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Fetal-assault measure fails

By Joe Hanel Herald staff writer

DENVER – A bill to make it illegal to assault unborn children failed Wednesday in a Senate committee.

Overtones of the abortion debate and personhood movement haunted the bill from the start.

House Bill 1130 would have made it a crime to assault or kill “an unborn member of the species homo sapiens.” Prosecutors would not have been able to charge the mother or medical staff who performed an abortion with the mother’s consent.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, voted against the bill, becoming the first Republican to cast a no vote. It passed the House on a party-line vote last month.

The Senate Judiciary Committee killed the bill on a 5-2 vote.

Roberts had signaled last week that she might support the bill if the sponsor, Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, could rewrite it in a way that put both sides at ease.

But Mitchell said he could not reach a compromise between the anti- and pro-abortion rights groups that were lobbying on either side of the bill.

“The positions expressed weren’t moving closer to compromise,” Mitchell said. “I couldn’t find a way to amend it to thread the needle.”

Roberts said she had hoped to see an amendment that would let her vote for the bill.

It doesn’t make sense that a person cannot be charged for assault on a child when he attacks a pregnant woman on her way to deliver a baby, but he could be charged with a crime for an assault the next day when the child is coming home from the hospital, she said.

“I do agree that there is a gap here in our existing law that I would like to see addressed,” she said. “Regrettably, I will be a no vote, and I hope people will try and find that ground that seems to be eluding everybody,”


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