Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... .
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Imagine this scenario. Anne, a young mother of three small children, recently noted low abdominal discomfort and bloating. She is horrified to learn that she may have ovarian cancer but even more horrified to learn that the necessary surgery cannot be performed in Colorado.
If Amendment 62 passes, it would make removing a diseased ovary illegal. Worse, a doctor who performs such a lifesaving surgery would be punished for murder.
Here is what the proposed Amendment 62 says: Person defined. As used in sections 3, 6, and 25 of Article II of the state constitution, the term person shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
Anyone who graduated from an eighth-grade health class knows that the start of the biological development is the human egg, and girls are born with all the eggs that their ovaries will ever contain. So removing an ovary even if diseased would mean the removal of thousands of persons.
A woman whose doctorate is in biochemistry and is loosely associated with Georgetown University wrote this wording. An ethicist against abortion, what she has framed is so poorly defined that the above scenario is possible. A lawyer or even a physician could have done better!
This proposed amendment is laughable. It is unclear, it is unsupportable, it is misogyninistic and it would cost the state of Colorado millions of dollars to implement. Only the lawyers would profit if it is passed.
Lets look at the problem of implementation. The word person appears in more than 20,000 laws in our state. One current legal definition of person is an autonomous being. This foolish proposed amendment would certainly change that because a fetus, embryo or egg are anything but autonomous. Passing the amendment would make major changes in the legal world and would keep Colorados lawyers employed for years trying to figure out the ramifications.
You will remember that just two years ago a similar amendment was put forward. Proposed Amendment 48 was a real loser. It lost in all Colorado counties. It lost by a huge margin 73 percent of voters were against it. Why did the Colorado Right to Life people do this again?
Apparently, they have received a message from God that this is their calling. This is clearly a case of infringement of our constitutional rights when one persons religion interferes with the ability of another person to seek medical care. The proposed amendment would establish one set of religious beliefs as the law of the state. Doesnt our Constitutions Bill of Rights prohibit this?
The supporters of this proposed amendment dont stop with facts. View their incredible misrepresentation of truth at: youtube.com/user/Personhood USA.
Many of the same people who are against abortion are also against any contraception. They claim, against the judgment of most reputable scientists, that IUDs, emergency contraception and even the pill work by causing an abortion. If this crazy amendment were passed, all of these birth-control methods might become unavailable in Colorado. Furthermore, miscarriages would have to be investigated (to be sure that the woman hadnt caused the pregnancy loss intentionally), adding to the parents emotional pain.
Oh, what about abortion? There is no provision for cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy endangers the mothers life. This proposed amendment would make interrupting a pregnancy illegal including saving the life of the mother! Even the strict Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops allows interrupting an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy because the pregnancy threatens a womans life. This would not be possible under Colorados proposed Amendment 62. Aborting a pregnancy for a woman who had been a victim of rape or of incest would also be punished as first-degree murder.
Proposed Amendment 62 is stupid. It is poorly written and therefore would tie up lawyers and the court system. If passed, 62 would endanger womens health care. It would make it difficult for couples to plan their families, and the already high undesired pregnancy rate would skyrocket.
Please vote in this midterm election. And please vote no on proposed Amendment 62. To do anything else would be irresponsible.
Richard Grossman practices obstetrics and gynecology in Durango. Reach him at email@example.com. © Richard Grossman MD, 2010