Why did the extreme anti-abortion crowd oppose a bill making it a crime to kill an unborn baby?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Spot blog reported yesterday that a bill making it a crime if you kill an unborn child is on life-support after Republicans withdrew their support yesterday.

Why? Democrats quoted in the blog post said state GOP leaders gave in to pressure from anti-abortion extremists.

But the article doesn’t explain why anti-abortion activists would oppose a bill that would put someone behind bars who kills an unborn child through reckless or criminal action.

Ari Armstrong explains on his blog the thinking on the right-wing side:

On March 14, the Colorado Catholic Conference sent an action alert via email opposing 1256. This Catholic group offered two main arguments. First, the “bill fails to recognize an unborn child as a separate victim of homicide or assault,” as the bill explicitly states that a fetus is not a person under law. Second:

“The Colorado Catholic Conference also opposes the fact that this bill seeks to repeal the criminal abortion statute that is still on the books in Colorado. The pro-life community looks forward to the day when Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and there is no benefit to the pro-life community to repeal our criminal abortion statute, even if currently it is not enforceable.”

I take it this refers to statutes 18-6-101 through 18-6-105, which bill 1256 would have repealed. Statute 18-6-102 outlaws the ending of a “pregnancy of a woman by any means other than justified medical termination or birth.” The key, then, is what constitutes “justified medical termination,” which 18-6-101 defines. The measure severely restricts abortion to cases of likely death of the woman, “serious permanent impairment of the physical health of the woman” (including mental health), serious fetal deformity, cases where the woman is under sixteen, rape, and incest.

So the Colorado Catholic Conference admits the abortion statute is unenforceable, but that doesn’t stop it from undermining a law that would protect unborn babies, as recognized by enforceable law.

The Colorado Christian Family Alliance explained its opposition to the fetal homicide bill as well:

If passed this bill will virtually undo all of Colorado’s pro-life laws, including parental notification for minors to receive an abortion.

HB 1256 specifically removes the status of “person” for pre-born children and codifies taxpayer funding for abortion mills in spite of article V section 50 of the Colorado State Constitution that forbids any direct or indirect tax payer funding for abortion.

HB 1256 is so anti-life it’s even sponsored in the Senate by the radical leftist senator from Denver, Pat Steadman, formerly a leading lobbyist for Planned Parenthood!

The bill was also sponsored by Republicans Matt Waller (CO Springs) and Laura Bradford (Collbran).

I’ll try to find out if the GOP offered any way forward for the Dems, but it looks like this was a one-sided torpedo by the anti-abortion extremists, for symbolic ideological reasons illuminated above.

As Armstrong later concludes, “So the next time a criminal gets away with killing a woman’s fetus, feel free to blame the anti-abortion crusaders who killed bill 1256.”

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. dwyer says:

    I thought that the law requiring parental notification did not survive a legal challenge.  Anyone know for sure?

    Anyway, don’t forget, the Catholics have a lot of hospitals and this might interfere, although I don’t know how, with medical protocols.

    REMEMBER, PEOPLE,  the republican strategy is to control the US senate, confirm only pro-life Supreme Court justices and then hope for a ruling which will NOT outlaw abortion, but rule that it is a states’ rights issue.  In that context, keeping all anti-abortion laws on the books makes sense.

    • But doesn’t necessarily remove it from the law books.

    • CastleMan says:

      Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. The vote was 7-2. In 1975, a Republican president appointed Justice John Paul Stevens. In 1981, a Republican president appointed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In 1986, a Republican president appointed Justice Antonin Scalia. In 1988, a Republican president appointed Justice Anthony Kennedy. In 1990, a Republican president appointed Justice David Souter. In 1991, a Republican president appointed Justice Clarence Thomas.

      Thus, even before the GOP took control of Congress in January 1995, it would have been possible for the party to achieve its ostensible goal of totally reversing Roe v. Wade. If the 1975, 1981, 1988, and 1990 appointees by Republican presidents had agreed with that, there would have been enough votes to reverse Roe (because two dissenters – Rehnquist and White – remained on the Court throughout that period).

      After taking control of Congress in January 1995, Republicans could have proposed a constitutional amendment on the issue. I don’t recall if they did or did not, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t really push it.

      I am not saying that I would have agreed with these outcomes, though I do think Roe is problematic in terms of its constitutional analysis (and its successors not much better), but I do say that I think Republicans don’t actually want Roe reversed.

      They want the issue preserved, even if that means abortion remains a constitutional right, because it motivates their Christianist base to vote.

      The GOP is hypocritical on this issue.

      • nancycronknancycronk says:

        That makes my “wolves in education” reform diary look tepid. Sadly, you are probably correct. I’d hate to count on that dare though, since they’ve seemed pretty close at times. (Or is that part of the theatre?)

    • droll says:

      They took a lot of care in making it abortion neutral (or pro, if you believe the extremes).

      Some states have different ages of when fetuses are murdered, rather than nothing, by an assailant. It’s specifically different than a medical procedure.

  2. Barron X says:


    in keeping with Jason’s headline, asking why the sky is blue.


  3. DaftPunkDaftPunk says:

    You would put quotation marks around “unborn babies” and “unborn child.”

    When you concede one side’s language, you’ve given away half the argument.  

  4. CastleMan says:

    but I just don’t see why a law providing that it is a crime to kill the developing human being inside a woman’s womb is controversial.

    The bill wasn’t about abortion and it wasn’t about whether a woman who seeks a termination of her pregnancy, or the medical professional who helps her, are violating the law.

    If you were expecting a baby, or are the partner of someone who is, and you lost that child in an assault, you would expect that our law would demonstrate some kind of regard for that growing human being gestating within you or your partner.

    Can’t we, just once, try to find something to agree about when it comes to this general subject?

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