DENVER • A proposed bill that would have made performing almost all abortions a felony was defeated Wednesday by Democrats on a state House Committee.
Few, if any, minds were changed through hours of testimony, it seemed. Democratic members of the House Committee of Health and Insurance killed the bill on a 7-4 party-line vote.
House Bill 1103, proposed by Reps. Steve Humphrey, R-Eaton, and Lori Saine, R-Dacono, died in the House Health and Insurance Committee on a party line 7-4 vote.
Called the Protect Human Life At Conception Bill, it would have made performing an abortion a Class 1 felony. the only exception allowed would have been to prevent a mother’s death, and only after ‘reasonable’ efforts were made to save both lives.
It also would have excused the accidental death of a unborn child during medical treatment of the mother. No exceptions were made for instances of rape or incest.
Humphrey, who had proposed the legislation seven times previously, said the right to life isn’t granted by the government, it’s inherent.
“Why should science be the basis for determining personhood?” he asked.
Dozens testified for and against the bill. The vast majority of those speaking against it were women seeking while far more men testified on behalf of the bill.
“We have seen bills like this before,” said Dwan Riley Duval, executive director of Soul 2 Soul, a Denver faith-based racial justice organization. “Bills attempting to make abortion so expensive or complicated to receive that families, particularly low-income families of color, have great difficulty in obtaining medical care.”
Others argued that a ban wouldn’t stop abortions, it would only stop safe abortions. Desperate pregnant women have always found a way to terminate pregnancies, whether medically safe or not, some bill opponents said.
If the goal is to reduce the number of abortions provided in Colorado, then the Legislature should invest in comprehensive sex education, increase access to contraceptives and offer more health care to immigrant populations, said Claire Leonard.
Dr. Aaron Lazorwitz, an obstetrician-gynecologist, said the bill could have harmed doctor-patient relations, opening medical professionals to criminal charges.
Proponents, however, argued that life begins at conception and should be protected just as a child’s life is protected.
“Life is a gift from God, not a curse,” said Cathy Shera.
Prior to the vote, Rep. Sonya Jaquez-Lewis, D-Boulder, said the bill represented an affront to her rights and she noted that Coloradans have voted down similar proposals multiple times.
“It’s an attack on me as a woman,” she said. “The voters of Colorado have spoken and this is not what they want.”
The bill would have forced “a religious opinion on everyone with no regard for the beliefs of others or the health and welfare of women,” said the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver. “Women are more than reproductive vessels, more than servants of an authoritarian state.”