Colorado Legislator: HIV Testing for Pregnant Moms Rewards “Sexual Promiscuity”

Colorado Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen.
Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV
tests for pregnant women because the disease "stems from sexual
promiscuity" and he didn’t think the Legislature should "remove the
negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and
unacceptable behavior." The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to
cast the lone vote against SB-179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.

"HIV does not just come from sexual promiscuity, it comes from many
other things – contaminated blood, for one," fired back one of the
bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lois Tochtrop, after Schultheis spoke on the
Senate floor.

"What this bill will do and why it’s so important to test the woman
when she is pregnant – if she is HIV-positive, treatment is started
immediately to protect the baby, the unborn baby," the Thornton
Democrat, who is also a nurse, said.

Listen to Schultheis and Tochtrop here.

Reaction to Schultheis’ remarks rippled through the Capitol.

"Sen. Schultheis drew the conclusion that anyone who may have HIV is
sexually promiscuous," said Sen. Jennifer Veiga, a Denver Democrat and
the Legislature’s only openly lesbian member. "I find that offensive in
the context of this bill and I find it offensive in the context of the
gay community."

"I think (Sen. Schultheis) owes the (Legislature) and the public at large an apology," Veiga said.

She castigated the GOP for staying silent when its legislators make
outrageous points during debates on bills. "Republicans continue to
allow comments like this to go unchecked," she said, referencing
statements made Monday when Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe compared homosexuality to murder
in a debate over a bill sponsored by Veiga to expand health benefits to
same-sex partners of state employees. "They quietly sit by and

The Colorado Republican Party didn’t return a call seeking comment on Renfroe’s and Schultheis’ remarks.

"They absolutely should call Sen. Schultheis on his comments and the
inappropriateness of his comments, as they should have done with Sen.
Renfroe two days ago," Veiga said. "Even Gov. Owens distanced himself
and called to task members of his own party" when they go over the
line, Veiga said.

Here’s a transcript, prepared by The Colorado Independent, of what Schultheis said:

Thank you, Madam President. You know, this was a
difficult bill for me. I voted yes in committee on it because of
discussions surrounding the fact that – well, let me just basically say
this, it basically modifies the communicable disease laws and it
requires the health care providers to test pregnant women for HIV
unless they opt out. And that’s basically, that’s the main part of this
bill. I voted yes on it. I was a little bit troubled with my vote and
was just wondering what was bothering me. I woke up the next morning –
Thursday morning – at 5 a.m. and I wrestled with this bill for another
hour from 5 to 6 and finally came to the conclusion I’m going to be a
no vote on this. I’m trying to think through what the role of
government is here. And I am not convinced that part of the role of
government should be to protect individuals from the negative
consequences of their actions.

Sexual promiscuity, we know, causes a lot of problems in our state,
one of which, obviously, is the contraction of HIV. And we have other
programs that deal with the negative consequences – we put up part of
our high schools where we allow students maybe 13 years old who put
their child in a small daycare center there.

We do things continually to remove the negative consequences that
take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior, quite frankly,
and I don’t think that’s the role of this body.

As a result of that I finally came to the conclusion I would have to
be a no vote on this because this stems from sexual promiscuity for the
most part, and I just can’t vote on this bill and I wanted to explain
to this body why I was going to be a no vote on this.

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  • emily-douglas

    What Sen. Schultheis said is deplorable — he is clearly stating that contracting HIV (and, because this bill target pregnant women, passing HIV on to a newborn) is a fair price to be paid for violating his sexual moral standard. That said, I would oppose this bill too. To force women, or anyone, to undergo medical treatment is battery. This is paternalism similar to anti-choice laws, and will result in similar fetal rights arguments.

  • wendy-norris

    Sen. Schultheis’ ignorance is stunning not only in his assumption that a pregnant woman is a trollop but that married women are not at risk for contracting HIV through any number of methods. For an avowed and absolutist anti-abortion activist, Sen. Schultheis displays a horrifying disregard for the health of women and children.


    To your concern Emily about forced testing, the language in SB 179, which addresses a broad spectrum of communicable disease control of HIV/AIDS, TB, STIs and agency definitions, includes an opt-out clause:

    Requires health care providers providing care to a pregnant
    woman during gestation, or hospitals where a pregnant
    woman presents for delivery, to test the woman for HIV if
    she has not previously been tested and allows the pregnant
    woman to decline to be tested;

  • invalid-0

    This is so unbelievable in this day and age that someone in the senate is so ill informed about a subject, and then rants about it blaming women again for everything! I think that women have become the scape goats for everything. We need more female Senators,Congresswomen Govenors (not like Palin) and mayors in this country.

  • invalid-0

    What I find amazing is how little this Senator is educated on HOW people get HIV. Many people are in what they believe to be monogamous relationships and it’s their PARTNER who isn’t monogamous. I think we can look too many of our role models in Congress or churches, who are white men who’ve been caught in sex scandals in the last few years. If they brought home HIV to their wives, does this make their wives sluts???

  • invalid-0

    Gosh – one has to wonder how many hookers this guy has been with. Most medical conditions are a result of our “bad” behavior. Lets get the government out of all medicine then and stop focusing on naughty women. No more government funding for prostate cancer research. Our nations men need to have healthier diets and if they refuse to eat well then let them die early from it.

  • invalid-0

    I think it is a good idea to have pregnant mothers tested for HIV. If they find out they are HIV positive, they can almost eliminate (less than 1% chance) the chances of baby getting HIV by following the CDC guidelines (C-section birth, 6 weeks of AZT treatment for baby and mother) and stopping any breast feeding.

  • jonathono

    In my own opinion it is a good idea to have pregnant mothers tested for HIV. If they find out they are HIV positive, they can almost eliminate the chances of baby getting HIV by following the CDC guidelines and stopping any breast-feeding. It’s not that I don’t believe that women are monogamous but let’s be more practical men are sexually active than women so there is possibility that they could infect their wives. Nowadays, it’s really hard to bring back our old ways of standard living. We still are facing up all this economic downturns that result into too much poverty, starvation and unemployment to some of our people. But on the other hand some jobs still exist even in times of hard life. One of this is a Realtor. It is said being Realtor is a good career. A Realtor during a housing boom can rake in the cash, especially if they’re able to work in an expensive market. Take Marin County for instance – Marin County is the county of the North Bay Area around San Francisco. Unfortunately, it is also close to Oakland. However, with the housing market being what it is, you can’t get a house for really cheap in California with poor credit, even with a payday loan to help out with a deposit. Still, some in the Realtor trade are resorting to installment loans to keep afloat. Just try to save more and always keep in mind that too many expenses is unwanted at this time of recession.