The Personhood Amendment is Back in Colorado for 2012

27 04 2012

After another round before the Supreme Court, the Colorado Personhood Amendment is back in circulation. (Full report here)

Read the new and improved Text of the 2012 Colorado Personhood Amendment

This year, a coalition of groups called the Colorado Personhood Coalition is taking the lead.  Please visit their website ( , sign up, and contact them to get your petition TODAY.

The turn in date for signatures is July 9 th

The Colorado Catholic Conference, while not participating directly, has encouraged churches to participate as long as the pastor agrees.  Bishop Conley has also signed the petition in his capacity as a private citizen.  Please refer to the Colorado Bishops Tab to read the statements of the Colorado Bishops.

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula on Colorado’s Amendment 62!

27 09 2010

Spirit & Life

Human Life International e-Column
Volume 05, Number 35 | Friday, September 24, 2010

Politics and the American Person

After having lived in the U.S. and then in Rome for many years, I must say that American politics intrigue me a great deal. I follow the debates and races closely, because I realize that the decisions of American voters affect not only Americans; indeed, they affect the entire world.

For example, almost two years ago a majority of American voters elected a man because he breezily promised “Hope” and “Change”, and too few thought to ask such basic questions as: Hope in whom? Or Change to what, precisely, and from what? A religious fervor seemed to overtake masses of people for whom actual religion has obviously become an afterthought, and they suspended all critical thought in order to float away on a sea of make belief hope and liberal change.

Yet such seas can be much rockier the salesman leads us to believe. This man elected by Americans seems to be on an economic kamikaze mission, he acts as if he is embarrassed to represent your nation abroad, he spurns historical American allies while indicating to the scoundrels of the world that they belong among the elite, he does not attend services on Sunday, then seems surprised that some question his commitment to his faith… truly one could go on and on about the many problems that this man presents to the nation that elected him.

But the most troubling thing one notices when paying close attention to the president’s actions is his utter disregard for the human person. It appears that every initiative he is enthusiastic about is designed to diminish the person, and increase his dependency on government to live his life for him.

That is, for those persons who are actually allowed to live their lives. We already know the staggering toll taken by legalized abortion, and we know that the current president has without qualification supported every expansion of the murderous procedure he has ever has opportunity to support. Not that he would agree that killing these tiny human beings is murder: Like many, he thinks that some human beings are persons worthy of life, and some human beings are not persons, and thus may be destroyed for any reason whatsoever.

The historical, philosophical and moral problems are ones that the president, and most other proponents of abortion refuse to confront, at least openly. If we agree that all persons should be protected and allowed to live until their natural death, then to make abortion and euthanasia legal, we have to find ways to deny the personhood of those who are not wanted.

The problem for those who buy into this bifurcation between humanity and personhood is first historical: this is exactly the formula employed by every mass murderer in history. It is the semantic of oppression, a procedure through which the groups that are targeted to be destroyed or exploited are described with traits that go from having human deficiencies to even to denying their humanity. Once this semantic takes hold, those in power go about destroying the newly-depersonalized.

The second problem is philosophical: What exactly determines why this human being should live, and this other one should not? Those who claim that the difference is one of an ability to demonstrate conscience and will or some other more or less measurable trait always ignore the fact that such traits are often transitory. I can be sentient one minute, non-sentient the next, then back to my old self. A baby starts life with very limited conscience and will and all of us run the risk of ending our lives with a diminished state of consciousness. These criteria are also notoriously subjective and subject to revision.

The undeniable fact is that those who defend the destruction of innocent human life in the form of abortion and euthanasia cannot confront the moral issues, nor can they confront the history that proves beyond a doubt the similarity between their reasoning and that of the most heinous murderers of history.

Either every human being is a person, regardless of his or her ability to demonstrate a particular trait or demonstrate their utility and convenience; or we can destroy any one at any time for any reason. One only needs time to come up with this reason and a story that will convince others to cooperate in or endorse the destruction.

But if, as we believe, every human being is a person with the right to live the life he already enjoys, up until the point of natural death, then we owe it to the weakest of our brothers and sisters to defend them, including, and perhaps especially, in law. Guaranteeing the personhood of every human being in law is crucial if we are to get beyond the back and forth of activist judges or politicians who must worry about their own position as much as they must the life of an elderly woman, or a disabled child.

