Senate Democrats kill anti-Personhood proposal

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A sea of protestors approach the Capitol Tuesday, angry about Senate Bill 175, which sought to prevent any future efforts to limit abortion.

DENVER — The abortion issue has long been a winner for Colorado Democrats, a wedge used to appeal to women swing voters worried that Republicans might threaten their reproductive rights.

But it is possible to overplay a winning hand, and Senate Democrats proved it this week.

Their proposal, the “Reproductive Health Freedom Act,” ostensibly sought to prevent any future challenges to abortion rights in the state — to do something impossible — in an effort to protect Colorado women from the kind of restrictive laws that have passed in other states: mandatory ultrasound requirements and impossible-to-meet clinic requirements.

Once Denver’s Archbishop and Republicans took note of it, Senate Bill 175 was exposed as an policy idea hatched in fantasyland, a quixotic effort to legislate not just into the future but forever and a blatant ploy to appeal to women at the end of this election-year legislative session.

Initially set to be debated Tuesday, the bill was put off because one Democratic lawmaker went home sick, leaving Democrats without the 18 votes needed to advance the bill.

On Wednesday night, with all 18 Democrats in the chamber, the bill was postponed indefinitely — killed, in a word — by the sponsor, who avoided what would have been a lengthy floor debate and blamed the decision on Republicans promising to filibuster the measure and bog down the Senate calendar.

Republicans in the Senate vehemently deny that they planned to filibuster or that any conversations took place.

“They’re looking for a scapegoat,” one said.

Three hours after the move to kill S.B. 175, Senate President Morgan Carroll issued a statement, echoing Kerr’s frustration with Republicans and putting the bill in the context of the state’s ongoing personhood debate.

“This session started with a Republican sponsored bill on personhood – an initiative defeated three times by voters,” Carroll said. “We were hopeful that the Republicans would come on board with a proposal that would ensure all women are able to make private and personal reproductive health decisions with freedom from government interference.  But we are disappointed that we were unable to get bi-partisan support to acknowledge and uphold the values of the majority of Coloradans.

“With 21 days left in the legislative session and 269 bills still pending, having a GOP filibuster would bring D.C. style dysfunction to Colorado,” she continued. “We have made our point, and in the interest of getting the remaining work done on education, jobs, higher education affordability and childcare, we laid the bill over.”

Democrats also had to realize that politically this effort had backfired, riling up conservatives across the state at the end of a session that has been the opposite of last year’s, a session in which hardly any bill debated inside the Capitol drew much of a reaction outside the building.

That was just what Democrats wanted, heading into the fall campaign season.

While the bill lit a fire with some pro-life conservatives, it may have galvanized progressives too, allowing Kerr and Sen. Jeanne Nicholson, D-BlackHawk, who both face tough reelection challenges that could determine which party controls the chamber next year, a chance to underline their commitment to a woman’s right to choose.

Kerr can rightly claim public support for pro-choice policies in a state that has twice rejected personhood measures by sweeping margins.

But that, too, makes the Democrats’ decision to push this bill a bit of a head-scratcher: abortion rights are not being threatened in Colorado, nor are they likely to be successfully rolled back any time soon.

The legislation is dead, but the messaging war is just underway.

“We’d like to thank our bill sponsors, Sen Kerr and Sen Nicholson, for advocating for the rights of Colorado women to make their own private, personal medical decisions without government interference,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, who blamed Republicans for distorting what she believes was a solid bill.

“We’re disappointed that a bill that protected the privacy rights of Coloradans and reflected the will of Colorado voters was so distorted and politicized by the opponents. We believe mainstream Colorado values can and should be reflected in our laws, which is what SB 175 did.”


  • Hal Landry

    Hey Republicans. As long as you continue to try and impose your version of morality on the rest of us, you’re going to have a hard time gaining ground. Middle of the road voters don’t want elected officials making legislation based upon their on personal beliefs.

    • Matthew Berg (@wnyconservative)

      Hey Democrats. Thanks for the advice, but a majority of Americans believe abortion should legal “only in a few” circumstances or not at all. And our side has been gaining ground for over twenty years.

