The following is a testimony against Colorado House Bill 1183, which would force abortion providers to collect personal and sensitive information from patients, including one’s reasons for getting an abortion, to be compiled in a public report. The bill failed to advance yesterday following a legislative hearing that ran late into the evening.
My name is Christy Powell and I submitted the following testimony against House Bill 1183 on behalf of myself to the House Health and Insurance committee that heard the bill last night. I wasn’t able to testify live because I needed to parent my children. I am here to tell you why I had an abortion in 2011 since it appears very important to the bill sponsors.
But before I do that, I have a few observations to make about House Bill 1183 and some recommendations for how to improve it when it will surely be brought back again next year. I did some research in advance of the hearing in search of what I assumed must be several other Colorado laws requiring a public government registry of medical procedures. Shockingly, I could not find any. So, since I know it is important for lawmakers to be consistent in their application and additions to our state laws, I wanted to humbly advise that the future iterations of the bill be amended in the following ways:
· Sponsors should add language requiring doctors to collect, summarize and publish all available data on the ages, educational attainment and income levels of men seeking prescriptions for erectile dysfunction;
· Please ensure that men seeking vasectomies describe to their physicians the number of children they have previously fathered, whether they have “paternal health considerations,” and how they intend to pay for the procedure;
· Doctors should be required to get detailed, meticulous data from their male patients about the frequency and manner of all ejaculations which they undertake – or, if the sponsors prefer, they could call it “Induced Secretion of Male Reproductive Material” – because, if there’s anything the sponsors believe in, it’s that data is really important.
Something else I noticed during my research in advance of this hearing was the fact that nearly the entire House Republican caucus signed on to this government surveillance bill. That surprised me given the past comments by many of them in opposition to the state collecting data on, for example, families who choose not to fully vaccinate their children or, say, people who purchase assault weapons.
The fact remains that House Bill 1183 is one of the least “conservative” bills imaginable and the proposed policy flies in the face of the principle of “small government” that so many Republicans claim to espouse. Controlling women’s choices and controlling women’s bodies are more important than any other principle, evidently, for the 20 House Republicans who put their names on this bill. That includes all of the representatives on this committee and House Minority Leader Hugh McKean.
If the sponsors of this bill wanted to “understand” why women get abortions, or if they wanted to reduce the number of abortions that take place, there are a number of legislative actions they could take to help reach that goal. They would support efforts to make childcare more affordable, they would support policies to protect pregnant women from workplace discrimination, they would support equal pay to reduce economic pressure, and they would support family leave and maternal leave to allow parents the ability to heal and care for children they choose to bring into this world. But instead, many of the same sponsors of House Bill 1183 have refused to support those policies. They choose to spend their capital on stigmatization.
Thankfully, for me and everyone else in this state who is able to become pregnant, we live in Colorado and this bill has no chance of becoming law this year. But it is a grim reminder yet again that we are always one election away from this type of legislation becoming law here. So in that regard, I want to thank the sponsors for making crystal clear the type of leadership you would bring and why those of us who care about reproductive rights, personal privacy, and our right to control our own bodies need to keep you in the minority.
I will wrap up my testimony by coming back to my initial point, which is to say that the reason I had an abortion in 2011 is absolutely none of your business and all of the sponsors of this bill should be ashamed of themselves. Please vote no (next year).
Powell is a political researcher and reproductive rights advocate. She lives in the Denver area with her family.