The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic has a great recap of this week's big local political story, the abortion ban legislation co-sponsored by 19 Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly that met its demise Tuesday:
Although Republican lawmakers, including House leadership, signed on in double digits to co-sponsor humphrey’s bill, something changed in the two months since it was introduced.
None of the co-sponsors came to Tuesday’s hearing. Only four people altogether testified in favor of the bill. Yet dozens of pro-choice activists held a press conference prior to the hearing to rail against it and many of those lined up to argue against it from the witness stand…
Humphrey opposed all the amendments. He said they would change the purpose of the measure. It was a personhood bill, after all. Either a fertilized egg is a person or it isn’t. He took the defeat of his bill in stride, with what seemed like the long vision of a true believer secure in the knowledge that fighting for his convictions mattered as much as victory.
But the arguments made by the Republican lawmakers against the bill as plainly unconstitutional may complicate a politically charged effort to land another personhood initiative on this year’s ballot. Supporters of the so-called Brady Amendment have already gathered 140,000 signatures. The secretary of state only has to certify roughly 90,000 of those signatures as valid in order for the initiative to make the ballot.
The long, unsuccessful fight by Republicans to institute a total ban on abortion in the staunchly pro-choice state of Colorado has done great political damage to that party's viability, factoring heavily in numerous major electoral races from Bob Schaffer in 2008 to Ken Buck in 2010 and Joe Coors in 2012–and now Bob Beauprez in 2014. The damage done by this ideological fixation has slowly dawned on Republicans, which may have led to Secretary of State Scott Gessler making an "extra effort" to keep the Personhood abortion ban off the 2012 statewide ballot.
The growing awareness of the self-injury resulting from their campaign to ban abortion on the part of Colorado Republicans is a big reason we were honestly surprised to see another abortion ban bill introduced in the Colorado General Assembly this year. Even more surprising was the large number of co-sponsors, including House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso. Not only did Republicans "go there" again in this election year, they did so enthusiastically.
But as Tomasic reports above, something happened between then and last Tuesday when the bill finally came up for debate. The crowd of co-sponsors was nowhere to be found, and the few witnesses who showed up to testify in favor of banning abortion were totally overwhelmed by pro-choice advocates and citizens. If this was a belated realization that getting behind this stillborn legislation was a huge political mistake, we suppose they deserve some credit. But the smart thing would have been to not introduce an abortion ban to begin with–or failing that, to at least not have such a large number of Republicans sign on as co-sponsors.
And, of course, this is just the opening number for the main event. Supporters of this year's "Brady Amendment" abortion ban have submitted a large pad of signatures above the minimum threshold, and are likely to make the ballot. The top-line Republican candidate in Colorado this year, Republican Cory Gardner, is on the video record as an ardent supporter of the Personhood abortion bans. Whether Republicans like it or not, their ticket in Colorado at all levels is on a collision course with the issue of abortion. They can't hide from it, and their irritation at having to keep answering for it year after year can't protect them from voter backlash.
Because the voters don't seem to be changing their minds, either.