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Is Personhood A Genuine Human Rights Movement Or A Shameless Anti-Abortion Front?

Amendment 67 is one of the many issues voters in Colorado will vote on in November. It involves the notion of turning unborn children into legal persons, with full human rights.

Although the concept sounds reasonable, it’s not as clearcut as it sounds. Let’s see why.

The initiative behind Amendment 67 is known as Personhood. Personhood seems to make a lot of sense at first glance, especially when taking into consideration the story of Heather Surovik, who suffered a car crash in 2012, in which she lost her unborn baby during her eighth month of pregnancy. Despite the tragic outcome, the driver responsible for the crash wasn’t prosecuted for the death of the fetus. He was fined a mere $2,000.

Personhood USA — the group behind Personhood — wants to rectify this tragedy and all others like it by granting unborn children and their parents rights, thereby protecting them from harm such as the above, or affording them justice should harm come to them.

Personhood has attracted a great deal of resistance, most of it justified

Reasonable as it sounds, Personhood has attracted a great deal of resistance, most of it justified. Scores of women are worried that it’s nothing more than a front for religious ideologs, who are itching to enforce their ‘pro-life’ views on others.

Specifically, according to critics, Amendment 67 would make all unborn children legal persons, including embryos and zygotes, meaning that abortions would be classified as wrongful deaths. The right of a woman to control her own body would be challenged, as would any woman’s right to have an abortion in cases of rape or disease. All miscarriages and stillbirths would in theory be suspect and, thus, prone to investigation by the authorities.

While it’s hard to make a case for or against Amendment 67 without seeing the nitty gritty of this law, let’s put Personhood and its frontispiece, the campaign’s home page, under the analytical microscope.

First, consider the name of the campaign: Personhood. Isn’t it a great, easy-to-pronounce term? Personhood! Who in their right mind would vote against it?

Moving on, there’s a picture of a cute baby framed in a heart, urging voters to vote ‘Yes to Personhood.’ Your heart melts on the spot. The same picture is used a little further down in another image that promotes Brady’s (Surovik’s deceased unborn
child) rights, acting as a voice for Brady, while a third image depicts the same cute baby with a little price tag hanging on the side of the picture, quoting $2,000: the damages the drunk driver was sentenced to after the crash.

All in all, it’s compelling stuff from a compelling case, yet — unfortunately there’s a yet — one can’t help feel uneasy and creeped out by it.

The reason is in the details. The slips and missteps mentioned above are enough to set off alarm bells, but in case you missed them, or aren’t convinced by them, there’s a big red flag waving around, disguised as a great cause, screaming bloody more than meets the eye.
Take the following statement from the opening paragraph:

Heather Surovik started this Amendment initiative to honor the memory of her son, who like so many unborn babies had his life cut short by a violent criminal.

The emphasis is mine, and I added it to highlight the hook in the term ‘violent criminal,’ at least in the way it’s being used. It’s misleading and manipulative. Surovik was struck in her car by a drunk driver, resulting in the loss of her unborn child, yet, even though the act was a crime (aggravated DUI) and the outcome a violent one (material damage, personal injury and a miscarriage/death), the driver wasn’t as sinister a criminal as the text suggests. Even though he was a repeat DUI offender, the innuendo reaches and overreaches, coloring the event up, painting a malevolent picture, alluding to the motives of the person, not the violence of the act, which are often two different things.

Let me put it another way. It’s easy for a reader to read the sentence and identify with Surovik and join the cause, seeking to stop violent criminals all over the country from killing unborn children, even though that’s not what’s happening around the country … unless you deem abortion a crime. If you do, then yes, you roll up your sleeves and wage a campaign against the wave of ‘violent criminals’ killing unborn children. Only then can you jump from the case of a mother-to-be who was treated poorly because of a hole in the judicial system to a state-wide campaign that seeks to protect life from unaccountable killers roaming the land and getting away with it.

…the emotional hook that the campaign uses to set its foundation is the tell-tale sign that there’s more than meets the eye here

In other words, the emotional hook that the campaign uses to set its foundation is the tell-tale sign that there’s more than meets the eye here.

Like I said, without reading the nitty-gritty of the proposed amendment it’s difficult to gage whether the movement is indeed a genuine attempt to protect unborn children from tragedies like the above, or whether it’s intended as the foot in the door for anti-abortion, anti-contraceptive legislation and jurisprudence.

I hope Colorado voters read the amendment before they vote on it, and if it turns out to be every bit as sly and disingenuous as it’s supposed to be, I hope they reject it outright.

I also hope they make sure that cases like Surovik’s are not left unattended. The law needs to find a way to fix the system and tend to Surovik’s grievances with the appropriate conviction.

Until then,

Eyes open, mind sharp.