In America, as in the rest of the world, politics is the art of the possible, with the goal of achieving the common good. And there are certainly some courageous politicians fighting for life. But if there is a chance to put and an end to the whole debate with constitutional language that would bind the enemies of life – even a slight chance – that is a chance that those who love life should be willing to take.

In the beautiful state of Colorado, I have learned that voters have a chance to affect such a change, to put language defining and defending every human person into the state constitution, up above the heads of judges and politicians: language that will force these leaders to either obey law respecting the life of the human person or to openly declare their hostility not only to life, but to the rule of law.

Many of us are watching with great anticipation. May the Lord of Life and His Blessed Mother guide the citizens of Colorado in truth and wisdom, and may American persons continue to move in the direction of embracing and defending the life of every human person.


Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula
Interim President, Human Life International

The Huffington Post Uses the Colorado Catholic Conference’s Silence to Legitimize the Culture of Death

23 06 2010

In a Huffington Post article published by Don C. Reed, a stem cell research proponent, the author lists a litany of effects that the Colorado Personhood Amendment would have.  They include, banning abortifacient contraception such as the current pill, reforming IVF, banning abortion, and banning human embryonic stem cell research.  All of these “effects” are precisely what the Catholic Church teaches faithful Catholics to strive for in legislation, or is it?

Don C. Reed states:

How do leading pro-life groups feel about the “personhood” movement?

Major right to life groups appear to regard the “personhood” attempt as so extreme, it would be damaging to their goals.

To the best of my knowledge, the personhood movement is NOT supported by the Catholic Church, the National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, nor the Eagle Forum.

In other words, the image that the Catholic Conference is giving is that fighting against the culture of death in a principled comprehensive manner, is “extreme.”

What I would like to know is what does, Don C. Reed, open pro-abortion and proponent of human experimentation, believe the goal of the Catholic Church to be?  And why in the world won’t the Catholic Bishops speak up in favor of a bill that seeks to do everything they teach should be done?

The world is full of mysteries.  Luckily, for this simple minded Catholic, doing the right thing, speaking up for truth (no matter if the world says it is a lost cause) is a lofty enough goal.


22 03 2010

March 18, 2010

Two weeks after the Secretary of State unjustly tossed out 20,000 signatures based on an error on the part of the Secretary of State’s notaries, Personhood Colorado and Colorado Right to Life turned in 46,721 additional signatures to put the Personhood Amendment back on the ballot!  The total number of signatures gathered over the two gathering periods was over 120,000!

The Personhood Amendment will present Coloradans the chance to amend their constitution, so that all human beings, regardless of their age and stage of development, will enjoy the same fundamental rights and liberties under the law.  It will put an end to the crime of abortion.

Ballot access represents a monumental victory for thousands of grass roots activists who have shown the perseverance and determination that will eventually win the day and restore Truth to our laws.  With pragmatism and political corruption ruling our cherished institutions, the people have risen to demand real justice for all.

As Catholics we hold fast to the truth, and in keeping with the principle of subsidiarity, we the Catholic people of Colorado will fight to achieve true justice (not socialism) for all human persons, born and preborn.

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

Thank you all for your incredible effort during the last 9 months!

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.


21 12 2009





10 12 2009

If the Embryo is Human, It is a Person: Vatican Doctrine Official

17 11 2009

By Hilary White

ROME, November 13, 2009 ( – If an embryo is human, it is a person – this is the golden rule for bioethics if it wants to uphold the full dignity of the human person, said the secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on Tuesday.

The “concept of person” and its application to all human beings at every stage of their development is the key to understanding the Catholic teachings on the life issues Archbishop Luis Ladaria told a conference in Rome.

Archbishop Ladaria was speaking to an audience of students at a conference sponsored by the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas, on the document, “Dignitas Personae” (“The Dignity of the Person”), an instruction from the CDF published in 2008 on “certain bioethical questions.” These included developments in artificial reproductive technologies, such as genetic manipulation of embryos and cloning. Ladaria noted that when US President Barack Obama was visiting Rome, he was presented with a copy of the document by Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope Benedict, while Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Prefect of the CDF, was responsible for the 1987 publication of the landmark document Donum Vitae, upon which Dignitas Personae was based. The much-ignored “Donum Vitae” (“The Gift of Life”), laid down the Church’s teaching on the moral inadmissability of nearly all artificial reproductive technologies currently in use around the world.

