‘Personhood’ Bill Fizzles

(Jan. 30) – House Republicans’ annual assault on women’s reproductive rights misfired today when the Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 to reject a bill that would have created a definition of “personhood” in Colorado’s statutes. HB14-1049, by Rep. Janak Joshi (D-Colorado Springs), would have made “death or injury to an unborn member of the species homo sapiens” punishable as a homicide or assault, arguably undermining a woman’s access to reproductive services. “The decision about what to do with my body is my decision,” Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver) told Rep. Joshi. “This is personhood all over again. It says ‘species homo sapiens’ right in it. Been there, done that, and we just don’t need to go there again. The people of this state have spoken.” Rep. Court was referring to statewide votes in 2008 and 2010 in which Coloradans decisively rejected proposed constitutional amendments to ban abortion. Rep. Joshi’s bill was identical to one he carried and lost in the 2013 session. Still to come before the Judiciary Committee is another abortion ban bill, HB14-1133 by Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Severance), which is nearly identical to the one he carried and lost in 2013. “As long as partisan politicians keep pushing an extremist agenda, women’s rights will never be completely secure,” said Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood). Supporters of the Joshi bill claimed Colorado law does not adequately address the cases of women who lose pregnancies because of assaults or recklessness. But that was precisely the purpose of laws passed by Democrats last year, creating a new category of crimes involving “unlawful termination of a pregnancy” without interfering with women’s reproductive freedoms.

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