To avoid defeat, sponsor delays fetal-homicide bill

DENVER – Facing imminent defeat, the sponsor of a bill that would make it a crime to assault or kill an unborn child asked for a week’s delay on the vote.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, was poised to vote for the bill, after spending much of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing asking questions and offering ideas to improve it.

But the sponsor, Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, asked to have House Bill 1130 pulled for a week in the hopes of rewriting it to attract at least one Democratic vote.

Roberts wondered about the bill’s language that makes it a crime to injure or kill “an unborn member of the species homo spaien.”

“What other species would someone be carrying?” Roberts asked.

“That’s a good question,” Mitchell replied.

Roberts also was troubled that, unlike most other states with similar laws, Mitchell’s bill would allow defendants to be charged with crimes against an unborn child even if they did not know the woman was pregnant.

Backers insisted the bill was not about abortion. But witnesses on both sides are familiar players in the abortion debate. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain sent a lawyer to testify against the bill, while Colorado Right to Life sent witnesses in favor.

Mitchell said 34 other states have laws against harming unborn children.

“It’s a simple bill. It’s a simple concept. It’s a raging and complex debate in society because some people would rather cling to symbolic ground and resist anything that shows respect for a developing being,” Mitchell said.

Kevin Paul, lawyer for Planned Parenthood, said no other state uses legal language similar to what HB 1130 contains. He also said the bill would open the door to legal “personhood” for unborn children – a concept Colorado voters have rejected twice.

“There is simply no way you could adopt this bill without adopting that concept,” Paul said.

The bill would amend the section of Colorado law dealing with “crimes against persons.”

Ed Hanks of Colorado Conservative Action said the bill was “100 percent non-controversial.”

“There is no war on women here,” Hanks said. “This is a struggle to protect women and their children.”

HB 1130 already had passed the House on a 33-32, party-line vote.

A new hearing for the bill has not been scheduled.

jhanel@durangoherald.com

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