Challenge to Colo. voter guide dismissed

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Abortion opponents hoping Colorado officials would revise language about a ballot measure to outlaw abortion on a state voters’ guide lost their effort in court Thursday.

Denver District Court Judge Robert Hyatt took less than an hour to reject the attempt by abortion opponents to change the way the so-called “personhood” amendment was described in a state voters’ guide called the “blue book.”

Hyatt said the judiciary could not intervene in a “blue book” dispute because the pamphlet is created by state lawmakers. Hyatt also pointed out that most voters have already received the pamphlet and that a government press release pointing out a legal challenge to “blue book” language would have little practical effect.

Abortion opponents say they’ll appeal. Previous attempts by other groups to challenge “blue book” language, in 2004 and 2006, failed.

The “blue book” contains brief summaries of arguments for and against measures on Colorado ballots. It includes a section on the abortion amendment, Amendment 62, which would revise the state constitution to define a person “from the beginning of biological development.” If approved, the measure would outlaw abortions and could ban fertility treatments and emergency contraception if they harmed fertilized eggs.

Abortion opponents say the guide improperly states that Amendment 62 could limit access to “treatment for miscarriages.” Abortion opponents took issue with that description when lawmakers crafted the pamphlet, but state lawmakers sided with opponents to include the language.

Failing to persuade lawmakers, the supporters of the abortion amendment decided to ask the court to intervene. Hyatt declined.

Hyatt pointed out that by the time abortion opponents filed their lawsuit, the “blue book” was already in many voters’ mailboxes. Abortion opponents amended their complaint to ask the state to issue a press release or online statement that the “blue book” language was under review, not print and mail new books.

“It wouldn’t cost the state anything,” said Gualberto Garcis Jones, head of Personhood Colorado, which petitioned the measure onto ballots.

Hyatt retorted that a press release would have “no meaningful impact” and rejected the claim.

“Everybody in this room has received their ‘blue book.’ This court is in no position to go around the state picking them up,” Hyatt said.