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Peyton law student initiates pro-life amendment

A local law student is attempting to gain support from Coloradoans for a ballot initiative that would legally define a person as a human being at the time of conception.Peyton resident Kristi Burton, 20, said the initiative is a “personhood” amendment. She said it would lay the foundation in Colorado for the exact moment human life begins.Burton is passionate about pro-life issues, which she attributes to her mother, who began to discuss women’s health issues with Burton when she was a teen. “I have always felt a passion for the pro-life effort,” Burton said. The third year Oak Brook College of Law student said the pro-life effort is why she decided to pursue law. “It’s always the right time to do what is right.”Burton founded Colorado for Equal Rights last summer with the help of her family and a lawyer friend. She said the group is an issue committee, which needed to be formed to be able to raise funds for the ballot measure.She insists the initiative would not ban current Colorado law. “It would not ban anything,” she said. “It lays the foundation if unborn is a person.” She said if the ballot initiative is passed, the Colorado Legislature could interpret exactly what it means.For the initiative to be included on the November ballot, 76,000 signatures need to be submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State by May 13. She is attempting to obtain 100,000 to 150,000 to make sure they are well within the guidelines.Burton said the ballot measure has a good chance of passing. “As a whole, Colorado is pro-life,” she said.Colorado for Equal Rights approached Pikes Peak Citizens for Life in November. Bernadette Johnston, PPCFL secretary, said the organization is eager to help in the effort. “This is our issue and we’re happy to cooperate.”Quoting children’s author Dr. Seuss, Johnston said the issue can be put into one sentence, “A person is a person no matter how small.” The PPCFL is a National Right to Life affiliate.Johnston emphasized Burton’s stance that the “personhood” amendment doesn’t outlaw anything currently enforced but lays the foundation that Colorado courts and legislation would follow.Johnston is confident the measure will pass. “Yes, we’re going to be successful,” she said.Not everyone supports Burton’s efforts or thinks the measure will pass.”Coloradoans are very sensible and they will vote this thing down,” said Jody Berger, director of communications at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.Berger said she is concerned about the effect the measure would have on women’s health rights. “We have no idea how far this could reach,” she said. “It’s so vaguely worded that it could impact a whole variety of issues that Coloradoans care about.” Berger sited in-vitro fertilization, stem cell research, abortion and birth control as some of the issues that could be affected by the passage of the measure.Similar efforts are under way in Georgia and Montana, Berger said.The Rev. Benjamin Broadbent, lead pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ of Colorado Springs, said no one could define when life begins.”The issue of when human life begins is not a settled matter. It is not a settled matter in Scripture, and it is not a settled matter in the scientific community,” he said.Broadbent said the ballot initiative would have “disastrous consequences for women” because the law would not allow women to terminate a pregnancy for any reason since the fertilized egg would be considered equal to the pregnant woman’s life. He doesn’t think the issue will pass. “It would impose a minimum belief upon a majority of citizens.”

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