Democrats early Friday morning shot down a trio of bills pushed by abortion opponents following an 11-hour marathon hearing that saw an effort to reverse abortions.
The bills that were rejected by the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on party-line votes included:
“These three bills are more of the old, tired attempts to interfere with women’s health care,” said Sarah Taylor-Nanista, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.
Republicans said they pushed the bills in an effort to protect women, though their critics said the measures were political.
“The reason why these attempts are continually repeatedly defeated in Colorado is because they do not reflect our values,” Taylor-Nanista said. “Everyone deserves quality health care and the ability to free discussion with health providers without regulation and government interference.”
The abortion reversal discussion was new for the legislature, though it fell in line with familiar talking points.
A woman who has an abortion takes a drug that blocks the hormone progesterone, which starts the abortion. Later she takes a second pill to complete the process.
It is believed that abortions can be stopped if the woman doesn’t take the second medication and is given progesterone.
Dr. George Delgado, medical director of the San Diego-based Culture of Life Family Services, who has led much of the national efforts around expanding access to the reversal method, said the treatment is safe and effective.
“Women who change their mind … have a right to know that they can have a second chance at choice,” testified Delgado.
A familiar face testifying on Thursday was former Rep. JoAnn Windholz, an Adams County Republican who referred to Planned Parenthood as the “real culprit” in the 2015 Colorado Springs shooting at an abortion clinic, which resulted in the deaths of three people.
Windholz lost her bid for re-election in November to Democrat Dafna Michaelson Jenet of Commerce City. Windholz is the president of pro-life religious group Crusade for Life.
“There were stories of regret,” Windholz said of women who have had an abortion.
“It is only common sense that health care information about this be provided to women in order for women to make wise choices. It doesn’t take away from their choice, but helps them make a better choice.”
Some women offered emotional testimony describing how the reversal method saved their child, while others shared how important the choice to have an abortion had been in their life. The usual religious undertones peppered the conversation.
Critics said the reversal method has never been tested in clinical trials and has not been approved by the FDA. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that progesterone can cause significant cardiovascular, nervous system and endocrine adverse reactions as well as other side effects.
“Why would we legislate the care a doctor provides a patient?” asked Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver. “I believe doctors should do what they do best: stick with evidence-based practices, and politicians should stay out of the doctor’s office.”
The other two bills offered a continuation of the abortion discussion, which takes place year after year whether the bills have a chance of passing or not.
As the debate wore into its ninth hour, lawmakers became testy, at times debating people who testified and engaging in a back-and-forth with each other.
Republicans expressed frustration with Democrats, suggesting that their colleagues on the other side of the aisle impugned motive.
“I am especially frustrated with the lack of respect the Democrats showed to many of the licensed medical professionals,” Everett said.
Abortion supporters, however, say the bills are part of a national effort led by “anti-choice” out-of-state groups.
“Coloradans strongly believe in the rights of women to control their own bodies and make their own personal, private medical decisions,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “But these national groups are determined to put politicians in between women and their doctors, even in a state like ours that believes in individual liberty.”