House Dems Protecting Women’s Choice

(Feb. 9) – The six Democrats on the House Health, Insurance & Environment Committee defended women’s access to reproductive health services, including safe, legal access to abortion services, in a marathon hearing this evening by voting to kill HB17-1086, HB17-1085 and HB17-1108. All three bills were defeated on a party-line 6-5 vote.

“It’s been a very, very long committee hearing, but it’s worth it to fight for women’s rights,” said Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, near midnight. “It seems crazy that in 2017, some are still seeking to take away a woman’s constitutional right to choose. But if women know how to do anything, it’s how to persist.”

The third bill heard tonight, HB17-1108, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Eaton, would ban virtually all abortions, emergency contraception and some forms of fertility treatment in Colorado and impose severe criminal penalties against physicians performing abortions.

“What about the worst case scenarios?” asked Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora. “This bill creates a situation where a woman could be forced to carry the child of her rapist. The trauma of going through that is enough without having to be vilified for personal choices.”

HB17-1085, killed on a party-line vote just past 9:30 p.m., claims to regulate abortion providers for safety reasons, but ultimately seeks to make it harder to access abortion through placing impossible regulations on providers. Sponsored by Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, the bill also registers doctors performing the procedure under the purview of Attorney General’s office.

“The recent Supreme Court case that rejected a very similar law in Texas clearly stated that a state cannot place an undue burden on abortion access,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “This bill is not about safety—it’s trying to reduce and even eliminate Colorado women’s access. That’s unacceptable.”

“This bill claims to be about unsafe environments and patient safety, but according to the CDC [Centers for Disease Control], abortion has a safety record of over 99 percent,” said Rep. Dominique Jackson, D-Aurora. “And by creating a registry of doctors under the Attorney General’s office, this would create a witch hunt that is clearly meant to have an intimidating and chilling effect.”

Defeated earlier in the evening, HB17-1086, sponsored by Reps. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, and Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, requires a doctor to tell a woman seeking abortion through medication that there is an abortion pill reversal method available. The method—a large dose of progesterone—has never been tested in clinical trials and has not been approved by the FDA.

“ACOG [American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists] states that progesterone can cause significant cardiovascular, nervous system and endocrine adverse reactions as well as other side effects,” said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “Why would we order doctors to tell their patients about this untested procedure when it can cause them harm?”

“Why would we legislate the care a doctor provides a patient?” asked Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver. “I believe doctors should do what they do best: stick with evidence-based practices and politicians should stay out of the doctor’s office.”

As several advocates brought up during over four hours of testimony, HB17-1086 would interfere in the relationship between a patient and her healthcare provider by obliging doctors to provide information about a method of supposed abortion reversal that is based upon the treatment of just six women.

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