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Apr 13, 2013 11:41 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Mother who lost unborn child in crash trying to pass personhood amendment

A mother who lost her baby after being hit by a drunk driver while she was nine-months pregnant stopped by Pueblo on Saturday as part of a campaign tour to rally support for an amendment that would recognize unborn children as people in Colorado.

Heather Surovik was driving home from her last prenatal check-up in Longmont on July 5 2012. She and her mother had just watched Brady, her soon to be born son, on an ultrasound and were heading home to prepare for his birth.

"Get stuff ready for when Brady came, you know pick up the last bit of things," Surovik told News 5. "The doctor said that I was dilated so it could be any day."

But in an instant everything changed. A drunk driver slammed into their car and drove off. Heather, her mother, and her then 5-year-old son were all rushed to the hospital. She was seriously injured and woke up in intensive care to learn Brady had died.

"To me it felt like only seconds, you know two-seconds ago I was just pregnant with him and now I'm not," Surovik described. "Now he's gone."

Police were able to catch the drunk driver, Gary Sheats, and found he had multiple DUIs and a suspended license. Sheats faced numerous charges, but none for the death of Brady.

"They had told us he has this charge, this charge, this charge and that there was no charge for Brady," Surovik explained.

Under Colorado law a baby has to be born and take a breath before they can be considered a living person, meaning that Sheats didn't face any manslaughter or homicide charges for Brady's death.

Surovik is trying to change that, she is gathering petition signatures to put the "Brady Amendment" on the ballot. The amendment would include unborn children in the legal definition of a person under Colorado law and allow homicide or manslaughter charges in cases like Brady's.

"We're going to fight for all the babies and we're going to be a voice for Brady because he doesn't have one," she explained.

But officials with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told News 5 that, while they sympathize with Surovik, they oppose the idea. Similar proposals have been made in the past and have been rejected by voters or haven't gained enough petition signatures.

"The intent has always been the same and that is to ban abortion in all cases and limit access to commonly used birth control methods," said Cathy Alderman, Vice President of Public Affairs with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Alderman said amendments classifying unborn children as people would affect a woman's right to choose to have an abortion or use birth control. Planned Parenthood has helped write Colorado House Bill 1154 "Violence Against Pregnant Women" which would allow criminal charges against someone who causes the death of a wanted baby through recklessness or criminal activity. The bill has already passed the house and will go before a senate committee next Wednesday. The bill stops short of recognizing fetuses as people.

"Extremely dangerous, extremely violative of a woman's right to make her decisions," Alderman said of fetal personhood.

Heather Surovik intends to keep trying to get the Brady Amendment on the ballot.

"All we're trying to do is just to get people to realize that unborn babies are still people," she said. "They still have rights."

Surovik would need 86,000 signatures on her petition before October to get the Brady Amendment on the ballot for voters to approve or reject.

 

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