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Dems quash GOP’s fetal Personhood bill – again

Opponents of a Personhood amendment rallying on the steps of the Colorado Capitol in 2012.

Opponents of a Personhood amendment rallying on the steps of the Colorado Capitol in 2012.

DENVER — It was a “Throwback Thursday” in the House Judiciary Committee meeting as lawmakers returned, as they do seemingly every year, to a discussion of abortion and “personhood” — the question of what kind of rights to extend to the unborn.

Once again, Democrats who continue to control the House, voted down a measure that aimed to broaden state statutes so that an unborn child killed as the result of a criminal act will be recognized as the victim of that crime.

The vote, in a shock to absolutely no one, was right down party lines: 4-6, with all the panel’s Democrats voting against the measure and all of its Republicans voting yes.

Personhood, Democrats were again eager to point out, has twice been overwhelmingly rejected Colorado voters.

“The decision about what to do with my body is my decision,” Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, said. “This is personhood all over again. It says ‘species homo sapiens’ right in it. Been there, done that, and we just don’t need to go there again. The people of this state have spoken.”

House Bill 1049 would have made “death or injury to an unborn member of the species homo sapiens” punishable as a homicide or assault.

Democrats and Republicans differed on whether that would threaten a woman’s access to reproductive services.

“This bill is about criminal justice,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs. “This bill is about protecting women and giving their unborn children protection under the law.”

Democrats on the committee noted that last year’s passage of the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act was an effort by Democrats to allow prosecutors to seek justice for the deaths of unborn children without impacting women’s reproductive rights.

“It enhanced the crime against the mother,” countered Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, who supported H.B. 1049. “But it created no crime against the fetus.

“In liberal California, they grant victim status to the fetus. In Colorado, a Scott Peterson could not be charged with the death of his unborn child — with double homicide, one charge for Lacey and one for his unborn child.”

While the bill sponsor professed that the bill has nothing to do with abortion rights, its supporters based their arguments in support of it on their belief that a fertilized egg is a “person.”

“An unborn child is a person,” said Robert Fortune, representing the Life Network of Colorado Springs. “Period.”

Committee Chairman Daniel Kagan, D-Denver, informed witnesses that it’s already a felony crime to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy.

And a practicing obstetrician testified that the bill could impact women’s reproductive rights.

“As a physicians, HB 1049 interferes with my ability to legally provide patient care,” said Dr. Jennifer Hyer. “I’ve seen situations when a woman’s pregnancy is a threat to her life, including sepsis and hemorrhage. I’ve seen ectopic or tubal pregnancies where the fetus implants in the fallopian tube, not the uterus. In all of these situations, if the fetus is not removed from the mother, the woman could die.

“As a physician, HB 1049 would force me into an impossible situation,” she continued. “And there is nothing in HB 1049 that would stop me or any other physician for being prosecuted for performing an abortion, even if it’s to save a woman’s life.

“It shouldn’t be the role of politicians to tell me and my patients what kind of procedures I should use or what kind of medicine I should practice. Women have to decide for themselves whether to continue a pregnancy or not. Forcing a woman with pregnancy complications or forcing a woman with an unintended pregnancy to have a child she doesn’t want isn’t in anyone’s best interests.”

8 comments

  • Drew Hymer

    Dr. Hyer is a liar. Saving a woman’s life isn’t a crime, so it wouldn’t be prosecutable under HB 1049. Even standard run-of-the-mill baby-killing wouldn’t be prosecutable because abortion isn’t “a criminal act” in Colorado law.

    Mr. Stokols reporting is grossly negligent for quoting Dr. Hyer’s obvious lies as if they have any credibility.

  • Susan Sutherland

    Why in the heck is Ms Hyer talking about ectopic pregnancies, sepsis and her own private practice? This bill has nothing to do with anything she responded to. She’s TOTALLY off topic as this bill has to do with Fetal Homicide. She has willfully chosen to completely miss the point. It would be more profitable to have an honest discussion.

  • Fast45

    Once again … the Dems appear to be doing what the majority wants.

    When will the Repubs stop snuffing women’s rights, debating evolution, and alienating that majority? Dems are largely weak and spineless … but Repubs seem to try their hardest, to defeat themselves. Sad for us …

    • Anja Zapota (@AnjaZapota)

      Kudos to the democrats who stand up to the irresponsible actions by the ignorant republicans and religious bigots who keep pushing these nonsense bills. A fetus is not a person and to make is so is would create a legal and moral nightmare as well as making the women a slave. Also, Dr Hyer is spot on about the problems this will cause as has been proven mousiness times in just the last few weeks.

  • D.R. Commish

    “Fast”…. We ‘Repubs” just figure its in our best interest to speak for those who cannot, fight for those who cannot, and attempt to save these children while they are in their most vulnerable state… we figure they have some “rights” as well.
    You “Libs” seem to only want to “help” those, whom you think will vote for you. Never caring about their life, perpetual poverty, and regardless of unintended consequences.
    That’s just very sad.

  • Fast45

    D.R. Commish … I frequently enjoy your thoughtful and enightening posts; I am certainly no liberal. Regardless of my own personal view about abortion, my point earlier is simply that the Repubs cannot win by superimposing their beliefs upon the clear majority who does not share them. Speaking for those who cannot speak, or saving the most vulnerable? Neither group votes.

    Who cares how a small number of people passionately feel about anything? In business, and in politics, success depends on selling something to everybody. I strongly dislike the current cultural and political trends. I wish a strong Repub or independent leader might emerge touting leadership and fiscal responsibility, to put an end to the liberal and even communistic ideals espoused by Obama and crew.

    It will do none of us any good, to be “right” about whatever issue … if they cannot be elected because others do not feel likewise. Screw being “right.”

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