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Pro-lifers win in Tenn., gain ground in Colo.

NASHVILLE (BP) — Tennesseans approved Nov. 4 a constitutional amendment to allow legislative regulations on abortions there, while measures in North Dakota and Colorado to affirm the beginning of life at conception failed at the polls.

Still, Southern Baptists in Colorado view the election of pro-life U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner as a victory for unborn children, and North Dakotans will continue to proclaim the value of life from conception, leaders told Baptist Press.

Tennessee Baptist Convention Executive Director Randy Davis expressed gratefulness for voters’ support of Amendment 1, which allows the legislature to regulate abortion in the state. The amendment won with 52.6 percent of the vote in a race that was considered a toss-up when the polls opened.

“I think Tennessee has begun the process of no longer being the destination for abortions in the Southeast,” Davis said. “I’m very thankful that Tennesseans stood up for life. They showed up to vote and I’m very proud of our laymen and pastors that became engaged in the political process over this issue.”

Davis encouraged the church to move forward protecting life, as the measure does not overturn abortion rights in the state, which are protected nationwide under the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling.

“I think we’ve got to be vigilant to protect the sanctity of life,” Davis told Baptist Press. “I also think we’ve got to be very compassionate to those that find themselves considering an abortion, and lovingly provide an alternative to that abortion. Our behavior has got to match our belief about life.”

Colorado Personhood

While efforts in Colorado to establish the existence of life at conception failed, the election of Gardner to oust Democratic incumbent Mark Udall was a huge win for pro-life advocates, Colorado Baptist General Convention Executive Director Mark Edlund told Baptist Press.

Udall’s campaign focused heavily on a woman’s right to choose, overshadowing Amendment 67 known as the Personhood amendment, but strengthening Gardner’s campaign.

“The amendment got married to the Senate race,” Edlund said. “And we elected Cory Gardner which was a huge step forward. He’s very pro-life, so although we didn’t get the amendment, we got the pro-life senator. So it was really a win for us.”

The failure of Amendment 67 marked the third consecutive defeat of personhood efforts in Colorado. The amendment to define “person” and “child” in the Colorado criminal code as “unborn human beings” gained only 35.6 percent of the vote, according to results on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

“I don’t think we had the momentum to actually pass the amendment,” Edlund said. “I’m hoping they’ll bring it back to us in 2016, and I think we’ll have a good chance at that point actually. We’re delighted that Cory Gardner got elected and he’s going to carry our banner for us.”

Jennifer Mason, communications director of Personhood USA, told Baptist Press that the amendment has enjoyed some success, since it failed by a smaller margin this time than in 2012, when it gained less than 30 percent of the vote.

“It’s disappointing that children are not protected in Colorado today. It is very exciting that even being outspent 1300 to one, we still increased the vote by so many points,” Mason said.

Personhood USA will continue its fight in Colorado, she said.

“Yes, we definitely feel that this is something God has called us to do and we will definitely try again, especially knowing that so many people had their hearts and minds changed about the unborn child in Colorado,” Mason said. “I think it’s definitely needed to try again and build on the successes that we had in this election.”

Mason encouraged the church to continue its efforts to protect life in Colorado and beyond.

“I think that anyone who believes in Jesus can be praying for protection for the unborn and also to support local efforts, wherever they are, to protect unborn children,” Mason said. “The most important thing we can do to save babies’ lives is on a one-on-one basis, so talk to friends, talk to neighbors; if you’re able to go to the abortion clinics and offer help and hope to a woman who’s pregnant, do that.”

“Pray for us as we get ready to keep trying,” she said.

North Dakota Measure 1

North Dakotans rejected Measure 1 by a near two-to-one margin, with only 35.8 percent of voters affirming the amendment. Known as the Human Life Amendment, Measure 1 would have recognized and protected “the inalienable right to life of every human being at every stage of development.”

The measure’s failure does not weaken Dakotans’ support of the unborn, Dakota Baptist Convention Executive Director/Treasure Garvon Golden told Baptist Press.

“North Dakota still remains a strong right-to-life state,” Golden said. “The predominant view in North Dakota is that life is valuable. We’ve had a strong record in the past of not only adopting pro-life legislation, but also standing up for the rights of the unborn as well as throughout life. And this measure was just to affirm that.”

Abortion rights activists worked hard to defeat the measure, Golden said.

“I think a lot of those who opposed the measure began to focus peoples’ attentions on ‘what-ifs’ instead of the certainty of saying we are for life,” Golden said. “I don’t think the vote was a true measure of how we as North Dakotans feel about the right to life.”

Southern Baptists in the Dakotas will continue to proclaim the sanctity of life and work for its protection, Golden said.

“We’ll continue as a convention and as Southern Baptists in the Dakotas to stand on the truth that all life is valuable and we’ll continue to advocate for that. We’ll continue to preach that from our pulpits and lead our people to vote their values when they have the opportunity to, and we will put our trust in God and the democratic process.”