THE BLOG
10/08/2014 05:45 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2014

Pregnant Women Beware

Opponents of Colorado's latest Personhood initiative, Amendment 67, claim in media reports that their measure isn't about banning abortion.

Multiple reporters have pushed back, pointing out that the Personhood USA-backed initiative is actually another iteration of failed personhood amendments, aimed at outlawing all abortion and common forms of birth control.

But local reporting hasn't explained in sufficient detail that this year's amendment is unique not only in Colorado but nationally in subjecting pregnant women to harassment and prosecution from law enforcement officials.

Under Amendment 67, pregnant women could face arrest for everything from choosing abortion to driving without wearing a seat belt, as explained to me by Lynn Paltrow, director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who was in Colorado last month to campaign against Amendment 67.

Paltrow presented a series of slides during a presentation with the text of common criminal statutes in Colorado: murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment.

She replaced the words "person" or "child" with "unborn human being."

For example, you commit murder in Colorado if you intend "to cause the death of another person." If "person" becomes "unborn child," then abortion becomes murder, Paltrow said.

Paltrow showed a slide of Colorado's child abuse statute, inserted "unborn human being" into the statute's wording, and explained how the law, as changed under Amendment 67, could be used to investigate, prosecute, and arrest a pregnant women believed to have put her "unborn child" at risk.

"What they are asking the citizens of Colorado to do is put in place a set of laws that begins by saying, 'We believe a woman who has an abortion is guilty of first degree murder and deserves either life in prison or the death penalty.' There are no exceptions."

"Anything that a woman does that someone later believes she shouldn't have done becomes evidence of recklessness," she continued. "Standing on a ladder. Painting your nursery at six-months pregnant and falling off. Skiing while pregnant. Driving without wearing a seat belt. Not obeying a doctor's advice to get bed rest. Child abuse becomes fertilized-egg abuse."

Paltrow, who goes into more detail about Amendment 67 here, says she sympathizes with Heather Surovic, a proponent of the measure, who was eight months pregnant when a drunk driver slammed into her car. She lost her unborn child, which she'd named "Brady."

"The irony is, if this amendment in Brady's memory succeeded, what Brady's memory would really be doing is creating a law that could have had his mother arrested even if she'd done absolutely nothing wrong or reckless," Paltrow said, citing a New York case in which a pregnant woman was convicted of manslaughter of her own child after being in a car accident. "What the Brady Amendment would do is make mothers absolutely vulnerable to arrest themselves."