DENVER – A Colorado bill that would have put practitioners who perform abortions in the same criminal category as first-degree murderers, child abusers who cause a child’s death and people charged with treason was among three abortion-related bills killed in a House committee Thursday.
The outcome was to be expected in the Democrat-majority committee chaired by Rep. Joann Ginal, Ph.D., a Fort Collins Democrat who is also a reproductive endocrinologist.
House Bill 1108 would have made it a class 1 felony for practitioners to perform an abortion unless it is intended to save the mother’s life or unless the unborn child dies as a result of medical treatment, such as chemotherapy – putting those practitioners in the same class as Colorado’s worst criminals.
Rep. Steve Humphrey, R-Eaton, said the Democrats’ vote meant they were “out of touch with the shifting public attitudes towards abortion.”
“In the four decades since the Roe v. Wade decision, scientific research has wholly disproved the long-held medical justifications for abortion,” he said in a statement.
The vice chair of the committee, Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, told Denver7 last month it was “a very dangerous idea to target doctors and health providers” with the bill.
“They are providing a medical service and should never be singled out. Abortion is not a crime, it’s a safe and legal procedure,” she told Denver7. “History has shown that banning abortion, or stopping access to safe abortions, is dangerous for women’s lives.”
Democrats on the committee also killed House Bill 1085, which would have required any clinics that provide abortions to register with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. Under the bill, the AG’s Office would have had to inspect each registered clinic at least once a year to be sure the clinics were using sanitary equipment and adhering to special rules also outlined in the bill for abortions performed after 20 weeks of gestation.
House Bill 1086 also died by a 6-5 vote. It would have required practitioners to tell a woman about a process that can be used to reverse “abortion pills” 24 hours before giving a woman the pill, and would require the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to post information on its website about the process.
“Why would we legislate the care a doctor provides a patient?” asked Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver. “I believe doctors should do what they do best: stick with evidence based practices, and politicians should stay out of the doctor’s office.”
Many of the state’s counties do not have abortion clinics, but the state does require only licensed physicians perform abortions, parental consent for women under age 18 to obtain an abortion, and that taxpayer funding for abortions is only provided to preserve a woman’s life or in the case of rape or incest.
The peer-reviewed research group Guttmacher Institute, which researches sexual and reproductive health and rights, found the number of abortions declined by 14 percent between 2011 and 2014, but that there was also a 14 percent decline over that time period in the number of Colorado facilities that provided abortions.