Bill to protect pregnant women approved
DENVER — A bill to increase penalties for crimes against pregnant women cleared the Colorado Legislature on Friday and is on its way to the governor.
But debate over the measure, HB1154, wasn’t so much over those crimes as it focused on the bill not being a pro-life measure, at least to Republican senators.
To them, a provision in the measure to clarify that an unborn child is not a person is clearly a political attempt at forwarding a Democratic Party pro-choice agenda, GOP senators said.
Democrats, however, said the bill was carefully crafted to take the abortion issue out of the equation.
“This fills an important gap in Colorado law, where very tragic, unfortunate and criminal actions that current statutes and current punishments are inadequate to do justice,” said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, the bill’s Senate sponsor. “It avoids going into the issue of personhood, something Colorado voters have twice overwhelmingly rejected, and sees the harm that is caused to a pregnant woman as something worthy of more severe punishment.”
That argument, however, didn’t wash with 14 of the 15 GOP senators.
Only Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, joined the 20 Democratic senators in favor of the bill, which cleared the House in March on a bipartisan 50-14 vote.
“This bill goes far, far further than that,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch. “For you to come up here and imply that this is nothing more than protecting the unborn child from a drunk driver is a bunch of bull.”
Under the bill, the penalty for the unlawful termination of a pregnancy would increase from a Class 4 felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison, to a Class 3 or 2 felony depending on the circumstances.
A Class 2 felony carries a maximum prison time of 48 years.
The measure also clarifies that a judge may impose consecutive sentences for offenses against the pregnant woman and the unborn child, which could double that maximum prison time.
Republicans, however, were more concerned with two other things the bill does: Repeal the state’s criminal abortion statutes and exempt abortions at the consent of the pregnant woman.
“Protecting human beings is a very important point, and House Bill 1154 does everything it can to not protect human beings waiting to be born,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. “House Bill 1154 manifests extreme indifference to the value of human life because it bends over backwards to deny any legal protection for children waiting to be born.”