THE BLOG
10/17/2012 01:23 pm ET Updated Dec 17, 2012

Coffman and Coors: Pro-Personhood and Anti-Colorado?

A powerful new ad just went on the air for the Colorado House of Representatives race.

The ad focuses on Republican Mike Coffman, (CO-6th) but could also apply to another Colorado Republican candidate, Joe Coors (CO-7th).

The ad shows what could happen to us or our loved ones: if we were diagnosed with a disease for which there is no cure, or a disabling injury which cannot heal.

A mother imagines having Alzheimer's, and not being able to recognize her family; a young man has a car crash and becomes paralyzed for life; and a little girl has diabetes -- conditions which embryonic stem cell therapies may one day alleviate, or cure.

But, the announcer says: "Mike Coffman opposes embryonic stem cell research."

To which the little girl responds: "Who is he to decide who lives, and who dies?"

Coffman and Coors both support "personhood" -- an extreme ideology which would make embryonic stem cell research against the law.

"Personhood" would require every fertilized human egg to be treated like an individual with full legal standing in a court of law. This includes even the single cell formed after sperm touches egg.

Millions of married women routinely lose such fertilized eggs during their menstrual cycle. The egg is shed by the body, the woman discards the tampon, and thinks no more of it. Until now, such matters were her private business. Until now.

If Coors and Coffman get their way, Republican-style Big Government will claim the right to invade every woman's privacy.

Personhood is designed to end abortion at any stage, beginning at conception. It would challenge the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, and overturn forever a woman's right to choose, invalidating her reproductive freedoms.

It will have other consequences.

Consider: if a fertilized egg is the legal equal of a full-fledged human, what does that mean for childless couples wanting to grow their family by the in vitro fertilization (IVF) (IVF) procedure?

The IVF procedure has helped roughly five million babies be born to childless couples around the world.

But under personhood laws, IVF might be criminalized altogether, or regulated so severely as to become all but useless.

Consider the process: When a couple cannot conceive, they may visit an IVF clinic and be helped to make 12-15 blastocysts. One or two of these fertilized eggs (those most likely to survive) are implanted in the hopeful mother's womb. The others are frozen and stored for later use by the couple, or given to others, or discarded -- or donated to research.

For a microscopic blastocyst (when scheduled to be discarded) to instead become stem cells which might save a life or ease suffering -- is that not a life-affirming choice?

It would be illegal if personhood becomes the law.

If a blastocyst made in IVF turned out to have a terrible disease, it could be illegal NOT to implant it. And would it be legal to freeze and store the leftovers, if each one counted as a full-fledged human? Could the microscopic bits of tissue be legally flushed away, as often happens today -- or would that disposal become manslaughter?

The closer we look, the more ridiculous (and dangerous) personhood becomes.

Personhood could also criminalize various forms of birth control, including even "the pill." Why? Because hormonal birth control could by their standards be considered a form of abortion -- by making the womb inhospitable to fertilized eggs.

As the sponsor of a California personhood bill, the unsuccessful California Human Rights Amendment, Pastor Walter Hoye said: "Any birth control that ends the life of a human being will be impacted by this measure."

Asked "What about the birth control pill?", Hoye paused and said, "That falls into the same category."

More bluntly, Kristi Burton-Brown, founder of the Colorado Personhood Initiative, says: "Does the birth control pill cause abortions? In a word, yes. The birth control pill really does cause abortions... "

In short, as an article from National Public Radio puts it:

"But if Personhood USA achieves its goal, says Grossman, who also works for the reproductive rights group Ibis Reproductive Health, it could threaten the use of a long list of commonly used contraceptives, including some birth control pills and the intrauterine device.

[...]

"Their intention is to ban abortion... and some of the most commonly used forms of birth control," she said.


Colorado has firmly rejected personhood, voted on the issue twice, defeating it by 2-1 margins both times. When it was offered a third time, personhood supporters could not find enough legal signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Even what is perhaps America's most conservative state, Mississippi, recently voted to reject personhood.

Coffman and Coors can read the polls. They know they are pushing an out-of-touch extremist position. So now the two Republicans are backing away from personhood -- at least during the elections.

Should we believe that if Coffman and Coors are elected, and go to Washington, they will forget their personhood beliefs?

Are they not more likely to join forces with fellow personhood supporters like Paul Ryan in Congress, or even -- God forbid -- the White House?

With Todd Akin, Ryan co-sponsored a personhood bill, and the leopard does not change its spots.

As for Ryan's running mate, Mitt Romney has supported personhood more often than he opposed it.

In his excellent article, "Media Omission: Romney supported Personhood Four Years Ago," Jason Salzman stated:

"Instead, the most fair and accurate way for journalists to describe Romney's position on personhood is to write that he's flip-flopped on the issue over the years, first for personhood on the federal level (in 2007), then against it (in Sept. 2011), and finally maybe in favor of a state version (last month)."

Judged by his most recent opinion, we must consider Romney a friend of personhood.

Linked up with the others, Coffman and Coors could do considerable damage to medical research, women's rights, and the dreams of family for childless couples.

Fortunately, democracy provides us a remedy.

Remember in November!