News Law and Policy

Colorado Republicans Introduce ‘Personhood’ Bill After Ballot Measure Defeat

Jason Salzman

A bill in the Colorado house would define life as beginning at conception. It has almost no chance of passing, observers say.

Republicans in the Colorado house introduced a “personhood” bill Tuesday that would define life as beginning at fertilization and ban all abortion or other procedures that would destroy a zygote or fetus prior to birth.

The legislation is nearly identical to a bill that died in legislative committees controlled by Democrats last year.

Republicans in November took control of Colorado’s senate, and political observers believe the personhood legislation has a chance this year of passing the senate judiciary committee and being considered by the full state senate. The GOP proposal comes just two months after a personhood amendment was rejected by Colorado voters for the third time.

With pro-choice Democrats in charge of the state house and governor’s office, the personhood bill has almost no possibility of becoming law.

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“Once again, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado is appalled that Republican members of the House and Senate are ignoring the values of Colorado voters by introducing measures like HB15-1041, which would ban abortions in all cases including in cases of rape and incest,” spokesperson Cathy Alderman said in an email to Rewire. “Colorado voters by a vote of 65 percent have now voted against such dangerous measures three times at the ballot box and the General Assembly has rejected these measures overwhelmingly over the last several years in alignment with their constituents’ values.”

The bill would subject doctors to a class 3 felony for performing an abortion. Women who receive abortions would not face criminal charges under the Republican measure.

“A person shall not knowingly administer to, prescribe for, or sell to a pregnant mother any medicine, drug, or other substance with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being,” the bill states. “A person shall not knowingly use or employ any instrument or procedure upon a pregnant mother with the specific intent of causing or abetting the termination of the life of an unborn human being.”

The legislation states that the “sale and use of contraception is not prohibited,” but the word “contraception” is not defined.

One of the bill’s ten sponsors is Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, of Colorado Springs, who’s raised eyebrows nationally for his extreme comments and controversial background, including his alleged attempt to perform an exorcism on a lesbian soldier.

Klingenschmitt, a former military chaplain who calls himself “Dr. Chaps,” said in an April podcast, “We discern a demonic spirit of guilt and murder and self-murder and self-hatred and everything that arises out of [abortion].”

Meanwhile, Colorado’s personhood advocates have charged that the statewide personhood ballot measure is “dead for now,” but that the fight for extremist personhood measures should resume at a more local level.

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