Democrats kill bill requiring providers to show fetus ultrasound to abortion patients

Protesters dressed as handmaid gathered in the state Capitol before a hearing on two bills that would add regulations to abortions on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Photo by John Herrick.

Democrats on Thursday blocked a bill that would have required doctors to offer women seeking an abortion an ultrasound of the fetus 24 hours before the procedure and, if available, an audio of its heartbeat. Doctors also would have had to to inform the patient of the health risks of an abortion.

The bill failed in the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee on a party line 7-6 vote.

Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono, a lead sponsor on the bill, told committee members that the measure would help ensure that women are fully informed when they seek an abortion.

“If I had seen my baby, if I had heard a heartbeat, I really don’t think I could have stopped that heartbeat,” said Christy Rodriguez, executive director of the anti-abortion group Colorado Campaign for Life.

But doctors and women who testified on the bill said it could lead to physicians giving out medically inaccurate information. And other provisions of the bill, they said, would have the effect of making it harder to get an abortion.

Saine has proposed similar bills in the last two years without success. It is one of three bills introduced this legislative session that would restrict or criminalize abortion. In a split legislature, with a Democrat in the governor’s office, the bills are destined to go nowhere.

Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey, R-Eaton and Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, among others, would make it a crime to perform an abortion. Voters have rejected similar personhood proposals, which define life as beginning at conception, when they voted down ballot measures in 2008, 2010 and 2014. The two have proposed the same bill every year since at least 2016. 

When a lawmaker asked about criminalizing a constitutionally protected right to an abortion, Humphrey told the committee that Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that guaranteed this right, needs to be challenged. 

The committee is expected to vote this proposal down as well Thursday night. 

Colorado received a B- on reproductive health and rights, according to a report by the Population Institute, which promotes access to family planning information, education and services. The report said 27 percent of women in Colorado live in a county without an abortion provider. 

These efforts to put up barriers to reproductive health services are unconscionable, said Reverend Dr. Dawn Riley Duval, co-founder of Soul 2 Soul, a faith-based racial justice organization, at a rally inside the Capitol before the committee hearing.  

“Time and time again I have witnessed the beauty and efficacy of religious communities perverted in the quest to use individual beliefs as a license to discriminate against women,” Duval told the crowd. 

Photo: Protesters dressed as handmaidens gathered in the state Capitol on Thursday before a hearing on two bills that would further regulate or outlaw abortion. Photo by John Herrick.