State lawmakers working on bills on emergency contraception, abortion
DENVER – Less than a month into the legislative session, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are working on measures that touch on hotly contested social issues.Those include a bill to define when life begins, an effort to crack down on bullying, and a proposed requirement to tell rape victims about contraception.On Monday, members of the House passed a nonbinding resolution backing a national “No Name-Calling Week”, an anti-bullying measure created by the New York-based Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. The measure backs speaking out against the bullying of students for any reason but includes a student’s sexual orientation as one possible cause along with things like a student’s weight or faith.This comes at the same time leaders are promising to buckle down and work on the state’s budget crisis.Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, recalled being teased for his red hair when he was a boy but said children can become stronger for enduring taunts. Sponsor Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, said Columbine shows that sometimes bullying “builds killers” instead of character.”You have to pick your battles and this should not be one of the things that Republicans pick to oppose,” she said.Later in the day, a House committee approved a measure requiring hospital workers to tell rape victims about the availability of emergency contraception, a high dosage of birth control pills that can prevent a woman from getting pregnant. Lawmakers heard conflicting reports about whether the pills can also prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted in a woman’s uterus, touching off debate over whether it amounts to abortion.Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, who backed the measure for the past two years, voted against it this time after realizing that Catholic hospitals have to participate and victims don’t have to be told about other options, including adoption. The bill, which will next be voted on by the full House, does allow individuals to refuse to pass on the information if they have moral or religious objections.Stafford, who was invited to attend an abortion rights rally following her support last year, said she thinks the bill has become more about “going after the gonads” of the anti-abortion community.”They’re saying let’s put another notch on the belt for the pro-choice movement,” she said.Sponsor Rep. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, said the bill will prevent abortions because women who are raped will learn how they can prevent a pregnancy. She expects the bill to pass both the House and the Senate, both of which are controlled by Democrats for the first time in 42 years, but said whether it becomes law will probably depend on Republican Gov. Bill Owens.”I would hope he would consider it as a compassionate response to a rape victim and that he puts his daughter Monica’s face on the victim,” she said.Owens’ spokesman Dan Hopkins said Owens had no position on the bill because he hadn’t reviewed it.According to Colorado law, pregnancy doesn’t begin until implantation occurs but Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has introduced a bill to change that. His measure would define it as beginning at conception.Republicans have also introduced two bills related to abortion.On Tuesday, a Democratic bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against an employee because of their sexual orientation will get its first hearing before a Senate committee.
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