‘Personhood’ and ‘Fetal Homicide’ Legislation Introduced in Colorado Legislature


Despite overwhelming odds against any anti-choice bills turning into laws in Colorado, where the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature are controlled by pro-choice Democrats, Republican state lawmakers have introduced two anti-abortion bills so far this year, and more could be on the way.

One bill would completely ban abortion, even in the event of rape and incest, making abortion allowable only if the mother’s life were in danger. Prosecution would not be warranted, however, if medical treatment for the mother unintentionally caused an abortion.

Introduced by state Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Severance) and co-sponsored by 19 state lawmakers, the legislation defines life as beginning at conception and thus reflects “personhood” amendments defeated overwhelmingly in Colorado in 2008 and 2010.

The bill states that “the sale and use of contraception is not prohibited by the bill,” but contraception must be administered “prior to conception.” It is widely believed, however, that these bills would in fact ban common forms of contraception, many of which the anti-choice movement misleadingly claims are abortifacients. IUDs, for example, prevent pregnancy; they do not cause abortion, though anti-choice sites continue to claim that they do

“I understand that some people may consider my bill a divisive issue, but I along with a majority of my constituents strongly support the bill and believe we must protect our most vulnerable children,” Humphrey said in a statement.

“It’s bad enough that this bill puts politicians and government in between Colorado women, their families, and their physicians, something Colorado voters have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “This bill could result in jailing doctors. A Class 3 felony is a minimum 4-12 year sentence.”

A second bill, introduced by state Rep. Janak Joshi (R-Colorado Springs), aims to change Colorado’s criminal code to allow prosecutors to bring murder or assault charges against people who “cause death or injury to an unborn member of the species homo sapiens.”

A Colorado law passed last year makes it a crime to recklessly terminate a pregnancy (for example, if a drunk driver hits a pregnant women), but this new bill, which was opposed by Joshi and others, does not allow prosecutors to bring murder charges against the perpetrator (for example, the drunk driver), and it does not treat the “unborn member of the species homo sapiens” as a victim of the crime, only the pregnant woman.

Joshi’s bill was killed Thursday on a 6-4 party-line vote by Democrats, which control both houses of the Colorado legislature.

“This bill is about criminal justice,” said Joshi, as reported by Denver Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols. “This bill is about protecting women and giving their unborn children protection under the law.”

Hoping for a better reception by Colorado voters, anti-choice activists have placed a “fetal homicide” measure on the November ballot here that reflects the language of the bill defeated Thursday. The amendment to the Colorado Constitution would add “unborn human beings” to the definition of a “person” in the state’s criminal code.

“This legislation is a back-door attempt to chip away at settled law guaranteeing reproductive choice for all women in the United States,” wrote ProgressNow Education Director Amy Runyan Harms in an email alert Wednesday. “Colorado already has laws providing for tough sentences for crimes against pregnant women, making this legislation completely unnecessary. Your Colorado legislators need to know you see through the far right’s deceptive language, and that you won’t stand for this attack on women’s rights and health.”

It’s still unclear whether anti-choice legislators will introduce a bill, as they did last year, banning public funding for entities that “directly or indirectly” perform abortions as well as separate legislation banning abortion “undertaken for the purposes of eliminating an unborn child of undesired sex.”

Both these bills, opposed by pro-choice groups, were defeated last year by Colorado Democratic lawmakers, as were the “personhood” abortion ban and “fetal homicide” measures introduced this year.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • Ivy Mike

    “They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And They absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

    Paraphrasing Kyle Reese.

  • Renee Goodwin

    Stuff like this crap makes me feel like every woman in the us should just say “f” it and have her tubes tied at puberty, then let these god d@mn men figure out how to keep the human race going without a single woman left in the whole country that is capable of getting pregnant

  • lady_black

    Not a one of these personhood people are sane. Some of them are so loopy that they believe even tubal pregnancies shouldn’t be aborted because in most cases the woman doesn’t die from a ruptured tube. Don’t take my word for it. Google “ectopic personhood.”

    • Defamate

      Just did
      There is no need to treat an ectopic pregnancy because:

      1) the ‘child’ will miscarry before it kills the woman
      2) only a small percentage of women die from ep so eh..
      3) the ‘child’ will spontaneously reattach someplace safer
      4) the woman can be saved with blood transfusions, so letting the fallopian tube rupture is acceptable care
      5) ectopic pregnancies are usually non fatal for woman and ‘child’
      6) doctors can transplant the embryo and did so in 1980 and 1915!??

      • lady_black

        Of course. ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition and should always be treated to preserve life and fertility. And doctors cannot “transplant” the embryo. And abdominal ectopic pregnancies are even more dangerous than those in the tubes. So none of that is true. Not a word of it.

      • anja

        That’s one of the biggest problems today. There is so much dis-information out there that people do not learn the truth but just accept what they are told. If you would go to a reputable medical site and not a propaganda site you could learn how wrong you are.

        • Mirable

          Yep. And CPC’s are a big part of it. Jennifer Starr’s relative almost died because a CPC worker told her that the ectopic pregnancy could be safely moved to her uterus, or something.

          • anja

            CPC’s should be shut down for false advertising, fraud, lying, harassment, and worse.