Colorado Rights Blog

ACLU of Colorado By: ACLU of Colorado 9.22.2014

Denver Post editorial: “Should Colorado voters approve “personhood” ballot measure (Amendment 67)? No”

This editorial by our Executive Director appeared in Sunday’s Denver Post

Colorado’s anti-abortion extremists have a clear goal: They want to ban all abortions in all circumstances, even in cases of rape, incest, or when a woman’s life is in danger.

Twice, in 2008 and 2010, they gathered enough signatures for Colorado ballot initiatives that would have defined a fetus, or even a fertilized egg, as a legal person, subjecting women and their doctors to criminal liability and banning all abortion. The attempted 2010 amendment, in fact, was very explicit with regard to forcing women who are raped to bear the children of their rapists.

When Colorado voters rejected this extreme agenda both times by wide margins, fetal-personhood proponents rethought their strategy. This time around, they have focused their pitch to voters on the genuinely tragic case of a woman whose pregnancy was ended by a drunken driver days before she was due to give birth. Because she had not yet given birth, the accident could not be treated as a homicide.

That was in 2012. The Colorado legislature responded thoughtfully, and has since passed laws that provide strong criminal and civil penalties for unlawful termination of a pregnancy through criminal or negligent acts, including drunken driving.

You might think Personhood USA and the proponents of Amendment 67 supported that legislation, but they did not. They opposed it because it protected pregnant women without doing what they really wanted, which was to define a fetus as a legal person and ban all abortion in the process.

Under Amendment 67, every place that the word “person” or “child” occurs anywhere in the Colorado Criminal Code, it “must” be interpreted to include “unborn human beings.” The phrase “unborn human beings” has no established legal or medical definition, so it would apply without limitation to all stages of pregnancy, all the way back to a fertilized egg.

With this alteration to the criminal code, women and their doctors could be jailed for participating in an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, and women who suffer a miscarriage could very well be investigated to determine if they were culpable and criminally liable for manslaughter.

The cascade of potential consequences from defining a fetus, zygote, fertilized egg or frozen embryo as a legal person is mindboggling. It would allow the government and courts to violate the sanctity of doctor/patient privacy and allow government access to women’s private medical records. It would prevent couples who want to have children from having them through in-vitro fertilization. It would ban many forms of contraception, resulting in more unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions. It would prevent women from receiving treatments for cancer or other diseases that might affect a known or possible pregnancy.

Family planning and privacy rights and are crucial to the dignity and freedom of women and their families. Neither the government nor religious crusaders should be allowed to intervene and take control of difficult, personal decisions best left to a woman and her doctor. Amendment 67 goes far beyond what it appears to be at first glance, threatening basic rights and opening a legal Pandora’s box that would be very hard to close, because it would be written into the Colorado Constitution.

Learn more about Amendment 67 here.



  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people.