February 22, 2013 — The Colorado House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday voted 10-1 to approve a bill (HB 1154) that would create a new category of felony charges for crimes against pregnant women that result in the death of the fetus, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The bill also would repeal the state's criminal abortion statutes. Although the state Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that they are unconstitutional, the Legislature has not removed them.
Currently, Colorado law allows enhanced sentences for crimes against pregnant women that involve the death of the fetus. Additionally, the fetus' death can be considered an aggravating factor in deciding between a life sentence or the death penalty.
According to the AP/Journal-Constitution, lawmakers agree that there should be a separate charge in such cases, but Republicans and Democrats disagree on the details. Although lawmakers said they are trying to avoid a fight over abortion, the legislation has drawn attention from both sides of the abortion debate.
The bill advanced on Tuesday would establish new felony charges for the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. State Rep. Claire Levy (D), a co-sponsor of the bill, said previously failed Republican proposals were "pretty blatantly backdoor routes to personhood." She said the Democratic proposal focuses on punishing the crime against the woman.
State Rep. Bob Gardner (R) said he reluctantly voted in favor of the bill. "I certainly want to see crimes against pregnant women properly prosecuted," he said, noting, "At the same time, I don't want to by legislative declaration somehow lead the people of Colorado to think that we are declaring that a fetus is never, ever entitled to status" (Moreno, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2/19).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.