Colorado Democrats vote down bill requiring doctors to help babies born-alive after abortion
A Democrat-chaired legislative committee in Colorado has voted down two bills that would have banned late-term abortion and punished doctors who do not attempt to save babies born alive during an abortion procedure.
After seven hours of testimony on Tuesday, the two Republican-backed pieces of legislation were rejected by the Colorado House of Representatives' state Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
The vote came after lawmakers heard personal stories and graphic descriptions of abortion procedures, according to ColoradoPolitics.com.
A bill that would have held doctors accountable for not helping babies born despite an attempted abortion was introduced by Republican state Rep. Shan Sandridge of Colorado Springs. The bill sought to establish a physician-patient relationship between a child born alive and abortion doctors carrying out the abortion.
It would have required abortion doctors to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child” just as any doctor would for any other child born alive.
Doctors who failed to abide by such laws would have been subject to class 3 felony charges and a civil penalty of up to $100,000. A conviction under such a law would also be marked as “unprofessional conduct” for licensing purposes.
As several states have introduced late-term abortion ban bills, House Bill 1098 introduced by Republican state Rep. Dave Williams would have banned abortion in Colorado past 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The bill would have subjected anyone who performs an abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy to class 1 misdemeanor charges.
According to the state politics blog, the committee’s vote in opposition to the bills was along party lines.
Committee Chair Chris Kennedy, a Democrat from Lakewood, argued that Sandridge’s born-alive bill would essentially make a medical decision a crime.
"I do believe the effect of this bill to create a new felony for this kind of action would have the effect of limiting access to abortion in this state," Kennedy contended, according to ColoradoPolitics.com. "I think that is a legitimate concern and a real problem."
The vote drew the ire of conservatives.
“You can always count on Democrats to say they'll protect the little guy, except when the little guys weigh 6 pounds and is 19.5 [inches] long,” tweeted the Colorado GOP House Caucus. “[T]hen the little guy needs to fear for his life.”
The Republican caucus contends that both bills had the support of residents from both sides of the political aisle but neither received a fair hearing from what the GOP calls the “kill committee.”
Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute think tank at Colorado Christian University, also voiced his displeasure. Hunt is also the chairman of the Western Conservative Summit, the largest annual conservative gathering in the Western U.S.
“The Colorado legislature just voted down a bill that would require a doctor to provide medical care to a child who is born alive after surviving an abortion,” Hunt wrote in a tweet. "A child is born, in need of help, and the Colorado legislature voted against mandating care. God have mercy.”
The failure of the Colorado bills comes as about two-dozen states passed pro-life legislation in 2019. Several states passed their own late-term abortion bills. A Georgia bill, blocked by a federal court, prohibited abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
One of the most controversial pro-life bills passed last year was in Alabama, where the state’s Human Life Protection Act makes it a felony to perform abortions except when the life of the mother is in danger. That bill was also blocked by a federal court last fall.
According to Catholic News Agency, several state-level pro-life bills across the country have cleared legislative hurdles in the past week.
At the federal level, Democrat control of the House will make it difficult to get any pro-life legislation passed. However, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear its first abortion-related case since the appointment of two justices by President Donald Trump.
The case surrounds the legality of a Louisiana law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In 2016, the nation’s high court struck down parts of a Texas law that similarly required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital near the clinics where they work in case a patient they performed an abortion on suffers a medical emergency.
“This could be absolutely game-changing,” Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, told The Christian Post of the Louisiana abortion law case.
“It could change the entire landscape of abortion lawsuits and law in America. There are potentially huge ramifications. We don't know what the decision will be and it could be quite limited. But it has huge potential.”
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