DENVER (KDVR) — After a nearly 24-hour debate between Democrats and Republicans over a highly disputed abortion bill, the Reproductive Health Equity Act advanced Saturday morning.
HB22-1279 is a health care act sponsored by Rep. Meg Froelich, Rep. Daneya Esgar and Rep. Julie Gonzales. The debate on the act began at 10:53 a.m. Friday and lasted until it passed on a preliminary voice vote at 10:18 a.m. Saturday morning.
Sitting at almost a full day length, this debate was the longest in the House’s history.
“I am incredibly proud of the work that we did the past 24 hours to secure the right for Colorado women to have a choice when it comes to their reproductive health care,” Esgar said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s amazing to be able to do this for the women for Colorado, but the fact that we have to do this is the part that doesn’t make me excited.”
According to the sponsors, “The bill, declares that every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”
The bill would also prohibit state and local entities from denying, restricting or interfering with a person’s decision about contraceptives and pregnancy.
The introduction of this bill comes after Texas republicans passed legislation banning abortion after six weeks before many women even know they are pregnant.
The highly contested bill brought arguments from both sides of the aisle. Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown released a statement following the debate.
“This legislation would remove parental notification in Colorado law, allow partial-birth abortion, and protect infanticide. It’s disgusting and should have been defeated,” Brown said. “We are the pro-life party and freedom begins with the freedom to live. Equal rights are not equal until they extend to every human being. We will never stop working to protect the rights of the unborn.”
The pro-life crowd on the steps of the Capitol Saturday chanted and held signs in opposition to the bill.
Donald Kent, who was present at the rally, said, “this bill is unacceptable. I think all sides should be able to agree on a viability at a minimum.”
“This is a non-partisan issue, this is a human rights issue,” a woman at the rally said. “If a child can survive outside of the womb, why do you have a right to end that life.”
Democrats hold a majority in the House, therefore the bill was expected to pass.
“We’re protecting abortion rights in Colorado, and we’re not backing down,” said Rep. Meg Froelich. “Extreme GOP ideologies, some of which were previewed in the debate tonight, would put the government in control of personal medical decisions. This bill protects our right to safe reproductive care for generations to come. While there is more work to be done, I am extremely proud of my colleagues who spoke in favor of this bill with personal, powerful stories.”
We reached out to Republican members of the House about this bill and what’s next, but they’ve yet to respond to our request.
The vote was a voice vote but Monday will be the final recorded vote, which is expected to be along party lines.