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Pro-Choice Advocates Face Challenges in Legislature

PHOTO: The so-called "fetal homicide" bill that cleared the Colorado Senate will be heard by the house today. Photo credit: Eric Galatas.
PHOTO: The so-called "fetal homicide" bill that cleared the Colorado Senate will be heard by the house today. Photo credit: Eric Galatas.
May 4, 2015

DENVER - The Colorado house will hear the so-called "fetal homicide" bill today. Supporters say the bill, which cleared the senate last week, will address crimes like one committed against a pregnant woman in Longmont.

Gena Ozols, political director with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, says the state already has the gold standard of laws protecting women in the "Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act," and the Longmont woman accused in the attack already faces over 100 years in prison.

"This is a blatant politicization of a horrifying tragedy that happened in Colorado that they're trying to use to put forth personhood," says Ozols. "This does not protect pregnant women, but instead is a backdoor way of establishing personhood in Colorado criminal code."

Ozols points out that passing legislation defining personhood as beginning at conception has long been a tactic by anti-abortion strategists seeking to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court's "Roe v. Wade" decision of the 1970s. Proponents of the bill say it has nothing to do with the abortion debate. Colorado voters have rejected a number of ballot measures to define a fetus as a person, most recently in 2014.

Ozols says it's been a tough session for women's reproductive rights. Last week a late bill was introduced with a reassuring title: "A Woman's Right To Accurate Healthcare Information."

It would have forced intrusive sonogram procedures and created other barriers for women seeking abortions. That bill was narrowly defeated in committee. At the same time, a bill passed by the house to continue funding contraception for young, low-income women was rejected by the senate.

"Senate Republicans have been forcing a lot of legislation that has been not good for women," Ozols says. "While they have been completely neglecting proven legislation that has helped women, including lowering unintended pregnancies as well as saving the state of Colorado money."

Ozols says HB-1194, killed by the senate, would have funded the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, which has a proven track record for reducing abortion and teen pregnancy. According to the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, the program cut costs from unintended pregnancies by between $49 million and $111 million a year.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO