Abortion ‘protection’ bill moves forward in House following Republican effort to stall

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Abortion opponents gathered outside the state Capitol in Denver for a rally that also drew some counter protesters on Saturday, March 12, 2022.

Updated 1:30 p.m. on March 12, 2022

After nearly 24 hours of debate, a divisive bill that would codify legal abortion in state law advanced in the House, winning preliminary approval ahead of a final vote next week. The overnight affair at the state Capitol may have been one of the longest single-bill debates in state history.

“We all have very strong opinions, very strong values when it comes to the topic of reproductive health care and reproductive rights,” Democratic state Rep. Cathy Kipp of Fort Collins said in support of the measure. “Empowering women is part of what reproductive health care and health rights are all about.”

Abortion opponents responded 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.”

A couple hundred people gathered, along with a small group of nearby counter-protesters who blared sirens and shouted during speeches.

“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.”

A final vote on the bill could come as soon as Monday. At that stage, lawmakers are only allowed to speak for a limited time, meaning there won't be a repeat of the weekend filibuster. It will then move on to the Senate. 

“This has been, from what I’m being told, one of the longer debates in the House of Representatives’ history, so that’s at least something to be commended and celebrated,” Rep. Williams said near the end of a lengthy debate that started late Friday morning.

“This is literally a bill about life and death," he said. "The individual, that human being inside that womb is life, and that life should be protected."

The debate prompted many personal stories and passionate pleas from both sides of the aisle. Republican lawmakers attempted to stall the bill’s progress with a bevy of proposed amendments, all of which were rejected by majority Democrats.

"It’s unlikely that we are ever going to change each other's mind or even potentially be able to truly stand in another's shoes on this issue," Democratic state Rep. Karen McCormick said.

"It’s also with tremendous understanding and compassion for every person that’s living with a uterus that I will enthusiastically, without hesitation ... vote in favor of this bill to keep abortion and all other reproductive health care decisions legal, safe … and to keep government from interfering with any of those private decisions."

The bill has enough sponsors in both chambers — nearly all of the legislature’s Democratic members have put their names on it — to essentially guarantee its passage.

CPR's Megan Verlee contributed to this report.