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Colo., Ohio Approve Language for 'Personhood' Measures

Colo., Ohio Approve Language for 'Personhood' Measures

January 5, 2012 — Abortion-rights opponents in Colorado and Ohio are moving forward with plans to collect signatures for "personhood" ballot initiatives after securing approval for their petitions' wording. Summaries appear below.

Colo. Review Board Revises, Approves Language for Ballot

A Colorado review board on Wednesday rewrote language and granted approval for a proposed personhood ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to guarantee protections for "all human beings at any stage of development," the Denver Post reports. The amendment's supporters must gather signatures from more than 80,000 registered voters to place the initiative on the 2012 ballot.

The review board eliminated the phrase "right to life" from the proposal and reordered several parts. The approved language states that the measure concerns the extension of constitutional rights at all stages of development. It adds that protections of life "apply equally to all innocent persons" and that the amendment would affect only "methods of birth control or assisted reproduction that kill an innocent person." The approved language also states that the measure would not ban some forms of contraception, in vitro fertilization and treatment in life-threatening situations. The measure would not apply to cases of spontaneous miscarriage, but it would specifically ban abortion in cases of rape or incest.

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was disappointed that the board approved the measure against the group's objections that it addresses disparate subjects that would mislead and confuse voters. A coalition called Protect Families Protect Choices has pledged to challenge the measure in the state Supreme Court, PPRM President and CEO Vicki Cowart said (Draper, Denver Post, 1/5).

Ohio AG Approves 'Personhood' Ballot Language

On Wednesday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) approved language for a proposed personhood ballot initiative in the state, saying the wording is "fair and truthful," the Columbus Dispatch reports.

DeWine in October rejected the initial language after abortion-rights supporters said it could prohibit emergency contraception, other forms of birth control and infertility treatments. They also criticized the lack of an exemption for abortions in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman's life.

Ballot proponents said they addressed those concerns by adding language clarifying that the measure would not restrict "genuine" contraception, IVF or other infertility treatments. However, critics say the term "genuine" is confusing and makes it unclear whether hormonal birth control pills and intrauterine devices would be banned.

The amendment's supporters need to collect signatures of more than 385,000 registered voter to get the measure on the November ballot (Eggert, Columbus Dispatch, 12/31/11).