Colorado Protects Pregnant Women

(July 1) – A new category of laws designed specifically to protect pregnant women went into effect today, giving prosecutors new tools to charge those who intentionally or recklessly cause a woman to lose her pregnancy.

HB13-1154, sponsored by Reps. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette) and Claire Levy (D-Boulder), created a new category of crime: unlawful termination of pregnancy in the first, second, third, and fourth degrees; vehicular unlawful termination of pregnancy; aggravated vehicular unlawful termination of pregnancy; and careless driving resulting in unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

“Right now a drunk driver can run into another vehicle containing a woman and cause that woman to lose her pregnancy as a result,” Rep. Foote told the House during debate in March. “And the only thing that drunk driver can be prosecuted for is misdemeanor DUI and traffic offenses.”

“The new laws achieve a simple, practical solution to the problem without going down the road toward personhood,” Rep. Foote, a Boulder County prosecutor, said today.

A Republican-sponsored variant of the bill failed in 2012 because it focused not on pregnant women but “unborn children,” despite two statewide referendums in which the people of Colorado voted decisively against proposals to add fetal “personhood” to the state constitution. Defying the clearly expressed will of the voters, the GOP tried four times to amend HB13-1154 to confer “personhood” on fetuses, and 28 Republican ideologues – 14 in each chamber — voted against the bill rather than stand up for the protection of pregnant women.

“Personhood is really nothing more than an abortion ban, and the people have rejected it,” Rep. Levy said. “But we needed to recognize the special circumstances of pregnant women and impose appropriate penalties on those who cause them to miscarry. These new laws get the job done.”

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