For the fourth time, Personhood Colorado is trying to get a constitutional amendment to ban abortion in the state, only this time they are linking the effort to a tragic drunk driving case that killed an unborn child.
Called "The Brady Amendment," the measure would change the words "person" and "child" in the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act to include "unborn human beings." It differs from a bill that passed in the state legislature earlier this year, known as the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act or HB-1154, in that it would establish fetal personhood and would apply to victims of rape and incest, effectively banning abortion in the state.
The amendment is named after 27-year-old Heather Surovik's unborn son Brady, who was killed in a car accident last year when the car was hit by a serial drunk driver named Gary Sheats, 52. Surovik -- whose baby was due within just days of the accident -- was driving home from her last well-baby checkup when Sheats slammed into the car, deploying the airbag and killing the fetus. Sheats even fled the scene, but was caught anyway shortly afterward.
Supporters of the amendment have turned in over 140,000 signatures -- nearly double the required 86,105 that are needed -- this week, in an attempt to get the measure onto the ballot despite Colorado having just passed a Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, a law that allows prosecutors to punish criminals who harm an unborn child during a crime in response to Surovik's case.
Surovik's family was angered that prosecutors couldn't charge Sheats with homicide under Colorado law at the time, which had not yet enacted the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act.
The tragedy was only compounded by the fact that it was Sheats' fifth DUI charge. Sheats pleaded guilty to two counts of felony vehicular assault and driving under the influence and was facing up to 20 years in prison, but he was found dead in a motel just a month before he was supposed to be sentenced.
"This is so pregnant victims of violent crimes will have justice for themselves and their (unborn) babies. It recognizes there are two victims," said Personhood Colorado/USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason.
Though HB-1154 was sponsored by a Democrat as a direct result of Surovik's case, Surovik herself did not support the bill.
The Colorado Right to Life website explains:
The abortion industry's so-called fetal homicide bill was designed to protect not children but those who charge money to kill unborn children. Planned Parenthood's bill further undermines the child's safety by stating 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..." This is an insult to Brady, to every child, and to God in whose image they are made.
“It’s crimes against pregnant women. The woman carrying the child is the victim. Before it was called fetal homicide, which could possibly lead to the implementation of Personhood," state Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, told KDVR last February.
"It addresses a gap that’s in the criminal code now while preserving a woman’s right to choose, her reproductive freedoms," Foote said.
Personhood Colorado failed to come up with needed amount of valid signatures for their anti-abortion Initiative 46, last year. Similar measures failed in both 2008 and 2010.