by Steven Ertelt
February 9, 2006
Denver, CO (LifeNews.com) — On a party line vote Thursday, Democratic members of a Colorado legislative panel killed legislation that would have protected pregnant women and their babies before birth by allowing criminals who assault them and kill or injure their child to be prosecuted for two crimes.
The House Judiciary Committee vote upset families members of those who have been victims of such violence.
Colorado Springs resident Erin-Lea Hanson told the Coloradoan newspaper that her unborn grandson "had as much a right to life as she did" when her pregnant daughter Amanda Lynn was murdered.
"His life was intentionally taken," she said.
"Another woman’s going to die, and that woman’s going to be pregnant, and her killer’s not going to be charged with two counts of first degree murder," she added.
The committee voted against the bill after Warren Hearn, one of the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country, testified against it. He claimed he would have to shut down his abortion business because he would be prosecuted for performing abortions.
However, Rep. David Schultheis, the bill’s sponsored, pointed out to the committee that the bill does not have anything to do with abortion and he noted that federal law and similar laws in dozens of other states have never prosecuted abortion practitioners.
"The real issue here is the homicide issue,” Schultheis said. “The abortion issue is not an issue in the bill.”
He said the committee vote against protecting Colorado women and their children disturbed him.
“This committee is so ideologue-oriented that they were not about to even acknowledge the personhood of the fetus,” Schultheis said, according to the newspaper report. “You tell that mother there with the photo that that wasn’t a child.”
Kate Horle, vice president for public affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, also testified against the pro-woman bill.
But Hanson said she would be back at the state legislature next year to press for passage of the measure.
In October 2003, Colorado prosecutors were upset that they could not charge a man in the death of an unborn child because the state has no law that allows prosecutors to hold him responsible.
Daniel Self, 46, was charged with killing a pregnant woman but couldn’t be charged in the death of her unborn son. At a hearing, District Judge Gil Martinez dismissed a charge of child abuse resulting in death.
Leah Gee, Self’s girlfriend, died two days after she was shot and her son was delivered by doctors via Caesarian section. He died two weeks later form complications.
At a preliminary hearing, specialists testified that Gee’s head wound directly caused her baby’s death. The boy suffered brain injuries as a result of Gee having a low level of oxygen for a long period of time.
Under state law on homicides, a person is defined as someone who is born and is alive at the time the homicide occurs. Schultheis’ bill would change that to include babies before birth.
"Jeremiah was not born at the time of the homicidal act," Martinez said.
TAKE ACTION: Contact the members of the committee and express your opinion about their vote. For more info see https://www.leg.state.co.us.