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Colorado Democrats push bill to deny unborn children protections from wrongful death

LifeSiteNews staff

DENVER, CO, April 8, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Three Democrat members of the Colorado House of Representatives have introduced a radical law specifically intended to deny all unborn children - even those who are viable and born alive - any protection under the Colorado Wrongful Death Act.

Rep. Mike Foote is one of the state representatives who introduced HB 1324. Foote, who proudly showcases endorsements from the National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood on his website, is also the local state representative of Heather Surovik, a young mother who lost her 8 pound son, Brady, after a repeat drunk driver slammed into her car two years ago.

After recovering from the emotional trauma of losing her son, Heather led a group of grassroots activists in gathering over 120,000 signatures in favour of putting the Brady Amendment on the 2014 general election ballot in Colorado.

The Brady Amendment extends the protection of the law to unborn children by recognizing them as persons within the Colorado Criminal Code and the Colorado Wrongful Death Act.

Rep. Foote seems intent on neutralizing Heather’s efforts on behalf of her deceased son.  Having introduced and passed a bill last session that ensures no homicide charges can be brought for the reckless killing of unborn children, Foote is now promoting a bill that would also ensure the unborn child will have no legal recognition in Colorado courts during civil proceedings for wrongful death.

The Colorado Catholic Conference has come out in opposition to Foote’s latest bill. They state in an action alert, “If this law passes Colorado will be the only State in the country that does not, at the very least, allow for a wrongful death action to be brought on behalf of a child who is injured in the womb, born and dies after.  This change in Colorado's wrongful death statute is a grave injustice to both the child and the child's family."

Last year, a Catholic hospital in the Catholic Health Initiatives chain in Colorado was forced to issue a formal apology after media reported that the hospital successfully defeated a wrongful death suit on behalf of two 28 week unborn children by arguing that the viable children in the womb were not persons under Colorado law. Later, representatives for the Catholic hospital stated in an open letter that the decision to argue that unborn children are not persons was “morally wrong.”

Nevertheless, the attorneys for the Catholic hospital sued and bankrupted Jeremy Stodghill, the bereaved husband of the dead mom and father of the dead twins.  The Catholic Conference of Colorado is also choosing not to support Heather’s efforts to amend the Colorado constitution.

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The relationship between the Colorado Catholic Conference and Colorado personhood activists, many of whom are Catholic, has been chilly at best.  In 2008, in a letter explaining its refusal to participate in the collection of signatures for a personhood amendment that would define the legal meaning of the term person to include all unborn children, the Catholic Conference stated that “the Catholic Bishops of Colorado decline to support its passage because it does not provide a realistic opportunity for ending or even reducing abortions in Colorado.” 

Instead, the bishops advised the activists to pursue more realistic measures such as “increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women which result in the death of the unborn child.”

Again, in 2010 when activists sought a personhood amendment to the Colorado constitution, the Catholic bishops stated, “Such a strategy will divert valuable resources away from other more constructive efforts in defense of human life such as enacting a fetal homicide law.” The bishops reiterated the point in 2012.

In 2012, with the tragic death of baby Brady, Colorado pro-life activists, led by Brady’s mother herself, began circulating a petition to enact the Brady amendment, a fetal homicide law. The bishops have said they are not collecting signatures for the amendment, but are allowing parish priests to do so if they choose.

In direct opposition to the Brady Amendment, the bill proposed by Rep. Foote specifically cites and overturns the Gonzales v. Mascarenas case in which the Colorado Court of Appeals found that a wrongful death suit could be maintained for the death of a non-viable child so long as the child was born alive.   Sections 1)d through 1)f of HB 1324 state that:

(d) Therefore, nothing in this act shall be construed to confer legal personhood, or any rights associated with that status, upon a human being at any time prior to live birth;

(e) This act clarifies that the term "person" as used in the "Colorado Wrongful Death Act", section 13-21-202, Colorado Revised Statutes, does not include an unborn human being;

(f) This act is intended to, and shall, supersede any contrary judicial construction of Colorado law, including, without limitation, the Colorado court of appeals' decision in Gonzales v. Mascarenas, 190 P.3d 14 826 (Colo. App. 2008)

Gonzales v. Mascarenas, which Mr. Foote’s bill seeks to overturn, held that the view “that a child, not viable at the time of injury, is not a ‘person’ under that state’s wrongful death act despite being born alive ... is clearly the minority view.”

However, HB 1324 is even more radical than the minority view cited in Gonzales for it states much more broadly that no unborn human being, regardless of any factors, shall have any of the rights associated with being a person until after live birth.

HB 1324 highlights the need for a constitutional amendment that recognizes the legal rights of all unborn children in all facets of the law, for as is clear from the bill itself, the abortion industry and legislators supported by them, will stop at nothing to dehumanize the unborn child.

To view Heather Surovik’s heart wrenching tale please visit www.avoiceforbrady.com.

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