Denver, Colo -- The Offenses Against Unborn Children Act passed its first test yesterday at the Colorado Statehouse, after hours of intense and sometimes emotional testimony, when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB-268 on a 3-2 vote.
It now moves on to the entire Senate for debate.
Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) introduced the bill, an indication of the personal interest he’s taken in the issue. “Senate Bill 268 is about Justice,” Cadman said. “Without Senate Bill 268, Colorado will continue to be one of the very few states that exempt from prosecution people who harm or kill an unborn child, against the wishes of its mother. There are more than 60,000 babies born in Colorado every year. They should receive the same protection and justice under Colorado law that they would get in most other states and at the federal level.”
The bill permits an unborn child to be included in the definition of a person for purposes of prosecuting first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, and vehicular homicide. Under current Colorado law, a loophole exists that doesn’t allow murder charges to be brought in such cases.
This blind spot in law was highlighted most recently when the Boulder County District Attorney declined to bring murder charges in the violent death of Aurora Wilkins, who was cut from the body of her mother, Longmont resident Michelle Wilkins.
Those testifying in favor of the bill included seven active or former law enforcements officials, four of whom were prosecutors. All denied that the law would erode abortion rights or result in the prosecution of mothers for exercising those rights.
"The federal government and 38 states have done the right thing in enacting laws to protect the unborn child, but Colorado has not," said former Attorney General John Suthers. "In the 29 states that have state laws almost identical to this bill, those laws have not impinged on a woman's right to an abortion.” Suthers dismissed criticisms that anything in the law was unclear. "Courts are not having problems interpreting state statutes like this one,” he said. "Colorado should join the federal government and the other states that make fetal homicide a crime."