Lawmakers brace for lengthy debate over abortion access bill
DENVER — After a 14-hour committee debate in which hundreds of people signed up to testify, Colorado lawmakers faced another long day of discussion Friday on a bill to ensure access to abortion in the state.
House Bill 22-1279 does three main things:
- It guarantees a person’s right to use or not to use contraception
- He says abortions are legal in the state
- It prohibits state and local entities from denying, interfering with, or discriminating against someone who is having an abortion
- It prohibits state and local entities from prosecuting or punishing someone who has an abortion
While the public had a chance to weigh in on the merits of the bill during the committee hearing, Friday’s debate provided an opportunity for state lawmakers to speak at length about their thoughts on the bill.
The debate began shortly before 11 a.m. on the floor of the House.
For the co-sponsors of the bill, this is the right solution at the right time. Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Arapahoe, is a key sponsor of the bill, and she said Democrats spent a lot of time talking to stakeholders and crafting a bill they believe works.
“We will go into the night, and we will hear all kinds of arguments about why this is not the answer, but we already know that a significant number of us think now is the time and this is the time and this is the bill,” Froelich said.
During the House debate, lawmakers took the time to share personal stories about what this bill and abortion access mean to them. Representative Andrew Boesenecker has shared publicly for the first time that he and his wife made the difficult decision to have an abortion for their third child after doctors told them the fetus had no heartbeat.
Boesenecker said it was a fear he always had a parent and now his fear is that without a bill like this other families won’t have the change to make a similar decision if they need it.
Representative Hugh McKean, meanwhile, shared a story about the decision he and his ex-wife made to have their daughter despite being told by doctors that she would have severe heart defects.
Lawmakers debated the legality of the bill, the need for the bill, and its overall merits.
“Ultimately, it comes down to what will bring life and prosperity to Colorado. This is what we all want, I believe both sides of the aisle want to see life and want to see it prosper. The question is, what does it look like? said Rep. Stephanie Luck, R-Fremont. “Our side would say that women deserve better than abortion.”
Luck said she felt this was the wrong debate. She thinks voters or local governments should have the right to choose whether this is something they want to see codified in law.
She is also concerned about the lack of safeguards that this bill places on abortion. There is no stipulation in the bill as to why a pregnant person can seek an abortion or how far away she can be when she gets one.
“What this bill says is that it is okay to abort a child because there is no sex, because he has a disability, because he is of the wrong breed. This is not life. For me, it’s not flourishing. And it doesn’t advance the values that I think Coloradans supports,” Luck said.
She wants at least three serious changes to the bill: remove references to abortion and let the rest of the bill work, allow local communities to decide, and insert a petition clause so voters can challenge the bill. law before it is passed. in force.
Republicans also have concerns about early life and whether this bill will affect current state laws for parents to be notified if their child seeks an abortion.
Froelich, however, insisted that this bill will not affect parental notification law and is legally valid.
“We really designed the bill to be amendment proof, so no amendments were needed. We are strongly involved in it. Obviously, there is a huge rift between the two sides and so we cannot concede something of faith and enshrine it in law,” she said. “We feel like we have a very tight legal argument in our bill.”
Even so, Froelich said she will listen to what her colleagues opposite have to say to see if any of their proposals will work with the spirit of the bill.
The bill is expected to pass the House despite the lengthy debate and possibly pass the Senate next week.