Republican Senate President Bill Cadman took to the radio yesterday to announce plans to introduce a bill allowing prosecutors to treat a fetus as the victim of a crime but, apparently, with specific language allowing for abortion.
Cadman told KNUS 710-AM that his bill “does provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires.”
Colorado already has a law, passed in 2013, allowing prosecutors to file additional charges, but not murder, in a crime involving the destruction of a fetus.
To ensure that the law does not turn into a back-door abortion ban, the measure specifically identifies the pregnant woman as the victim of the crime and states that nothing “shall be construed to confer the status of ‘person’ upon a human embryo, fetus or unborn child at any state of development prior to live birth.”
This anti-personhood language enraged anti-choice Republicans, like Sen. Scott Renfroe, who during a 2013 committee hearing, called the legislation the “Let’s-Go-on-Killing-Babies” bill.
In 2011, a bipartisan attempt to pass a similar bill was killed over similar objections by abortion foes.
Yet, when asked on the radio yesterday about why these types of measures did not become law, Cadman blamed pro-choice legislators.
“Well,” replied Cadman, “attempts have been made over the years, but they have been resoundingly defeated on a party-line basis. Frankly, I think much of it is out of political correctness and probably, to be more specific, a fear of eliminating the right of those who wish to terminate their pregnancies over the wish of those to keep theirs.”
On the radio yesterday (See below.), Cadman referenced 38 states with “fetal homicide” laws like the one he’s proposing. As you can see here, these laws vary widely, with 23 defining life at early stages of development and are considered personhood measures. Some specifically exempt abortion or exclude pregnant women as perpetrators. Some, like Iowa’s, allow for penalties for terminating a pregnancy without the consent of the pregnant person.
Cadman did not provide details of his bill.
Anti-abortion activists said in 2013 that they launched last year’s “personhood” initiative in response to the failure of a “fetal-homicide” bill here in Colorado, that would have conferred legal rights to a fetus and opened the door to a state-wide abortion ban. Colorado’s failed personhood amendment would have gone beyond any fetal-homicide law currently on the books.
Partial Transcript of GOP Senate President Bill Cadman on KNUS’ Kelley and Company, March 30, 2015:
Krista Kafer: Right now, all we have now is this little law that makes it illegal to terminate the pregnancy of a woman that wants to keep her baby. What are you planning to do?
Cadman: At the core, what you are talking about is what passed in 2013 which, obviously, created the crime of unlawfully terminating a pregnancy, which is all about the woman. But what about the other victim? What about the victim, just like in this case. And there have been countless others. What about the baby? Why doesn’t a baby in Colorado, or an infant, or whatever you want to define–why don’t they receive the same protection in Colorado that they do in 38 other states? And that’s what we are proposing in Colorado is providing the same protection in Colorado to both victims that they would receive in 38 other states.
Steve Kelley: So you are going to introduce a fetal homicide bill?
Cadman: Right. A protection for the unborn. A protection for both victims in a case where a woman is violently attacked, just like in this recent case, in the recent situation in Longmont. And to provide justice, it’s to provide justice for both victims
Kelley: Well how is it that we haven’t had something that’s common-sense [like this]? …
Cadman: Well, attempts have been made over the years, but they have been resoundingly defeated on a party-line basis. Frankly, I think much of it is out of political correctness and probably, to be more specific, a fear of eliminating the right of those who wish to terminate their pregnancies over the wish of those to keep theirs.
…Kelley: How do you then placate those or assure those who would push against this that your ulterior motive is not incrementalism in trying to overturn abortion on demand?
Cadman: You know, it’s very clear, and the draft I’m working on is very clear. And I’m not exactly ready to release it. But it does provide a protection for a woman to do with her body as she desires. So, specific protections in the law. What we are really talking about is being able to prosecute a criminal for a criminal act and defining that that there are two victims in these situations, not just one. Sixty-six thousand children born in this state every year do not have the same protections as in 38 other states. We need to fix that.
Kafer: I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t get some pushback on the personhood side… Have you gotten any pushback from this crowd?
Cadman: That’s the nature of this place. But I think at its core, we would all agree that there is no justice if you cannot prosecute for a victim. And so, that’s a step in the process. And I have not received any opposition yet. But, again, the bill hasn’t been introduced. The language hasn’t been subject to review. But again, back to its core. It’s about providing justice that’s frankly deserved and demanded.