GOP Bill to Ban Abortion in CO Gets a 'Fair Hearing'

Colorado CapitolToday at 1:30PM in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, debate in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee will commence on a key piece of Republican legislation, House Bill 14-1133. As we've discussed in this space already, this bill has a simple purpose:

The bill prohibits abortion and makes a violation a class 3 felony.

Before the hearing at 1:00PM, a press conference/rally with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is scheduled outside the Old Supreme Court Chambers. The choice of venue for this hearing anticipates a large crowd, and it's anybody's guess as of now whether it will be overwhelmed with supporters of a total abortion ban in Colorado, opponents, or (mostly likely) both. Hours of emotional testimony is expected, after which the bill will almost certainly die at the hands of this Democratic-controlled committee.

For all the complaints at the beginning of the session — baseless whining, as it turned out — that Republican bills weren't receiving a fair hearing, House Bill 14-1133 wasn't sent to the so-called "kill committee." As we saw this year with failed attempt to repeal the 2013 gun safety laws, Republicans have failed to make good on their threats to pack legislative hearings with angry citizens — a prerequisite for any subsequent claim that they weren't treated fairly. In practice, hearings that were supposed to be standing room only weren't. Opponents of repealing last year's gun bills matched or even outnumbered gun rights activists. And by the end, everyone, including chagrined Republican legislators, were thanking Democrats for the fair hearings.

Today, Republicans will get another fair hearing — albeit for legislation smart Republicans wish had never been introduced. In one of the nation's most ardently and historically pro-choice states, the local GOP's dogmatic fixation with banning abortion has done tremendous political damage in recent years. But it's undeniable that Colorado Republicans own this bill, with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso himself signed on as a cosponsor.

Understanding all of this, Democrats of course are going to make as big a deal of the 2014 Republican Abortion Ban Bill™ as they possibly can. They have everything to gain politically from doing so, yes. But more than that, this is a trap that Republicans willingly place themselves in year after year. No one, in the too-often "sympathetic" media or anyone else, should give them a bit of cover.

It is who they are, folks. If Republicans don't like that, if that costs them elections, they can change. We have said for years that Republicans could regain the competitiveness they lost in this state a decade ago if they could take the edge off their divisive, wedge-issue dependent message. Moderates, left or right, are what win in this state, and Democrats have spent years cultivating that image. Last year, Democrats spent some of their political capital, giving Republicans at least a superficial opportunity to move to the coveted center.

Thanks to bills like this, Republicans have squandered that opportunity.

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