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Colorado lawmakers spend more than 24 hours debating bill that would make abortion a right

The legislation will have its third hearing in the state House of Representatives on Monday.

DENVER — While some states are rolling back abortion rights, Colorado lawmakers spent about 24 hours debating a bill that would make the right to an abortion part of state law. Democrats advanced the bill, HB 1279, this morning. 

The "Reproductive Health Equity Act" establishes a fundamental right to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion. This comes ahead of expected Supreme Court rulings that could undo the protections of Roe v. Wade.

 A pro-life rally began outside the Capitol, as legislators were still debating.

"You know I'm tired. I'm exhausted," said Democratic State Representative Matt Gray. "There was a lot of time talking and again, I uniquely had my kids here with me."

As the debate on the House floor went deep into the night and following morning, he had to come up with some clever ways to keep his kids busy and find them a comfy place to sleep. 

"It was politics and it was performative and OK. I signed up for this job, that's OK," he said. "Nobody changed their mind about abortion or reproductive health over the last 24 hours."

A sponsor of the bill, Democratic State Rep. Meg Froelich, said this legislation would give people the right to use or refuse contraception, the right to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth or to have an abortion. It also says there are no individual rights for fetuses, embryos or fertilized eggs. 

"It was about making sure we trust pregnant people to make their own private medical decisions and that those decisions be private without government interference," she said.

As for the hours upon hours of debate, Rep. Froelich said, "I would characterize it as giving folks a chance to say their piece."

As the debate inside the Capitol continued, a pro-life rally outside of it began. 

"The last 26 hours were quite amazing when House members essentially filibustered, were able to draw out for 26 hours a debate on HB 1279," said Executive Director of the Colorado Catholic Conference Brittany Vessely. "It really shows that this issue matters to Coloradans."

Vessely organized the protest Saturday along with other pro-life groups. 

"This bill was intentionally broad and far reaching. Coloradans do not have the wool pulled over their eyes. They know what's in this bill," she said. "They know this is an effort to make Colorado the most radical abortion state in the country and they say no."

Republican State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer also came to the rally, saying she's proud of the House members who held the debate for about 26 hours. 

"It will come over to the Senate and it will go to committee for testimony and hearing there and that's where the public has their opportunity to come and express their opinion, their comments in regards to the most extreme, barbaric, radical abortion law in our nation," said Sen. Kirkmeyer.

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