DENVER – One Republican joined Thursday with Democrats to end a measure that some women said would have shamed women out of having an abortion.
Senate Bill 285 – with Republican sponsorship – would have required an ultrasound be provided to a woman who is considering having an abortion. It also would have required a woman to wait 24 hours after her initial appointment before having the procedure.
The woman would have been offered a photo of the fetus and a description of the fetus’s development, including nerve endings and the ability to feel pain at each stage of development.
Republican Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik of Thornton bucked her party, suggesting that the bill would have actually eroded a woman’s right to liberty. The bill was voted down, 3-2, in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
“I’ve heard time and time again during this legislative session about the protection of liberty and personal responsibility,” Humenik said. “I believe individuals who are females should be able to do that, as well.”
The loss of the bill helps Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, from having to make a tough decision, as now she will not have to vote on the bill.
Several women said it was offensive to have a man sponsor the bill, pointing out that having an abortion is a personal decision for a woman. It was sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton.
Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, came to Neville’s defense, stating, “For those who play a sexist card on us and say it’s a woman’s issue, well, you know what, half of those babies are men.”
Many from the pro-choice world lined up to oppose the bill, saying it aimed at scaring women out of having an abortion.
“SB 285 is what we call a ‘gynotician’ bill,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “A ‘gynotician’ is a politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health-care decisions. ... SB 285 is insulting to Colorado voters and values, to Colorado women, and to Colorado medical providers.”
Some women lawmakers also were offended that supporters of the bill parked a mobile pregnancy counseling clinic, with ultrasound technology, across the street from the Capitol. They suggested that the clinic also should have been targeting men for things like prostate cancer.
But Rick Thielen, chief executive of Colorado-based Life Choices, which operates a mobile clinic and offers women alternatives to abortion, said his organization’s primary goal is to educate.
“We would like to see the amount of abortions go down, and I think even the other side of the aisle would say that they would like (abortions to be) safe and rare,” Thielen said. “But secondly, I think it should be done with information, and we deal with facts that are sourced, scientific; we don’t do opinions ... or manipulate anyone.”