Both documents emphasize that the fundamental moral objection to such practices as genetic manipulation, artificial insemination, cloning and in vitro fertilization is that they invariably result in the deaths of innumerable human beings at the embryonic stage and that they deny the fundamental right of the child to be conceived and nurtured naturally in the context of marriage.

Archbishop Ladaria spoke of the “new approach” the document presents for bioethicists based on the nature of the human person and the special relationship of man to God who was incarnate in Jesus Christ.

Human beings cooperate with God when they reproduce, he said.  “Procreation is a special cooperation. Only in human love, which is a reflection of divine love, in mutual donation, is found the context for cooperation with the love of God the creator.”

This teaching, Ladaria said, holds that human dignity is “not granted” by human agency, but “is recognized as a previous fact.”

The Church’s teaching is based on the now-scientifically proved fact that human life begins in its entirety at the moment of conception. The basic rule for ethicists, he said, is, “If it is a human, it is always a person.” This includes the zygote, the single-cell product of the union of ovum and sperm.

From the first moment, he said, the embryo “has a full anthropological qualification; there is a continuity; there are no leaps that have in them substantial mutations; the embryonic body develops. One can see the decisive reason to accept the very dignity of the person.”

(With files from Zenit News Agency)

Here’s the Bishops’ Latest Statement

13 11 2009

Because the Colorado Catholic Conference Website is still listing the 2008 statement as the last statement issued on the subject of Personhood, I am posting here, the statement received by all Priests and Deacons last month.  Note that this letter is much more open to participation than the 2008 letter listed on the Colorado Catholic Conference website.October 1, 2009

Dear Father/Deacon:
You may have recently become aware of a petition drive to collect signatures that seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2010 ballot here in Colorado. This ballot initiative would define personhood as beginning at the moment of biological development. The term biological development is a vague term and it will be up to a court or the legislature to determine its meaning.
As you may recall a similar initiative was run in 2008 that defined personhood as beginning at the moment of fertilization.
This letter is intended to explain why we the Bishops of Colorado, acting through the Colorado Catholic Conference, are not participating in the gathering of signatures for this ballot initiative. We
affirm the principle that life begins at conception and therefore we affirm the personhood of the unborn. However, while we share the ultimate objective of this effort to bring about an end to legal
abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade, we do not think that this strategy will provide a realistic opportunity for reversing Roe. Such a strategy will divert valuable resources away from other more constructive efforts in defense of human life such as enacting a fetal homicide law or an ultrasound and informed consent law.

The decision to allow signature collection at your parish is one we are leaving to the judgment of the pastor. If you are approached by people in your parish wishing to collect signatures for this ballot initiative, and you feel it is pastorally appropriate for your community, we will trust your decision.
The Catholic Church in Colorado has a long and active history of working, through state legislative efforts and other community initiatives, to protect life from conception to natural death. We will
continue through every realistic means to work toward this end and we will keep you informed about our efforts at the state level so that your parishioners can be involved.
Thank you for everything you do to support the sanctity of human life.
In Christ,
+Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.

+Most Reverend James D. Conley, S.T.L.Archbishop of Denver

Auxiliary Bishop of Denver+Most Reverend Arthur N. Tafoya, D.D +Most Reverend Michael J. Sheridan, S.T.D.Bishop of Pueblo Bishop of Colorado Springs

1535 Logan Street
● Denver, CO 80203-1913 ● Office: 303-894-8808 ● Fax: 303-894-7939E-mail: ● Website:

Imagine the Educational Impact the Church Could Have Through Personhood!

28 10 2009

The Colorado Independent just published this story yesterday: Personhood Initiative Lining up Friends and Foes

In it, Johnathan Van Blerkom, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said “You would find in this state, myself included, that embryo research would freeze. If there were criminal penalties or you were lumped together with abortionists for looking at embryos that are discarded because they are abnormal and you want to know why they are abnormal … no one is going to do it.”