      Middle of the road voters aren’t emotionally invested in killing the unborn.

    • Dawn Kinsey-Jeffers

      Hey Demoncraps, murder IS considered immoral- it’s not just “our” version of morality. However, if only it could be known that the babies would be future vile liberals- that may be one acceptable factor for abortion…..

    • Dick Peabody

      Really Hal? You don’t believe that America was founded on Judeo-Christian values that prohibited murder? You don’t believe that killing an unborn child is murder? Is a fetus alive? Is a fetus human? Then how can abortion NOT be murder?. And yet you claim Repubs are wrong to “impose their morality” on folks like you? Is that what it is? or is it really GOD saying you must not do this? But you don’t believe in God do you? So WHO is in charge of saying what is right and wrong if not God? You? The marxist Democrats? This is how evil survives.

  • Dick Peabody

    Senators Kerr and Nicholson, both Jeffco “teachers,” wish to kill a percentage of the babies they would ostensibly indoctrinate as children in Marxist values which include killing the unborn, redistribution of income, crony capitalism, and gun confiscation. These two should lose their positions of destruction of American values and be voted OUT!

  • dapandico

    Why have liberals been renamed “progressives”? Why can’t Eli put Abortion in the headline?? Pandering to the LIV’s.

  • Gen Schneider

    While I can understand why they chose to kill the bill, I am still saddened that this bill will not hit the floor for debate. Women, just like men, are smart and responsible enough to make their own reproductive decisions. This is an issue that should only be between the patient and their doctor.

    On another note, if we would dedicate more tax money to prevent unwanted pregnancy then the number of abortions would decrease. It has also been shown that for every $1 spent on providing birth control to low income women taxpayers are saved $4.

    Maybe instead of arguing about how much of a nanny state women need to be under we should support them in other reproductive choices. If we ensure women have easy access to low cost, long lasting contraceptive options we can recognize a goal of both the pro-choice and the pro-birth movement…the reduction of abortions. Can we work together towards this one common goal?

    • Dick Peabody

      Geez Gen, just how much does a pack of rubbers or a box of foam cost nowadays? Let’s get real, this bill wasn’t about “freedom” as most people define it, it was about killing a baby at any stage of development, even at 39 weeks, as did convicted murderer and abortionist, Kermit Gosnell. And it was about allowing a 14 y.o. girl to get an abortion without her parents being notified. Andy Kerr and Jeanne Nicholson are scum of the earth.

  • Gen Schneider

    Actually, if you would have read the bill it did not take away parental notification nor did it change any current regulation Colorado has pertaining to abortion. If you disagree, Dick Peabody, please feel free to cite your source and we can discuss it.

    As for your flippant remark about condoms and spermicide, what happens when that condom breaks? The most reliable and responsible contraception for women is one that works with the woman’s hormonal system. Using both a barrier method (condom) and an internal method (IUD, the pill, Depo shot, implants) would be the best way to reduce the amount of unintended pregnancies. With a reduction of unintended pregnancies there would obviously be a reduction in abortions.

    • Dick Peabody

      Dear Gen,
      Actually if YOU would READ the bill, and if you comprehended the language, you would see it nullifies parental notification and any “intereference from the state” in matters that the sponsors call “reproductive health care decisions.” As for your assertion that I’ve been flippant about the low cost of birth control I can only respond by pointing out for others the absurdity of your position. Taxpayers not only do NOT owe you or Sandra Fluck payment for your choice of birth control but citizens have the right to determine that abortion is the murder of a living human being and not just a “reproductive decision” as you euphemistically call it. As for my source of the bill’s language, try this link:$FILE/175_01.pdf

  • Fast45

    The Democrats are exposed (again) for creating a debate, where none really existed.

    The conservatives, mostly Republicans, are crowing like roosters (again) about an issue that places them in the clear minority.

    I think, sadly, that the Dems will gain from this. The overwhelming majority of voters agree with them on the abortion issue … Repubs should find something else to hang their hats upon. Repubs can “believe” they are “right” all they want … It will do them zero good, if they aren’t electable because of their support for something that the voters clearly have decided.

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