As controversy raged over the recent horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont woman toward the end of this year’s legislative session, we noted in late April that a bill proposed by Colorado Senate Republicans “in response” to that attack, Senate Bill 15-268, incorporated model language from the national anti-abortion advocacy group Americans United For Life. Even though Senate President Bill Cadman insisted that the legislation was not intended to restrict abortion rights, AUL proudly took credit for the bill with its members, as part of an explicit strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade “through deliberate, legal strategies that accumulate victories, build momentum, and restore a culture of life.”
In particular, language in Senate Bill 268 defining a “human being” as “an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth” echoed the Personhood abortion ban constitutional amendments that Colorado voters have overwhelmingly rejected three times in recent elections. An amendment to strip the Personhood language was rejected by the GOP Senate majority, and despite Cadman’s protests to the contrary, it was clear by the time this legislation was finally killed in the Democratic-controlled House that the “ulterior motive” of chipping away at abortion rights was very much the goal–as AUL was more than happy to confirm in their member communications.
Now that the session is over, it should be noted that Americans United for Life played a role in more than just the so-called “fetal homicide” debate. In a memo distributed just before the end of Colorado’s legislative session this year, AUL includes our state in a long list of states where their organization has contributed “legislative consulting” and model bill language:
AUL and AUL Action have responded to 329 legislative consulting requests in 31 states and the District of Columbia: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, [Pols emphasis] District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
So far this legislative session, AUL has distributed 620 policy guides/model language in 33 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, [Pols emphasis] Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
In terms of specific bills AUL takes credit for in Colorado this year, it’s a lot more than just the “fetal homicide” proposal:
• Colorado is considering HB 1162 which is based on AUL model language and prohibits sex-selective abortions.
• Colorado is also considering HB 1128 which is based on AUL model language and provides licensing and safety requirements for abortion clinics. The measure includes an admitting privileges requirement.
• Colorado is considering SB 268 which is based on AUL model language and provides legal protection for unborn victims of criminal violence.
All of these bills, along with others like the bill to make abortion a felony earlier in the session, were ultimately killed in the Democratic House. The only one of these bills that ever had any hope at all was the “fetal homicide” bill, and then only because the tragic attack on Michelle Wilkins was still fresh in everyone’s minds. But to Cadman and Americans United for Life, the attack on Wilkins was an opportunity to push a big piece of a much broader anti-abortion agenda–and maybe even get it passed through a legislature partly controlled by Democrats. It didn’t matter that the alleged perpetrator in the Longmont attack faces over 100 years in prison if convicted, making the need for a new crime beyond Colorado’s existing unlawful termination of a pregnancy statute unnecessary.
These facts help explain why Democrats and pro-choice groups were so enraged by the exploitation of the attack on Wilkins by Cadman and the GOP Senate majority: they knew where this legislation was coming from, and they knew what AUL’s agenda really is. It’s widely suspected that the blowback at Cadman over the “fetal homicide” bill provoked him to allow a much crazier abortion restriction bill, Senate Bill 15-285, to drop right before the end of the session. Cadman, after all, is famously easy to piss off, and his responses are not always the most level-headed. Politically, these anti-abortion bills are highly toxic in the long term–but that didn’t even slow Cadman and the Colorado GOP down a bit.
Now that the dust has settled, hopefully the media can stop making excuses for what happened. Because it’s all out in the open now.