"Personhood" battles have begun in Colorado and Montana.
Pro-lifers recently launched ballot initiatives to protect the unborn in their state and lay a stepping stone to someday overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.
In Colorado, pro-life groups introduced new language after a failed attempt in 2008. The amendment this time leaves out the word "fertilization," which the groups say confused voters, and defines a person as simply "every human being from the beginning of biological development of that human being."
The proposed Colorado Personhood Constitutional Amendment was filed last week with the state Legislative Council. If approved, a petition will be circulated for signatures to place the measure on the ballot in November 2010.
Meanwhile, in Montana, pro-lifers have already begun collecting signatures to place their personhood measure on the 2010 ballot. The proposed amendment to the Montana Constitution would define person as "all human beings from the beginning of the biological development of that human being."
"The language of the personhood amendment proclaims what most people know, that human life begins at conception and that all human beings are persons," said Kalispell physician Annie Bukacek, president of the Montana ProLife Coalition, according to Great Falls Tribune.
The Montana ProLife Coalition argues that state personhood initiatives would not only demonstrate the sacred humanity of the unborns and the injustice of abortion, but they would also allow legislators to use it to support pro-life legislation and defend it in the courts.
"It will not outlaw abortion but will be a stepping stone for future overturning Roe v. Wade," the coalition states.
Some pro-life groups disagree.
Right to Life of Montana, the Montana Catholic Conference and the Montana Family Foundation are not backing the state ballot initiative, according to the local Tribune.
The groups are not opposed to the effort of ending abortion, but some believe the initiative would not help in banning abortion at the national level.
"We applaud [Montana ProLife Coalition] for their efforts and God bless them, but we just don't feel this is the right way to go about it," Moe Wosepka, executive director of the Montana Catholic Conference, told the Tribune. "Many of the pro-life experts that we have consulted with have the consensus that this could very possibly strengthen Roe v. Wade, which would weaken pro-life efforts. We don't want to take that chance."
Keith Mason of Personhood USA, meanwhile, hopes to see both sides of the personhood debate presented to the public to generate honest debate.
Mason says the media has adopted only the language of those opposed to personhood initiatives, particularly that of abortionist Warren Hern.
Hern argued in a 2007 editorial that fertilized eggs are not persons and presented the analogy that a fertilized egg is to a person as a seed is to an apple or a set of plans is to a house.
He further argued that the personhood argument is not based on facts but rather, belief.
"Why can't there be two positions presenting their views accurately, allowing the public make up their minds?" Mason posed in a statement released Monday, while noting that some in the media continue to echo the "fertilized egg deception."
Mason contends it is scientific fact "that at the very beginning of our biological development (conception, fertilization, etc) a unique human is present."
"Our position clearly states that all human beings are always persons, no matter their age or condition of dependency (or health, function, or method of reproduction) from the beginning of their biological development and should be protected by our law."