By Ivan Moreno
DENVER -- Tempers and props ruled the Colorado Senate during a debate Friday urging Congress to adopt a failed proposal that would allow insurance plans to deny contraception coverage for women on moral and religious grounds.
Republicans were furious when Democratic women opposing provisions in the so-called Blunt Amendment unfurled a banner spanning nearly the length of the Senate chamber showing several stop signs to indicate instances in which birth control could be denied.
Republican leaders complained and asked Democrats to take down the banner, which later lay crumpled on the floor as the rest of the debate continued.
The symbolic measure, sponsored by Republican Sen. Tim Neville, was debated and rejected along party lines as expected in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Democrats described the Blunt Amendment, which the U.S. