(Feb. 12) – A GOP effort to restrict Colorado women’s access to family planning services fell apart this evening in the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee.
The vote was 8-5, with the committee’s all-female Democratic majority voting to protect women’s access to reproductive health services while Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, voted against the bill because it would restrict abortion rather than outlaw it altogether.
HB15-1128, drafted by a national anti-abortion group and sponsored in Colorado by Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, and Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, would have required licensing of family planning clinics in Colorado; required them to meet, and in some aspects exceed, standards for ambulatory surgery centers; and required the clinics to be staffed by physicians with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles – effectively closing any rural clinic more than 30 miles from a hospital.

The bill, which the sponsors dubbed the Women’s Health Protection Act, also would have required clinics to conduct an ultrasound examination before an abortion, without explaining how an ultrasound would protect a woman’s health. The bill also gratuitously, and falsely, asserted that abortions increase the risk of breast cancer.

After Texas passed its version of the Women’s Health Degradation Act in 2013, the number of family planning clinics in that state shrank from 41 to 20.

“Coloradans voted in 2008, 2010 and 2014 – and by lopsided margins each time – to keep the state government from intruding into the private relationship between a woman and her doctor,” said Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, chairwoman of the Health, Insurance & Environment Committee. “This bill would deny access to health care for many of Colorado’s women.”

“It strikes me as the height of arrogance that a couple of male legislators would try to dictate to Colorado women on their health decisions through this Women’s Health Interference Act,” Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, said after she voted against the bill.

“The same two sponsors are the perpetrators of the Women’s Health Intrusion Act and the Anti-Vaxxers Bill of Rights, which just got through the state Senate,” Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, said after her no vote. “I sincerely hope these sponsors will stick to their guns and leave Colorado health care law alone.”

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