Planned Parenthood is closing a pair of clinics in Colorado, explaining it is short of money because of the millions of dollars it had to spend to convince voters not to approve so-called “personhood” amendments.
Pro-life groups twice have tried to pass amendments to the Colorado state constitution declaring the unborn child to be a human being. They’ve were beaten back each time by the 10-1 spending of abortion supporters.
Victory has its price, however, for Planned Parenthood.
Monica McCafferty, a spokeswoman with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, recently told the Colorado Springs Independent that as a result of expenditures from fighting the personhood campaigns, mostly in September, the organization was forced to close a pair of abortion businesses in La Junta and eastern Colorado Springs.
The goal of the personhood movement is to pass constitutional amendments at both the state and federal level that declare an unborn child to be a human being, which would qualify it for protection under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand, admitted that if a fetus was ever determined to be a human being, the landmark case would collapse.
“If this suggestion of personhood is established,” Blackmun wrote. “[Jane Roe's] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the amendment.”
Colorado-based Personhood USA, which helps states get personhood measures on their ballots through the initiative process, has successfully brought the issue to voters twice in Colorado. Last year, the amendment failed to garner the signatures necessary to get on the ballot.
While no state has yet passed a personhood bill, the movement has learned from its mistakes and continues to refine its methods.
In 2008, the first time personhood appeared on a ballot, the measure defined a person as “any human being from the moment of fertilization.”
However, some pro-life groups opposed the bill, arguing the language would not apply to babies conceived through in vitro fertilization. The language was changed in 2010 to say “every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.”
While the initiative was defeated the first two times it appeared on the ballot, it has lost by smaller margins each time, showing the movement is gaining traction.
In 2010, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates spent vast sums to defeat a personhood measure in Mississippi. Financial statements show Mississippians for Healthy Families received significant amounts of money from Planned Parenthood affiliates in other states.
For instance, Planned Parenthood Action Fund in New York contributed $209,000, while Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York donated $524,000 to defeat the personhood amendment.
Planned Parenthood affiliates in Georgia, Wisconsin, North Carolina, California, Illinois, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, Florida, Utah, Pennsylvania and Texas also contributed to defeating the initiative.
When Planned Parenthood fought against the 2010 initiative in Colorado, the group spent millions of dollars telling voters that the amendment would outlaw all forms of birth control and cause women who suffered miscarriages to be prosecuted for murder, despite the bill’s language saying no such thing.
In 2012, when Personhood USA was attempting to place the issue on the ballot again, supporters responded to the critics. The measure plainly stating that “only birth control that kills a person shall be affected by this section” and “medical treatment for life-threatening physical conditions intended to preserve life shall not be affected by this section.” It also stated “spontaneous miscarriages shall not be affected by this section.”
However, while the changes were made to answer critics, Planned Parenthood then claimed the language was unclear.
Though the personhood amendment did not make it onto the ballot last year, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains criticized the attempt to bring it to voters.
“Colorado voters have clearly spoken on this issue. While it’d be ideal for Personhood Colorado to respect the wishes of Colorado voters and leave our state constitution alone, Planned Parenthood is prepared to defeat this initiative for a third time,” PPRM CEO and President Vicki Cowart said at the time.
It is now apparent why PPRM does not want to face the issue again.
McCafferty told the Independent that PPRM spent about $3 million to defeat the previous measures, and while donations are up, the cost of fighting the constant barrage of personhood measures is taking its toll on the organization and is one of the reasons it is closing the two clinics.
In what is certainly unwelcome news for PPRM, pro-lifers are going back again to the battlefield with another amendment that they believe has a winning appeal this time around.
Whenever pro-life legislation comes up for a vote, pro-abortion supporters frequently present women who have been raped or are the victims of incest to argue against the bills. However, this time the pro-life movement is taking a page from the pro-abortion playbook in an attempt to get the amendment passed.
The initiative, called the Brady Amendment, came about because of a loophole in Colorado law that allowed a drunk driver to kill Brady Surovik, a full-term baby. The driver did not face any consequences for Brady’s death because the law does not recognize Brady, who was just days away from birth, as a person.
To ensure that other children would not suffer the same fate as Brady, his mother vowed to have the law changed.
“I realize my son will never see justice for his murder, but I intend to see that other children will be protected under the law,” Heather Surovik told WND. “I want to look lawmakers who oppose personhood in the eye and ask them why they think my son, who was perfectly viable, did not deserve to be protected and why they believe his killer should go free.”
To tell her story, she helped produce a video that can be seen at avoiceforbrady.com:
This time, the amendment is somewhat more narrowly crafted and asks voters to pass a fetal homicide law. The measure asks: "Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution protecting pregnant women and unborn children by defining 'person' and 'child' in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings?"
Realizing the powerful message conveyed by Heather and Brady, Democrats passed a bill in the recent legislative session which they claim resolves Surovik's issue.
The bill, HB 1154, creates new criminal offenses for crimes against pregnant women by saying that a person who terminates a pregnancy against the will of the mother is guilty of a Class 6 felony and is subject to a $2,000 fine.
Planned Parenthood approved the bill because it specified that the unborn child was nothing more than an inanimate object on a par with any other property that is destroyed by a criminal.
The bill states its rationale has nothing to do with the child but is the result of lawmakers "recognizing the woman as the victim of criminal conduct."
To remove all doubt that the bill has nothing to do with the unborn child, it further states that "nothing in this act shall be construed to confer personhood, or any rights associated with that status, on a human being at any time prior to live birth."
Cathy Alderman of Planned Parenthood told Denver's KDVR-TV that the organization praised the bill because it would ensure the unborn child did not have any rights.
"HB 1154 is a thoughtful and fair approach to a complex area of law that addresses crimes against pregnant women without restricting or infringing upon reproductive health care," Alderman said.
Democrats shot down another bill, HB 1032, that would have allowed prosecutors to collect evidence and file a murder charges for killing an unborn child like Brady.
Heather said it was offensive of Democrats to say her son's life was worth so little.
"This bill does absolutely nothing to ensure justice for other babies like Brady and would not have helped in my situation where my son was killed," Surovik told WND. "My son's life was worth infinitely more than $2,000. When I tried to change our state laws to protect babies like Brady in January, abortion advocates and their allies at the Capitol testified that I had merely 'lost a pregnancy.' The Brady Amendment calls for fetal homicide laws to be applied to unborn victims of violence in Colorado."
McCafferty complained that the personhood supporters keep bringing the issue before voters not because of their pro-life beliefs but as "a tactic … to just drain our resources."
Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, dismissed Planned Parenthood's claim, though she acknowledged her movement won't lose any sleep over the closing of the two clinics.
"Of course we are very pleased to see Planned Parenthood chemical abortion facilities close down," Mason affirmed. "They profit on the killing of innocent children by preying on vulnerable women. Then they use their ill-gotten gains to fight legislation to protect women and children, and it’s time for them to close their doors for good."
Planned Parenthood on a national scale, meanwhile, collects in excess of $450 million a year from taxpayers.