UPDATE 4:35PM: GOP Reps. Bob Gardner and Mark Waller, both pro-life but “reluctantly” unable to vote for an “unconstitutional” bill to ban abortion, join Democrats in voting against House Bill 14-1133. Bill dies on a final vote of 9-2.
UPDATE #3: Hearing now underway, this Texas-style rotunda photo sent to us from the press conference prior:
UPDATE #2: The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic:
Karen Middleton, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado director, told the Independent that calling attention to this kind of legislation is important, especially given the way the local and national political landscape on the issue of women’s reproductive rights has shifted in recent years.
“Leadership in the Colorado House and Senate is always in the balance,” she said. “This is a bill that has been introduced in the past and will likely be introduced again. It could get through, maybe not this year, but next year… Voters have to take note.”
…Middleton points to the historic wave of anti-abortion bills passed in statehouses around the country in recent years that, she suggests, voters may not have supported had the consequences of the laws been more clearly spelled out in debate.
“You can see what is happening. You see what happened in Texas,” she said.
UPDATE: From the release announcing today's opposition press conference:
A diverse coalition of Coloradans, including reproductive health organizations, doctors, and women with stories about their reproductive health experiences will be speaking out in advance of Tuesday’s hearing on HB 1133, the abortion ban bill.
HB14-1133, which is being sponsored by Republican leadership, would ban abortion in Colorado in almost all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest. The bill would make it a Class 3 felony for a physician to perform an abortion, which carries a 4-12 year prison sentence. This bill does not represent the needs of Colorado women and families, or the values of Colorado voters. Coloradans have rejected abortion bans at the ballot box twice, and strong majorities continue to support access to safe abortion services.
When & Where: 1:00 pm, Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Rotunda, 2nd Floor, Outside Old Supreme Court Chambers
Who: Physicians, health care providers, Colorado women
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
COLOR – Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights (bilingual)
Today at 1:30PM in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, debate in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee will commence on a key piece of Republican legislation, House Bill 14-1133. As we've discussed in this space already, this bill has a simple purpose:
Before the hearing at 1:00PM, a press conference/rally with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is scheduled outside the Old Supreme Court Chambers. The choice of venue for this hearing anticipates a large crowd, and it's anybody's guess as of now whether it will be overwhelmed with supporters of a total abortion ban in Colorado, opponents, or (mostly likely) both. Hours of emotional testimony is expected, after which the bill will almost certainly die at the hands of this Democratic-controlled committee.
For all the complaints at the beginning of the session–baseless whining, as it turned out–that Republican bills weren't receiving a fair hearing, House Bill 14-1133 wasn't sent to the so-called "kill committee." As we saw this year with failed attempt to repeal the 2013 gun safety laws, Republicans have failed to make good on their threats to pack legislative hearings with angry citizens–a prerequisite for any subsequent claim that they weren't treated fairly. In practice, hearings that were supposed to be standing room only weren't. Opponents of repealing last year's gun bills matched or even outnumbered gun rights activists. And by the end, everyone, including chagrined Republican legislators, were thanking Democrats for the fair hearings.
Today, Republicans will get another fair hearing–albeit for legislation smart Republicans wish had never been introduced. In one of the nation's most ardently and historically pro-choice states, the local GOP's dogmatic fixation with banning abortion has done tremendous political damage in recent years. But it's undeniable that Colorado Republicans own this bill, with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso himself signed on as a cosponsor.
Understanding all of this, Democrats of course are going to make as big a deal of the 2014 Republican Abortion Ban Bill™ as they possibly can. They have everything to gain politically from doing so, yes. But more than that, this is a trap that Republicans willingly place themselves in year after year. No one, in the too-often "sympathetic" media or anyone else, should give them a bit of cover.
It is who they are, folks. If Republicans don't like that, if that costs them elections, they can change. We have said for years that Republicans could regain the competitiveness they lost in this state a decade ago if they could take the edge off their divisive, wedge-issue dependent message. Moderates, left or right, are what win in this state, and Democrats have spent years cultivating that image. Last year, Democrats spent some of their political capital, giving Republicans at least a superficial opportunity to move to the coveted center.
Thanks to bills like this, Republicans have squandered that opportunity.