Efforts to block a contraception bill shriveled Monday in the Colorado House after a series of weird and contentious legislative hearings and an unsuccessful attempt during a House floor debate Friday to add a poison pill amendment to insert the religious definition of pregnancy as at the moment of conception.
The Birth Control Protection Act
passed on a largely party-line roll call vote of 39 to 25, with House
Minority Leader Paul Weissman excused. Western Slope moderate Reps. Tom
Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, voted with the
State Rep. Anne McGihon and state Sen. Betty Boyd, both Denver
Democrats, crafted SB 225 to thwart future legal or constitutional
challenges similar to Amendment 48
(pdf) — the failed 2008 ballot measure that sought to grant
constitutional rights to fertilized eggs. The bill codifies
“contraception or a contraceptive device as a medically acceptable
drug, device, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy.” The lawmakers
reasoned that having a clear-cut definition that complements current
state law defining pregnancy will eliminate a debate over whether
contraception induces abortions.
Prior to the floor vote, Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Colorado Springs,
inexplicably related her personal experience with in-vitro
fertilization and opposition to Amendment 48. Stephens urged House
members to defeat the bill using the same logic of the failed poison
pill amendment that provisions defining conception and contraception
should be “married together.” The decades-old state legal definition of
pregnancy is implantation of a fertilized egg, the commonly accepted
scientific and medical description.
Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, reassured her colleagues that she
“isn’t going to talk about myself, so guys you can quit squirming over
there.” Gerou also rehashed her Friday talking points by opposing the
bill over what she perceives as a freedom of choice limitation — though
she never explained how defining contraception creates a chilling
The bill passed the Senate March 5 and now moves to Gov. Bill Ritter’s office.
At the behest of Ritter and Catholic hospital representatives, Boyd
amended the bill to exclude mifespristone, also known as RU-486, and
other federally approved pharmaceuticals that induce abortion, from the
proposed legal definition of contraception. With that provision added,
it is believed Ritter will sign the bill.