Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
Two Very Bad Amendments
October 30, 1998
If only it were a perfect world we would not be fighting over the word
"abortion." All babies -- black babies, white babies, brown babies --
would be wanted, loved, cuddled, fed, and kept warm and safe.
If it were a perfect world, the teenage eruption of hormones and the
development of reason and responsibility would occur together in the
human body. If it were a perfect world, adult women would be free to
control their reproductive lives and all children would be wanted
It is not a perfect world. "Abortion" is the political buzzword of the
day, and is spawning passionate rhetoric from the right wing about
saving unborn babies. This is a deeply personal, moral, medical
issue, that has been turned into a political side show. The current
battle is setting women's fight for reproductive choice back 100 years,
as the fight is not only against abortion, but against birth control.
This in the age of viagra!
Abortion is not a new issue. As the Grolier Encyclopedia points out,
"Induced abortion has been practiced in every culture since ancient
times." Laws cannot stop it. They merely force it underground.
Meanwhile, the serious problems of women and girls who are faced with
unplanned/unwanted pregnancies, and the welfare of the mothers and
babies which result from them are being ignored.
Facing us in the election next week are two proposed anti-abortion
amendments to the Colorado Revised Statutes. Both of them are there
for political reasons and both should be defeated.
The proposal to put the so-called Partial Birth Abortion amendment into
the Colorado constitution is moot. Very few such abortions are
performed and then only in the direst of circumstances. It is the first
step in a nationwide campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade, which made
abortion safe and legal in this country in 1973. Gary L. Bauer of the
Family Research Council, a leader in the anti-choice movement explains
it quite specifically in a letter to his followers dated April 3,
1997. "Step one in that fight is the
passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997...Step two in our
plan would follow ... with a federal statue barring abortions in the
second and third trimester...Step three is to adopt comprehensive
protection for human life from conception to natural death." And this
from a group which campaigns to keep government out of our private
The language in the Colorado amendment is so vague and deceptive that it
may well be interpreted to ban all abortions. It does not specify a
time frame and makes no exception for abortions needed to protect a
woman's health unless she is dying. "Partial birth abortion" is not a
medical term and has no clinical definition. Under this proposal
doctors could be prosecuted and convicted of a class 5 felony. This is
a blatant interference in the relationship between a woman and her
The other proposed anti-choice amendment would force a teenage girl to
notify both parents (biological, adoptive or foster) of her request for
an abortion. While the overwhelming majority of teens tell their
parents , some have very good reasons for fearing to do so. In the
cases of incest and abuse, such notification may in fact be dangerous
to the girl. This law puts those girls at risk .
Even more damaging to women, it would codify an issue that has been
perplexing theologians, philosophers and physicians for centuries. It
defines life as beginning at fertilization. Its aim is to deny teens --
and eventually all women -- access to legal, safe contraceptive
care. Did Margaret Sanger go to prison in vain?
If only it were a perfect world, all babies would be wanted and cared
for. Since it isn't, let's work for ways to end the need for
abortion. Let's take it out of the political arena. Let's worry as
much about the born babies as about the unborn ones. Let's figure out
ways to care for HIV babies, and crack babies. Let's spend more for
research for birth control methods, and make them more easily available
to all women regardless of age or income. Let's try to break the circle
of poverty in which the millions of mothers find themselves. Let's
work harder at teaching abstinence to our teens.
But let's not insert an intrusive government between a woman and her
doctor at the most traumatic time of her life. Let's not let
Amendments 11 and 12 become a part of the Colorado constitution.