Anti-Choice Legislation Mills Descend on Colorado, Report Finds

Americans United for Life, a national anti-choice organization, is stepping up its legislative activities in the state, along with other groups looking to end legal abortion.

Americans United for Life, a national anti-choice organization, is stepping up its legislative activities in the state, along with other groups looking to end legal abortion. Shutterstock

National anti-choice organizations are opening up a “new front in Colorado,” according to a report released this week by NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado.

The report, “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado,” states that last year Republican lawmakers in Colorado introduced five bills and one resolution based on copycat legislation provided by Americans United for Life (AUL), a Washington, D.C. legislation mill focused on overturning Roe v. Wade and ending legal abortion access across the country.

Legislation mills produce templates for laws that can be proposed in governments across the country.

None of the AUL legislation passed in Colorado, but the report notes that of “118 state laws restricting abortion from 2011 to 2014, nearly one-third were based on legislation from the AUL or with assistance from AUL staff or supporters.”

Colorado Republicans have a one-seat majority in the state senate and Democrats control the house.

Democratic lawmakers and Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, discussed the AUL bills and Republican efforts to pass them during a webinar at the release of the report.

State Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver), a medical doctor, criticized an AUL bill from the 2015 legislative session that would have required “accurate ultrasound and medical information be provided by a physician to a woman who may be considering the termination of a pregnancy.” The bill, which she said was poorly understood by the Republicans promoting it, illustrates the danger of trying to pass legislation from out-of-state sources “without talking to everyday constituents” about it, said Aguilar.

Another AUL bill would have established fetal personhood in Colorado.

“It was completely obvious that [Republican sponsors] had not taken the time to make it state-specific legislation but instead were cutting and pasting from other states’ bills,” said State Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood).

Testifying in support of these bills were AUL President and CEO Charmaine Yoest, who according to the report is not a medical doctor, as well as witnesses from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an anti-choice organization based in Arizona.

The 2015 legislative session saw Michael Norton, ADF senior counsel, testify in support of at least six bills, four of which were based on copycat AUL legislation, according to the “Against Our Will” report.

“He represented Colorado Family Action, an anti-choice organization associated with CitizenLink, Focus on the Family, ADF, and Family Research Council, on at least four bills and Colorado Christian University on one bill,” notes the report, which was authored by Morgan Falls, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s legislative fellow.

Calls to the ADF and AUL were not immediately returned.

“We know that Republican elected officials are under tremendous pressure to toe the line, but voters are not with them on this,” said NARAL’s Middleton, in addressing whether anti-choice issues will make a difference in November’s election.

Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Englewood) urged pro-choice activists not to assume anti-choice legislation will be defeated in Colorado.

“We can’t consider this over,” Kagan said. “We can’t consider this won. We have to continue to protect our freedoms. If we lower our guard, we will regret it. Sadly, we have to keep fighting.”