'Personhood amendment' campaigners had previously compared embryos to slaves

Using the term "fertilized egg" is "the same thing as using the N-word," says the pro-life minister behind a Colorado campaign to have fertilized eggs declared legal persons.

Colorado's Amendment 62, which will appear on the ballot this November, is the second attempt by pro-life groups in the state to have fertilized eggs declared legal persons. The campaign is seen as a direct challenge to pro-choice rights, as a declaration that fertilized eggs are persons would potentially make any case of abortion a homicide.

At a rally in Colorado Springs last week, Keith Mason, the head of Personhood USA, compared the struggle for a "personhood amendment" to the struggles for equal rights for women and African Americans.

“Amendment 62 gives the rights of a person to every human being, no matter their age, their race, their sex,” Mason said, as quoted at KRDO Channel 13.

Mason continued: “I think it's important to note with the term fertilized egg, that's the same thing as using the N-word for an African American. Because it's a dehumanizing term and it's not based in science. The term would be a zygote, or an embryo, speaking of a unique individual."

Mason was involved in the previous "personhood" effort in Colorado, which lost in the 2008 ballot by a margin of 73 percent to 27 percent.

But, as the Baptist Press notes, the amendment's failure hasn't discouraged pro-life activists from attempting similar amendments in other states.

Although it didn't come close to passage, it sparked a nationwide movement that saw personhood amendments pass the North Dakota House and the Montana Senate in 2009. Neither bill went any further, but it showed that the issue was not limited to Colorado. Mississippi citizens, for instance, will vote on a personhood initiative in 2011, thanks to a successful petition drive.

Attending the rally in Colorado Springs, Fofi Mendez, the campaign director for No On 62, said the amendment, if approved, would impact "thousands of laws."

“What Amendment 62 is doing is giving constitutional and legal rights to a woman's fertilized egg, and by doing so, not only are you creating far reaching consequences for families in the state of Colorado, you are also impacting literally thousands of laws,” he said.

“It is inviting politicians, courts and lawyers into our personal private decisions, like when we use family planning,” he continued. “If we're raped, if we choose to have an abortion -- that's the impact that this amendment has.”

Earlier this year, the Amendment 62 campaign compared fetuses to slaves in their ads.

In one ad, a fictitious slave named George Stevens declared: “I fought so all slaves would be recognized as persons, not property, and we won ... But today in Colorado there are still people called property -- children -- just like I was. And that America you thought you wouldn’t recognize is all around you, and these children are being killed.”

Polling on Amendment 62 seems to be lacking, but the Republican candidate for US Senate, Ken Buck, may have shown which way the wind blows when his campaign backed away from the amendment. According to the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Buck changed his campaign Web site from backing the amendment to saying he never backed it, and would stay neutral on the issue.

According to the Personhood USA Web site, in 2009 Mason was involved in an education campaign designed to convince the people of the Dominican Republic to ban all abortions in its constitution. The effort was successful.