The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R), would have made it a Class 3 felony for any health care provider to end a pregnancy, which the bill defined as beginning at the moment an egg is fertilized. Women obtaining abortions would not be prosecuted under the proposal (Schrader, Colorado Springs Gazette, 3/11).
The bill would only permit exceptions if the woman's life was in danger or if a physician "provides medical treatment to the mother that results in the accidental or unintentional injury or death to the unborn child" (Denver Post, 3/12).
The state House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill prior to rejecting it in a 9-2 vote, with two Republican lawmakers joining seven committee Democrats in voting against the bill.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the two Republican lawmakers -- state Reps. Mark Waller and Bob Gardner -- said they voted against the measure because it would unconstitutionally ban abortion prior to fetal viability. However, both lawmakers said that they would have voted for the bill if it banned abortion after fetal viability, with Gardner going so far as to propose an amendment to that effect.
However, Committee Chair Daniel Kagan (D) rejected the amendment, noting that it could not be voted on because it did not fit under the bill's title -- "Protecting Human Life Beginning at Conception" -- as required by legislative rules. In addition, Humphrey said that he would not support the amendment.
The Gazette notes that Colorado voters have rejected ballot measures that would have defined life as beginning at fertilization. State Rep. Pete Lee (D) said, "I think the clear message from the voters of the state of Colorado is that they do not want to have laws such as this" (Colorado Springs Gazette, 3/11).
Abortion-Rights Supporters Hold Rally
Meanwhile, abortion-rights supporters held a rally outside the state Capitol prior to the hearing.
NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Director Karen Middleton said it is important to call attention to legislation like Humphrey's because state governments have enacted a wave of abortion restrictions in the past few years. Restrictions like those in Texas and other states "could happen here." She added, "This is a bill that has been introduced in the past and will likely be introduced again. It could get through, maybe not this year, but next year ... Voters have to take note" (Tomasic, Colorado Independent, 3/11).