Colorado Democrats delay abortion-rights vote; hundreds rally at Capitol in protest against SB175

DENVER - Colorado Democrats proposed an election-year measure to strengthen abortion rights. But they delayed a vote on their proposal Tuesday after a senator's illness put the bill's outcome in question.

The Senate was scheduled to debate Senate Bill 175, a measure to guarantee that state or local policies won't interfere with reproductive decisions such as abortion and contraception.

But with a one-seat majority, Democrats were unable to vote on the measure as planned Tuesday when a Democrat left because he fell ill.

The bill would also draw election-year contrasts on a divisive measure where Democrats think the public is on their side. It's a symbolic measure because future lawmakers could change it.

The bill faced scrutiny after the archbishop of Denver sent out a letter asking people to take action against it.

READ THE LETTER: http://ch7ne.ws/1iQpLZY

Hundreds of religious conservatives responded by rallying on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday in protest.

State senators Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk, and Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, are sponsors of the one paragraph bill.

"I think it's fair to call it the freedom to make your own decisions about your reproductive health bill," said Nicholson.

She said it would keep Colorado from enacting any law that "interferes with an individual's reproductive health care decisions."

"It underlines and makes sure that we are protecting the freedom and the privacy around what should be a decision between a woman and her doctor," said Kerr.

Jennifer Kraska is the executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, which deals with public policy on behalf of the Catholic Church. She said the bill would prohibit the state or any unit of local government from every being able to pass good common sense legislation regarding, not only abortion, but anything as defined as reproductive health care in the bill.

"There's also a question of whether it takes away the ability of current laws to stay in place, such as our parental notification law," said Kraska.

If passed, the bill could be repealed by future lawmakers, making it more ceremonial than binding.

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