to fix problems with its signatures because it turned them in on the deadline day.

“We follow the laws as they’re written and provide the best equal opportunity for everyone who submits a petition,” Coolidge said.

The case was filed in Denver District Court.

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