DENVER – Democrats in the Colorado House of Representative made good on opening day promises to not tolerate attacks on women’s rights when they killed a bill Thursday evening which they felt undermined reproductive rights.
House Bill 1086, which would mandate providing women information about ways to reverse chemical abortions, was heard by the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee.
After nearly five hours of testimony, the bill died on a 6-5 party-line vote, with Democrats disputing the viability of research backing the reversal option.
Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, said the lack of scientific support was a serious obstacle for mandating that information. “We searched for data supporting this, and the only thing we could find was a case study that had six cases in it,” Lontine said.
Proponents to this bill argued that women should have all information available to them when making the decision to have a chemical abortion, including the ways in which it can be reversed.
Another issue brought up was that the bill would require doctors to have conversations with their patients rather than allowing them to use their discretion.
In addition to H.B. 1086, House bills 1085 and 1108 were also scheduled to be heard Thursday. H.B. 1085 requires facilities that offer abortions to file registration forms with the attorney general of Colorado, detailing how many procedures they have performed and a list of all the doctors who performed abortions at the facility. H.B. 1108 makes the termination of an unborn child a Class 1 felony.
The bills are among those listed by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains as attacks on women’s reproductive rights, along with H.B. 1099, which mandates that universities must file an annual report showing that they did not engage in the trafficking of aborted human body parts for any purposes.
“Ultimately, the goal of all of these is to mix up the conversation and make it seem like it’s not about the one goal, which is to eliminate access to abortion and to shame women who need that care,” said Ashley Wheeland, legislative and political director of PPRM.
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Franktown, said H.B. 1085 would improve the safety of women who sought abortions by requiring a level of accountability for a high standard of care for these women.
To fulfill the registration requirements of the bill, new positions would have to be created under the attorney general, Neville said. This would result in a growth of government, which is generally frowned upon by Republicans, but Neville said he saw this as a situation where growth was vital to fulfilling a primary duty of state government.
“I think this is an important role of government, to protect our citizens,” he said.
He said there are no regulations on abortion clinics under current statute.
Dr. Emily Schneider, a Denver-based OB-GYN, said this is not true. Facilities which provide abortions already have to comply with a “robust reporting system,” she said.
“As medical providers, we have medical oversight by our state medical licensing boards, our board certification committees and our medical societies,” Schneider said. “This bill creates unnecessary oversight of abortion clinics by the attorney general when higher risk medical procedures in other specialties do not have the same oversight.”
During the hearing, the question was raised about the constitutionality of it and if it was legally defensible.
Denise Maes, public policy director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the bill would detrimentally affect women’s access to abortion, which is a constitutional right and protected by various case law.
“What the Texas case law tells us, what Casey tells us, what Roe v. Wade tells us, and many, many other cases in between tell us, that when you place such a burden, an undue one, it could actually hinder a woman’s access and the availability to an abortion, and that has serious consequences to women,” Maes said.
Testimony for these bills went late into the night, and as of 8:30 p.m., no vote had been cast for H.B. 1085 and the hearing for H.B. 1108 had not begun.