January 22, 2008
Today marks the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. It is a legal cornerstone upon which the right to choose and women’s reproductive rights rest. One of today’s challenges to Roe is Colorado’s “Definition of Person” ballot initiative, approved by the Colorado Supreme Court in a 7-0 decision last November. The initiative aims to amend the state’s constitution to define a fertilized egg as a person.* If adopted in this November’s election, the amendment would grant the state constitutional protections of inalienable rights, justice, and due process to microscopic fertilized eggs.
This isn’t the first ballot initiative that has sought to chip away at Roe. South Dakota passed an outright ban on abortion, but it was repealed in a 2006 ballot initiative.* The measure didn’t pass, in part because the measure as written didn’t include exceptions for rape or incest. An eerily similar ban was proposed in Georgia early last year. Louisiana enacted a law giving rights to embryos back in 1986. Today there are many state-level initiatives that seek to give rights to human embryos. The measure that could appear on the ballot in Colorado this November is more evidence that the pro-life movement has begun highly disciplined grassroots movements in the states to implement constitutional amendments. Such amendments would have to be taken all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes of overturning Roe. The Colorado for Equal Rights campaign, or (CER), and its founder, 20 year-old Kristine Burton, are spearheading the “Definition of Person” initiative.
Burton is the oldest of three home-schooled children and graduated high school at the age of 15. At 17, she enrolled in Oak Brook College of Law & Government Policy, a California-based correspondence law school that is overtly religious. The school’s Web site says that “Oak Brook emphasizes Biblical standards of moral character and encourages its students to seek the Lord Jesus Christ for wisdom and understanding in their studies. Through the personal discipline of studying and applying Scripture, students maintain the awareness that God is the ultimate moral authority to Whom we are accountable.”