Van Blerkom who works at a fertilization clinic as well, said that in-vitro fertilization would likely end in the state. He explained that the very process of fertilization can kill the embryo if more than one sperm gets into the egg. He said legal liability would loom over all procedures.

“It’s criminal liability. So would any program want to freeze an embryo in the state of Colorado? If the embryos die, as they frequently do when they are thawed, is that your responsibility? Is it an act of God? An act of science?”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our church chimed in?  With millions of human persons at the embryonic stage being sacrificed every year, would this be as, Jenny Kraska of the Colorado Catholic Conference has written, “a waste of resources”?  Or is it a unique opportunity that the church is squandering to change our culture of death?

The Gospel of Life and Personhood

19 10 2009


Pope John Paul the Great made the proclamation of the Gospel of life one of the central aspects of his papacy.  It is little wonder that the theme of the 1993 World Youth Day celebrated in Denver, Colorado, in 1993 was: “I came that they might have life, and have it to the full.”

Pope John Paul II was painfully aware of the moral tailspin into which Colorado had led our nation and the world when it legalized the killing of innocent children in the womb and deprived them of their personhood.  He never shied away from proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel of life and taught us that “in the proclamation of this Gospel of life, we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking (Rom 12:2).  We must be in the world but not of the world (Jn15:19; 17:16), drawing our strength from Christ, who by his Death and Resurrection has overcome the world (Jn 16:33).”

As the proponent of the 2010 Personhood Amendment and a fellow Catholic, I feel called to fight a battle that, except for the light of Christ, is filled with discouragement, division, uncertainty, and darkness.  I ask you to join me in the fight against the culture of death by getting personally involved in gathering signatures to put the amendment on the ballot in 2010.

A Personhood Amendment is an ideal approach to carry the Gospel of life to our brothers and sisters for several reasons: it is unambiguously true, it is above all educational as opposed to legalistic, it requires the direct participation of the faithful, it restores the proper relationship between Divine law, the government, and the people, and it directs our hope not to a politician or judges, but to Christ on the cross.

In order to achieve these important goals we need you to reach out to your fellow Catholics and help us collect 76,047 signatures by February of 2010.


Personhood is a concept, which holds that from “the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (Evangelium Vitae)

Why do we insist on using the word “person” in our fight against the attacks on human dignity?  Why not define when life begins, or what a human being is?  To understand this, we must first understand what the meaning of the word “person” is.

The word “person” has different meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

In a theological context the word “person” refers to the union of the physical and the spiritual, in other words the body and the soul.  In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul the II quotes Cardinal Ratzinger and asks the rhetorical question: how could a human individual not be a human person?  In other words, the Catholic notion that a human individual is also a human person is a self evident truth.

Within the context of an atheistic philosophy, the term “person” is defined by a set of utilitarian qualities: is the human being self aware? Does he or she have the capacity to reason?  Can he or she live independently and develop relationships?  All of these are the complete opposite of what our faith teaches.  Human dignity comes not from our differing abilities and qualities, but from our brotherhood as children of the same Father.

In a legal context, a proper definition of the word “person” is of extreme importance.

The United States Constitution uses the word “person” 49 times, on the other hand it never uses the word “human being” or “human life” or even “human.”  The reason is quite simple; the constitution is primarily concerned with rights, and the way to refer to one who is recognized by law as the subject of rights and duties, is by use of the word “person.”

In the Case of Colorado v. Lage (2009), a man who crashed his car head on to the car of an eight and a half month pregnant woman and child, was able to avoid being charged with killing the child in the womb because the court felt “compelled by the legislature’s definition of a “person,” which only considered a child to be a “person” after birth.  Clearly, the constitutional definition of the word “person” is critical to the defense of preborn children.


Some issues have been raised regarding the practicality of a personhood amendment.  Typical arguments against personhood are: we need to wait to have more supportive justices on the court, the amendment already lost a popular vote once, such efforts divert attention and resources away from more achievable measures, and even if the amendment were to pass, it would have a negative legal effect.

