- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Colorado Democrats launched an election-year showdown over abortion rights, then delayed their own proposal Tuesday to avoid a public defeat.

The Senate was scheduled to debate a bill to guarantee that state or local policies won’t interfere with reproductive decisions such as abortion and contraception. Sponsored by Democrats, the proposal was pitched by backers as a safeguard against future attempts to ship away at reproductive rights.

But with a one-seat majority, Democrats were unable to vote on the measure as planned Tuesday when a Democrat left because he fell ill.

The delay came after more than 500 people rallied against the measure and prayed for senators to reject it.

“It is both extreme and dangerously ambiguous,” said Denver Catholic Archbishop Samuel Aquila, speaking through a bullhorn to protesters before the planned Senate vote.

Sponsors of the measure say it won’t change current abortion laws, just gird the rights of women from legislative interference. But Aquila and other opponents have said the measure is broadly written and could be interpreted as a challenge to any abortion limits.

“I’m not a big protester,” said Denver’s Sarah Rodriguez, who brought two children to the Capitol protest. “But I worry about no regulations in this area.”

The Senate scheduled the abortion bill to be reconsidered on Wednesday, though it wasn’t immediately clear when senators would reconsider it.

The measure is symbolic because the protections could always be changed by a future Legislature. But the measure would draw an election-year party contrast on a measure where Democrats think the public sides with them. The bill’s four Democratic sponsors are all from districts Democrats are eager to keep in their column.

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Online:

Senate Bill 175: https://bit.ly/1eruYvn


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