Last Wednesday, Colorado Democrats abandoned a NARAL-supported bill that would have banned any state regulation of abortion. The proposed legislation was dropped after the Democrat state senator who is the deciding vote publicly expressed his concerns about the proposal, making it evident Democrats might not have the votes to pass it in a chamber in which they hold only a single-seat majority.
As the Associated Press reported, state Sen. John Kefalas said he, the deciding vote on the state’s Reproductive Health Freedom Act, had misgivings about voting along with the other members of his party because of “concerns about the outpouring that I heard from folks.”
Kefalas said he questioned whether the measure was the “right tool” to protect abortion rights.
“I totally support a woman’s right to make decisions,” he said, but he indicated a significant public outcry caused him to question the measure.
Some reports indicate Kefalas is a Catholic who, in 2004, exited his job as a lobbyist for Catholic Charities North because on a questionnaire he indicated he supported Roe v. Wade. However, another report states Kefalas is a Mennonite and claims he was wrongfully terminated from his job and forced to resign due to his views on abortion.
A rally of more than 1,000 pro-life activists protested the bill at the state capitol last week, led by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who said the measure was so vague it could easily have been interpreted to ban any health regulations at women’s clinics.
In an open letter to the people of Colorado, Aquila wrote:
This over-reaching piece of legislation would essentially shut down any attempt to pass life-affirming legislation in Colorado ever again. More than that, it enshrines the “right to abortion” into Colorado law. It’s being praised by anti-life organizations such as NARAL and ThinkProgress as “the first of its kind” in the country and “ambitious.” It enshrines the culture of death into law and ignores science.
ThinkProgress said the bill would have strengthened “the precedent that was established under Roe v. Wade” and would have also prevented “state lawmakers from enacting restrictions in this area that aren’t based on scientific evidence.”
Referencing the fact that many states have enacted laws that require abortion clinics to adhere to the same health and safety regulations as other medical facilities, ThinkProgress continued:
Although Roe is technically still the law of the land, state lawmakers have successfully undermined women’s reproductive rights by enacting medically unnecessary barriers to abortion services. These restrictions are intended to attack abortion access from all angles, typically cloaked in the language of “women’s health and safety.” States across the country have imposed forced ultrasound requirements, mandatory waiting periods, restrictions on the administration of the abortion pill, and burdensome clinic regulations.
Susan Sutherland, vice president of Colorado Right to Life, told CNS News that while the goal of the measure was “horrific,” its broad language rendered it “probably the worst bill we’ve ever seen.”
State Sen. Andy Kerr (D), who sponsored the legislation, said Democrats abandoned the bill to avoid gridlock by Republicans.
“We weren’t ready to let this session be overshadowed” by the abortion measure, Kerr said.
Republicans in the Colorado Senate, however, said that while they all planned to vote against the abortion bill, they had not planned to use the measure to block other legislation.
“That’s ridiculous,” said state Senate GOP Leader Bill Cadman. “What they ran into was a firestorm of public dissent.”
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