DENVER -- In recent years, the legislative push to enable prosecutors to file additional charges when an unborn child is killed in a crime has sparked bipartisan rancor, as Democrats have quashed the GOP's "fetal homicide" measures out of concerns that they would confer "Personhood" upon the unborn.
Colorado voters have twice rejected Personhood measures, which aimed to amend the Constitution to recognize life at the moment of conception; and, last November, voters put Democrats back in charge of the Colorado statehouse.
On Tuesday, a Democratic effort to allow prosecutors a way to file charges over the death of unborn children that avoids the question of Personhood drew near unanimous support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
House Bill 1154, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on a 10-1 vote with only Rep. Jared Wright, R-Fruita, voting no.
"This specifically says, this has nothing to do with Personhood," Foote said of the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act.
"It's crimes against pregnant women. The woman carrying the child is the victim. Before it was called fetal homicide, which could possibly lead to the implementation of Personhood.
"It addresses a gap that's in the criminal code now while preserving a woman's right to choose, her reproductive freedoms."
Foote, a Boulder County prosecutor who's now on leave, recalls a case last year in which District Attorney Stan Garnett was unable to file charges against a drunk driver who crashed into a pregnant mom, causing her to lose her unborn child.
"That particular loss of pregnancy could not be prosecuted," Foote said. "There were other crimes that could be prosecuted, like for DUI; but the loss of pregnancy could not be prosecuted because we don't have that provision in the criminal code."
Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, voted for the bill, although he said House Republicans are annoyed that the Democratic Majority hasn't followed through on Speaker Mark Ferrandino's Opening Day promise of "compromise, consensus and collaboration", at least not on this bill.
"We do need to do this, but it's disappointing the approach the Democrats are taking; it's really sort of slammed down our throats," Gardner said.
"We could have tried to find a compromise on this, but they weren't interested."
H.B. 1154 is headed to the House Appropriations Committee and then on to the full House.