I have to admit that when I first heard about the proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would redefine "person" to include human embryos from the moment of fertilization, I got a little excited. It wasn't for any of the reasons you might expect from a normal person, though--it was because I foresaw a HUGE legal glitch. You see, if the Colorado Constitution defined "person" in that way for purposes of Colorado law, there would have been a teeny, tiny problem: the state's murder statute would have been effectively rewritten to include first-trimester fetuses and would thus have violated the current interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Just like that, the statute could have been struck down and all murder could have been legal in Colorado.
I guess I wasn't the only one who thought of this, though, because the proposed amendment DOESN'T redefine "person" for purposes of all Colorado law: it only redefines the word as it's used in specific provisions of the Constitution.
Thus, no major legal snafu...just a whole lot of nothin'.
The provisions specified are, of course, those that relate to inalienable rights and such...but what to do? Life, for instance, is an inalienable right. And the Colorado Constitution may well be amended to extend that inalienable right to a fetus at the moment of conception. But then what? The current interpretation of the U.S. Constitution--the interpretation that's prevailed for decades--says that states can't limit the right to elective abortion in the first trimester. Thus, the state of Colorado can deem that unborn child a "person" and say it can't be deprived of life without due process of law, but what due process is available? The only due process permissible under the U.S. Constitution would be a hearing or other process to determine that the woman was, in fact, in the first trimester of her pregnancy. Once that was determined, the U.S. Constitution would prevent any further regulation of her access to an abortion.
Doesn't do that "person" a whole lot of good to have been renamed, does it?
Naturally, lawmakers and lobbyists alike know this. So what are they doing? What's the point of spending time and money and commanding the time and attention of Colorado voters as if this were a serious issue, when they all know that the practical effect of the amendment will be nonexistant?
I guess it looks good on a resume.