Did you just call me a zygote?

In November, Colorado voters will decide whether the state's Constitution should define fertilized eggs as people.


Catherine Price
September 16, 2008 5:30PM (UTC)

A few months ago, when I wrote about a proposed ballot initiative in Colorado that would define a fertilized egg as a person, I was hoping that I'd been fooled by an Onion headline.

But alas, it's true. Proposed Amendment 48 (PDF), which will indeed be on the ballot in November, is described as an amendment to change the definition of the term "person" to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization as 'person' is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law."

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Yikes. I usually try to see both sides of things -- and while I do understand how people could consider abortion murder (even if I don't agree with them), I've got to say, this one crosses the line. I already enunciated a lot of my objections in my previous post, but this editorial by Gail Schoettler in the Denver Post lays down a few more.

What about cancer treatments, Schoettler asks, which can kill a fetus -- could a woman on chemotherapy be considered a murderer? Or how about birth control or in vitro fertilization (which can waste fertilized eggs)? Stem cell research? Could a fetus have property rights?

"The proposal says a handful of cells is just as important as the woman whose egg might have been fertilized," Schoettler writes. "Is it just as important as a mom with three kids to take care of? Should it be given the same rights as a woman who has dedicated her life to teaching or medicine or community service?"

I like to think that women who don't have three kids and haven't devoted their lives to community service still have at least the same importance as their unborn children, but I suppose that's a small point to quibble with. The bottom line -- which is laid out thoughtfully and convincingly in this article (PDF) -- is that Amendment 48 is creepy as hell. I hope that Colorado's citizens have the sense not to pass it.


Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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