Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Person's a Person, No Matter How Small -- Colorado 2008 Amendment 48

Don't tread on me!Amendment 48 was written for one reason -- to outlaw abortion. It tries to do this by defining the term "person" in certain sections of the Colorado Bill of Rights as "any human being from the moment of fertilization".

A couple of very basic problems with this approach. First of all, Roe vs. Wade was decided based on the U.S. Constitution. Changing a term in one state's constitution won't change that one bit.

Second, this definition is circular. According to my understanding of the terms, a person is a human being and a human being is a person. If I don't believe that a fertilized egg is a person, I certainly won't acknowledge that it is a human being. Therefore, this entire definition is either redundant or illogical.

There are plenty more problems. For example, the moment of fertilization is unknowable. There is no way to tell if one of these brand new people even exists, and therefore no way to guarantee its (his or her) rights.

People have been struggling with the definition of "person" for thousands of years. Philosophers, religious leaders, legal experts, everybody has an opinion. Science fiction writers have struggled with the question of whether robots, androids, and extra-terrestrials qualify. Some animal ethicists argue that great apes should have the rights of people. When is the start of life? When is the end of life?

Why is this the realm of the State of Colorado to define, and not the role of each "person" to define for himself or herself?

Suppose this amendment passes. About 50,000 babies are born in Colorado every 9 months. That would be 50,000 people immediately added to our population. How are we going to perform a census to catch all of these new people? Does this one percent increase get translated into the right to an additional Representative to Congress, and if so how would that be fair to the other states?

The Colorado Bill of Rights does not currently define "person", although it is defined elsewhere in the Colorado code. For example, it's not currently considered murder unless you kill a born person. Presumably, every place in the Colorado code that mentions "person" would be impacted by this. Has anybody done the analysis, to determine which laws now apply to 50,000 more people?

This amendment only applies to three specific sections of the Bill of Rights. Who decided which ones and how did they decide? Why wouldn't they have included the entire thing? Seems rather hypocritical to me.

Let's look at the specific sections that would be impacted:
Section 3. Inalienable rights. All persons have certain natural, essential and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; and of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.
So now a fertilized egg has the right to enjoy and defend its life. How? Do the supporters of this measure really believe that a newly fertilized egg can enjoy anything or defend itself? Are we going to provide them with teeny tiny knives to use in this self defense?

What about acquiring, possessing, and protecting property? Has anybody thought about the impact of allowing a fertilized egg to own property? What impact does this have on inheritance law?

How the heck is a fertilized egg going to seek out its safety and happiness?

Now the supporters will no doubt argue that the state will have the right and duty to protect the safety, happiness, life, and liberty of this newly anointed person. But who is speaking up for this entity and what it wants (as if "want" is even relevant)?

And, given that this fertilized egg is now a person, think of all the things that immediately become crimes against a person. The morning after pill, for one, is murder (a conspiracy between the pregnant woman and her doctor). If a pregnant woman drinks an alcoholic beverage she is committing child abuse. In fact, if a pregnant woman has sex, she and her partner are committing child sexual abuse, and will have to have their names added to that of other sex offenders.

Oh, and forget about in vitro fertilization or stem cell research. Those poor little people will be taking the doctors and researchers to court for damages.

Here's another:
Section 6. Equality of justice. Courts of justice shall be open to every person, and a speedy remedy afforded for every injury to person, property or character; and right and justice should be administered without sale, denial or delay.
So now a wronged fertilized egg can take you to court. Presumably that egg will not be taking the stand on its own behalf, so the concept of being able to face your accuser will require significant reinterpretation.

There will have to be a whole new bureaucracy added to the state and all local governments to provide legal and medical protection to all of these otherwise defenseless people. How much will that cost?

And finally:
Section 25. Due process of law. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.
That's comforting. If someone were to, say, imprison this "person" for nine months, that kidnapper would have to have a court order.

What about all the rights that these new "people" wouldn't have, because the new definition only applies to those three identified sections of the Colorado Bill of Rights? They wouldn't have the right to determine the form of government, which I guess means they can't vote. I don't know how they would use those new electronic voting machines anyway. No religious freedom. This should be comforting to the supporters of this measure in that they will be able to impose their religious beliefs on their spawn without consequence. (They already feel comfortable imposing their religious beliefs on the rest of us anyway.) No speedy trials. No requirement for search warrants. No protection of their estates if they commit treason. No freedom of speech or press. No right to assemble (sorry, that means no twins) or petition. No right to bear arms. (So much for those teeny tiny knives.) No protection against eminent domain. No habeas corpus. No equality of the sexes. (Even for a fertilized egg? How can you even tell?) No prohibition of slavery. Yes, you can legally make a fetus work for you without compensation! And so on.

How ridiculous.

As you have guessed, I'm opposed to this measure.

Vote NO on Amendment 48.

Labels: , , , , ,


Blogger Diana Hsieh said...

Thank you for your opposition to Amendment 48!

You might be interested to read an issue paper published by the Coalition for Secular Government: "Amendment 48 Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters That a Fertilized Egg Is Not a Person" by Ari Armstrong and myself. It's available at:

We discuss some of the serious implications of this proposed amendment, including its effects on the legality of abortion, birth control, and in vitro fertilization. And we offer a strong defense of abortion rights based on the biological facts of pregnancy.

Diana Hsieh
Founder, Coalition for Secular Government

The Coalition for Secular Government advocates government solely based on secular principles of individual rights. The protection of a person's basic rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness -- including freedom of religion and conscience -- requires a strict separation of church and state.

Sun Oct 05, 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Wow !
Intelligent (and funny ) comments. What a relief ! I am in Canada- abd a backbencher member of Parliament from Alberta tried to pass a private bill-on foetal protection.In Quebec province- at least- a lot of protest- .Guess our "guy" has a cousin in Colorado ! I love your comment. Perfect.

Sun Oct 05, 09:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd certainly agree that this measure is foolish, but it's probably worth pointing out that some of your arguments, while humorous, can be applied just as easily against any child under the age of about four as they can to a fertilized egg. The fact that toddlers are unable to defend themselves (with less teeny knives perhaps) does nothing to diminish their legal protections.


Tue Jun 29, 10:09:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home