Bill advances for crimes against pregnant women
DENVER — After much ballyhooing by several Republicans in the Colorado House on Friday, only half of them voted against a bill Monday that many said was an attempt by Democrats to push a pro-choice agenda.
Several Republicans who spent hours on the floor of the House railing against parts of HB1154, which creates additional crimes against pregnant women, voted for the bill in the end. Many said they did so because the state needs to do something to protect unborn children.
The measure passed 50-14.
The primary goal behind the measure was to allow district attorneys to file charges in the unplanned terminations of pregnancies, such as in drunken-driving accidents or intentional acts designed to prevent birth.
But Democrats wanted to make sure the bill didn’t provide any legal grounds for declaring an unborn child a person, and added wording saying just that.
It was that wording, which said that no part of the bill would confer the status of “person” to an unborn child, that caused the most problems with some Republicans.
Other Republicans, however, said despite the wording, it was time prosecutors had the authority to file charges when an unborn child is killed.
“We have struggled with the issue of how to deal with crimes against pregnant women,” said Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs. “I am unwilling to pick up the newspaper and hear one more story of a pregnant woman who has been injured in an automobile accident and lost her child, or is the victim of a deliberate crime and loses her child, and to say that we can’t do anything about that in Colorado.”
The measure stems from a legal issue that prevents prosecutors from filing charges in the deaths of unborn children, which was set in law from a 2009 Colorado Court of Appeals case.
In that case, People v. Logan Lester Lage from Mesa County, the 24-year-old Lage struck a car being driven by Shea Lehnen of Collbran, killing her unborn child, Lileigh.
Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger charged Lage with first-degree murder of the child, but the appeals court threw out the case on grounds that the child’s injuries occurred before she was born. As a result, she was not a “person” in the eyes of the law.
The bill now heads to the Senate for more debate.