Colorado Bill Would Allow Civil Lawsuits for ‘Unlawful Termination’ of Pregnancy

Legislation is awaiting the signature of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper that would allow women to sue a person for civil damages for “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” causing an “unlawful termination of her pregnancy.”

The bill, called the Civil Damages for Unlawful Termination of Pregnancy Act (HB 14-1388), adds to the legal options given to women last year when Colorado passed the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act (HB 13-1154), allowing prosecutors to file criminal charges against perpetrators of negligent acts against pregnant women.

“This bill represents the next step in ensuring pregnant women in Colorado have protections both criminally, and civilly,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, in a statement released after the legislation cleared the Colorado Senate Monday.

“The bill has been carefully crafted so that it will not restrict access to reproductive health care,” said Alderman. “Specifically, HB-1388 will not establish personhood; it will not subject women to civil suits for actions they take in regard to their own pregnancies; and it will not subject doctors who provide safe and legal reproductive health care to additional civil action.”

The legislation, which is expected to be signed by Hickenlooper, states that “nothing shall be construed to confer the status of ‘person’ upon a human embryo, fetus, or unborn child at any stage of development prior to live birth.”

It also states that “nothing in this act shall be construed to create a cause of action against a woman arising from her own actions, or inactions, that result in an injury to her pregnancy; and [n]othing in this act shall be construed to create a cause of action against a health care institution or health care professional engaged in providing health care services to a patient.”

With language like this, in clear support of abortion rights, anti-choice activists see the bill not as legal recourse for women who’ve lost pregnancies but as part of a larger effort against their campaigns to restrict abortion.

“HB 1388 is another deceptively-written anti-personhood bill designed to protect abortion providers,” Personhood USA spokesperson Jennifer Mason told RH Reality Check in an email. “Much like the extreme HB 1154, this bill does nothing to protect pregnant women, and in fact deliberately demeans and dehumanizes unborn babies.”

“Personhood” backers like Mason also say life begins upon the formation of a zygote, at the moment a sperm enters a human egg. So they object to the language of the proposed law, which defines “pregnancy” to mean the “presence of an implanted human embryo or fetus within the uterus of a woman.”

Mason’s organization has a plan to pass its version of “infant-homicide” law in Colorado. Personhood USA is backing an amendment, which will appear on the November election ballot, that would allow prosecutors to bring murder charges in cases where a pregnancy was lost as the result of a reckless act.

The initiative, called the Brady Amendment, would give new legal rights directly to “unborn human beings,” by defining “‘person’ and ‘child’ in the Colorado criminal code and the Colorado wrongful death act to include unborn human beings.”

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  • Pinkladyapple

    So they object to the language of the proposed law, which defines “pregnancy” to mean the “presence of an implanted human embryo or fetus within the uterus of a woman.”

    By definition that’s what a pregnancy is. If a fertilized egg fails to embed in the uterus there is no pregnancy. I don’t get the goal of this insanely intrusive personhood movement, besides outlawing abortion under all circumstances, then what?? Force sexually active women to submit to monthly menstrual blood inspections for microscopic “people”? Investigate every miscarriage to prove no wrongdoing? These people are hellbent on punishing women just for the crime of being female.

    • purrtriarchy

      Because the don’t want women to do anything to prevent implantation. If she does, she is a murderer, because eggs and sperm own a woman’s body.

      • Arekushieru

        Especially the SPERM.

      • lady_black

        No, eggs and sperm really don’t own anyone’s body. And they never will.

  • purrtriarchy

    Drew Hymer, one of the regular posters at Personhood USA, said that any woman who has had a uterine ablation and continues to have sex without a tubal ligation is a murderer who should go to jail for manslaughter at the very least.

    • lady_black

      I know Drew. He’s an idiot. And he has no say in my sex life. NONE.

    • Jennifer Starr

      Drew Hymer sounds like a moron.

      • Plum Dumpling

        Drew is a moron. And that is being kind.

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  • Arekushieru

    So, antis are proving once again that they are not about life, at all, and that they are COMPLETELY anti-women? How… surprising.