Republican lawmakers in Colorado’s legislature introduced two anti-abortion bills at the beginning of the 2020 legislative session last week, one of which would ban nearly all abortions, and one that draws upon conservative’s scare tactics around abortions that occur later in pregnancy.
The Protect Human Life at Conception Act has been introduced in Colorado’s legislature for the past several years and would ban nearly all abortion by defining human life as beginning at conception, classifying abortion as a class 1 felony punishable by life imprisonment or death. The legislation contains no exceptions for rape, incest, or to preserve the patient’s health, allowing abortion only in cases where it’s absolutely necessary to save the patient’s life.
The bill, which is even more extreme than the highly controversial abortion ban passed by Georgia lawmakers last year, has been blocked year after year by Democrats in Colorado’s General Assembly.
Another bill, which has never before been introduced in Colorado, concerns the extremely unlikely scenario in which a baby is born alive following a failed abortion attempt, and would penalize doctors who don’t offer adequate medical care to that baby.
Doctors say that such an event, in which an infant born alive after an attempted abortion is denied medical care, simply doesn’t occur.
In an interview last year with the Colorado Times Recorder regarding similar federal legislation dubbed the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” Dr. Rebecca Cohen, a Denver-area OBGYN, said, “They’re taking this event that is essentially imaginary, presenting it as normal, and using it as a way to limit access to abortion.”
“They’re just putting these horrific images in people’s minds of things that don’t happen,” she added.
The legislation comes as conservative rhetoric and misinformation around abortions that occur later in pregnancy continues to escalate. President Donald Trump has focused on later abortions throughout his presidency and on the campaign trail, describing them in grotesque and often inaccurate terms.
“In the ninth month you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother, just prior to the birth of the baby,” Trump said during a debate in 2016. “In the ninth month. On the final day.”
Ever since Trump’s comment, and since New York loosened regulations around third-trimester abortions to allow them if the patient’s health is at risk or if the fetus isn’t viable, conservative lawmakers and thought-leaders have been increasingly focused on the issue.
“These are people who don’t provide abortion care and don’t understand the circumstances that later abortions occur under, and don’t understand the incredible pain that they are causing to women in these difficult circumstances,” said Cohen. “A healthy woman and a healthy pregnancy is not going to be seeking and is not going to be offered an abortion that late in pregnancy.”
Colorado is one of just a few states with no laws restricting abortions into the third trimester, although conservative activists are currently attempting to place a 22-week abortion ban on Colorado’s November 2020 ballot.
As I reported in an article for Jezebel, Colorado is a safe haven for people who decide to terminate wanted pregnancies after being diagnosed with catastrophic fetal anomalies. Later abortion providers in the state also offer this care to patients facing other critical issues like addiction, mental health concerns, domestic violence, and more.
Some of the staunchest social conservatives in Colorado’s legislature are leading the charge for anti-abortion laws. State Reps. Lori Saine (R-Firestone) and Stephen Humphrey (R-Severance) and state Sen. Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) are prime sponsors for the bill to ban all abortions.
State Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs) and state Sen. Rob Woodward (R-Loveland) are pushing the bill concerning failed abortions resulting in infants born alive.