A detailed refutation of each of these arguments is available at the website of Personhood Colorado,; I encourage all of you to consider both sides.  But more eloquent than all of the rational and legal arguments that I can offer are the deeply insightful and inspired words of our beloved John Paul the Great.  The great defender of life wrote, “as I have frequently stated, when freedom is detached from objective truth it becomes impossible to establish personal rights on a firm rational basis; and the ground is laid for society to be at the mercy of the unrestrained will of individuals or the oppressive totalitarianism of public authority.”

These words answer all the arguments against personhood.  They highlight the need to disengage from corrupt and unjust laws – which are no laws at all – and establish a solid foundation for real freedom based in Truth.

The great defender of life asks us to “focus on the formation of consciences and the recovery of the necessary link between freedom and truth.”  In other words, focus on education, focus on the principle.

The Personhood Amendment is first and foremost aimed at a cultural transformation which will form consciences “with regard to the incomparable and inviolable worth of every human life.”  In that light, the pessimistic arguments against the personhood amendment are transformed into the very reasons why we must participate in it.  The darker our culture, the greater in need of the bright light of Truth.

Although personhood is about principle, it also has a solid legal basis.  While some lawyers disagree with the practicality of personhood amendments, prestigious Catholic law firms such as the Thomas Moore Law Center, and renown Catholic legal scholars such as Notre Dame Professor Emeritus of Law Charles Rice strongly support personhood efforts describing them as “prudent, timely, and positive.”  Professor Rice explains that personhood amendments are “an affirmation of the federalism embodied in the general structure of the United States Constitution and the Tenth Amendment.”

Pro-lifers should know that the state personhood amendment approach to prohibiting abortion has never been tried, and has thus, never failed.  Isn’t it worth a shot?

Yet for all the legal strategizing, personhood is fundamentally about principle, a Catholic and universal principle that all human beings must have the rights of person from the very first moment of his or her existence.  Unless we establish this principle, no amount of legal strategies will ever set our hearts straight; and unless our hearts are changed the law will be devoid of meaning.


“But he was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his bruises we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Approaching a complete stranger in a public venue and talking to him about abortion is one of the most uncomfortable things you can ask a person to do.  Even door to door salesmen are treated better than pro-life missionaries.  Yet, as Christians, we know that our calling is to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ, who was rejected and despised but was faithful even unto death!

John Paul the Great asked us “to bring the Gospel of life to the heart of every man and woman and to make it penetrate every part of society.”  Taking a petition and engaging everyone regardless of their appearance or station in life is almost an act of faith.  While gathering petitions at the Colorado State Fair I learned the value of approaching every person regardless of their appearance.  Many people who wore large crucifixes “had no time,” or would “do it another day.”  Yet young men and women with tattoos and immodest clothing would stop and talk about abortion, and often, they would sign our petition.

Having an active presence in the legislature to represent Catholic moral beliefs is important, but it is no substitute for the personal evangelical calling of every Catholic.  Changing laws does not necessarily change hearts, personal example and personal sacrifice does.

The Colorado Personhood Amendment is in keeping with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which holds that functions of government, business, and other secular activities should be as local as possible.  Individual Catholics, Catholic families, and Catholic parishes should not leave to larger organizations what can be done by them.  The initiative process affords individuals the power to shape their own constitution, this is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Subsidiarity encourages personal responsibility and consequently a concurrent personal transformation.

In my own experience, the act of gathering signatures has been one of the most transformative in my life.  By making myself the advocate for the voiceless preborn child, and on occasion, accepting the rejection of friend and foe alike, I have grown closer to Christ, experiencing that redemptive suffering which makes us grow in our love for God.

The battle against the culture of death is a difficult one.  “To be truly a people at the service of life we must propose these truths constantly and courageously from the very first proclamation of the Gospel, and thereafter in catechesis, in the various forms of preaching, in personal dialogue and in all educational activity.”  These words are John Paul the Great’s.  His life was an example of living the Gospel of Life.  It is our calling as Catholics to follow Christ’s example as faithfully as our beloved popes.  I believe the Colorado Personhood Amendment offers us as Catholics an unrivaled opportunity to do so.

As Mother Teresa said, let us strive to be faithful, not to be successful, for the way of the faithful Christian turns defeat into victory, and death into life.

“Death with life contended: combat strangely ended!  Life’s own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.”