2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Planned Parenthood cites 2012 ‘champs’ and ‘chumps’

The Colorado Statesman

Reflecting a national debate on whether there is a “war on women,” Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has released its Colorado legislative scorecard for the year, evaluating lawmakers and policy based on reproductive health care issues.

Through its lobbying organization, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado, the organization has designated “champs” and “chumps” from the 2012 legislative session, mostly focused on bills that they believe would have taken away a woman’s right to choose.

“As we reflect on Colorado’s 2012 legislative session, one thing is clear: the ‘war on women’ made its way to Colorado,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado. “Not only did we see anti-woman and anti-family legislation, several lawmakers demonstrated their clear opposition to basic access to women’s health care services.”

The sponsors of legislation that many feared would have created so-called “personhood” in Colorado whereby constitutional rights are applied to a fetus, were labeled “chumps.” Planned Parenthood points out that Colorado voters rejected such proposals in 2008 and 2010, and that voters will likely be faced with the question again this year.

The two bills that were feared to create personhood were House Bill 1130, sponsored by Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, and Senate Bill 125, sponsored by Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, and Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker. Both bills tried to create separate so-called “fetal homicide” penalties in Colorado, but critics said the consequence would have been personhood. Both bills died.

Another bill of contention for Planned Parenthood was Senate Memorial 3, a resolution sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, that would have urged Congress to pass the controversial Blunt amendment, named for its sponsor, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. The amendment would have allowed insurers to opt out of providing contraceptive coverage over religious or moral

objections. Neville’s largely symbolic memorial died along with the Blunt amendment.

“These bills did not reflect Colorado values,” said Alderman. “Rather than supporting Colorado women and families, many in our legislature decided to take an anti-woman, anti-family stance, and failed to live up to their duties as public servants.”

Planned Parenthood carried that point of view into the civil unions debate, frustrated that Republican leadership killed a bill that would have permitted same-sex civil unions in Colorado.

Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, was allowed to die on the House calendar along with 29 other bills in the waning hours of the legislature in a last-ditch effort by Republicans to kill the civil unions bill. The governor called a special session of the legislature to address the bill, but Republicans killed the legislation before it made it to the floor.

“PPRM also joined our coalition partners in dismay and disappointment over the demise of the Colorado Civil Union Act during the special session,” said Vicki Cowart, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

‘Champs’

There were several “champs” for Planned Parenthood over the course of the session as well.

Planned Parenthood hailed Sens. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, and Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, and Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, as heroes for introducing Senate Bill 93, which would have required Colorado hospitals to provide notice to patients if there are services not provided due to religious or moral beliefs. The bill died.

Planned Parenthood was also pleased with Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, for in-cluding an amendment to the state budget that would have forbid the use of state money for vasectomies or the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Pabon withdrew the amendment, saying he only introduced it to call attention to recent
attacks on female reproductive health care.

Democrats were also hailed by Planned Parenthood for offering another amendment to the state budget that would have clarified that the state prohibition on public funding of abortion may not be applied to birth control. The amendment failed.

“We expected 2012 to usher in harmful bills targeting Colorado women and families, but thankfully our champions in the House and Senate as well as our advocates in the community did not sit idly by,” Cowart concluded.

-Peter@coloradostatesman.com