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Why No Agreement on Criminalizing Reckless Acts Against Pregnant Women?

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ABORTION
AP

You might think all sides of the abortion debate could get behind legislation making it a crime for a drunken driver to hit a pregnant woman and kill her baby-to-be, but think again.

"Personhood" activists, who've twice lost ballot initiatives in Colorado to define life as beginning at conception, opposed this proposed law, as did GOP legislators, like Sen. Scott Renfroe, who was quoted in the Denver Post as saying the bill should be called "Let us go on killing babies..." and that abortion amounts to the "Holocaust of our day."

Why didn't Personhood USA support the bill, which currently awaits Gov. Hickenlooper's signature?

"The response is very simple and direct," Personhood USA's Gualberto Garcia Jones told me via email. "Personhood could not support Planned Parenthood's bill because, under it, Brady Surovik at 8 lbs, 2 ounces would not be considered a person."

Brady Surovik was the name chosen for her baby by Heather Surovik, who was hit by a car when eight-months pregnant, resulting in the end of her pregnancy.

It's true, the proposed legislationspecifically does not "confer the status of 'person' on any human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth."

Still, why not support it anyway? Why wouldn't Garcia Jones back the legislation, giving prosecutors a stronger hand to pursue crimes against pregnant women, even if her fetus would not be considered a victim? Why not fight for legal recognition of zygotes (fertilized eggs) and other early forms of human development in other forums?

"The bill is purporting to 'create a new article for offenses against pregnant women,'" Garcia Jones responded. "Heather is up and about, she is recovering. It is Brady, her son, that is dead. How can the bill drafters claim to bring justice for the death of Brady, while reinforcing and denying that his life was worth protecting?"

"[The bill] specifically denies personhood recognition to babies like Brady," added Personhood USA Spokeswoman Jennifer Mason. "That is why Heather says she can't support it, and neither can we." (Earlier this year, they threw their support behind a competing bill, defeated by Democrats.)

So Personhood backers will push ahead with their ballot initiative, which they call the "Brady Amendment" allowing law enforcement officials to prosecute people who commit crimes against "unborn human beings."

The phrase "unborn human beings" isn't defined in the text of the initiative, leaving open the possibility that all stages of human development, from zygote through the end of pregnancy, could be considered by courts as "people" and receive legal protections under Colorado law.

That's why Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains sees the fetal homicide initiative as another attempt to codify personhood in Colorado, according to Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Monica McCafferty.