After nearly 24 hours of debate between Republicans and Democrats, Colorado's House of Representatives passed a highly disputed bill allowing unrestricted access to abortion.
State lawmakers began the discussion over House Bill 1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, Friday morning and finished at about 11 a.m. Saturday, The Colorado Sun reports.
The measure eliminates the need for parental notification and bans preborn children from having rights under the laws of the state.
According to its sponsors, "The bill, declares that every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state."
The debate over HB 1279 is said to be the longest in the House's history.
"I'm so proud of our Colorado Republicans who fought ALL night and set a record for the longest legislative debate in state history to try and stop the most extreme abortion bill in the nation," said Colorado Republican Party chair Kristi Burton Brown in a Saturday statement.
According to Colorado Public Radio News, pro-life protesters responded to the news by rallying outside the Capitol in Denver on Saturday.
"I think this bill is going way way way too far," said Carrie Kudrna of Broomfield. "I don't even want to live in this state if we do something like this. It's just horrendous. We can't promote that we're the destination abortion center. We just need to protect lives."
Several hundred pro-life advocates gathered, along with a small group of counter-protesters.
Hundreds of Coloradans came to the west steps of the state Capitol today to rally AGAINST HB 1279 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA). House members joined the rally after over 24 hours of floor debate on the bill! Thank you! Keep up the fight in the Senate! #coleg #copolitics pic.twitter.com/27hlEeiszC
— CO Catholic Conference (@cocatholicconf) March 13, 2022
"We've been fighting for 24 hours," Republican state Rep. Dave Williams told the crowd after leaving the chamber. "We did this for you, we did this for the babies, we did this for the unborn children who are in the womb. We did what we could, but the fight's not over."
He added, "This is literally a bill about life and death. The individual, that human being inside that womb is life, and that life should be protected."
Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute, called the bill "an appalling first for abortion law" within the state of Colorado.
"A strong majority of Americans support some restrictions on abortion. This radical bill allows for no restrictions, including parental notification, and specifically bans the state of Colorado from attributing any rights to preborn children," Hunt warned.
"Some of the worst moments in American history are when governments codify into law that classes of human beings are not worthy of rights under the law," he said.
The Centennial Institute calls the bill "dangerous," saying it puts women's health at risk by restricting common-sense safety regulations on abortion facilities.
"For example, requiring a woman to have a consultation with a doctor before taking abortion pills would be banned. This seriously threatens the health of women receiving an abortion," the institute warns. "The law will invalidate all existing safeguards on abortion and abortion operations."
A final vote on the bill could come as soon as Monday, at which point lawmakers would only be allowed to speak for a limited time. It will then move on to the Senate and through the Democratic-controlled legislature before making its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis (D).
Polis has reportedly said he will sign the bill into law.
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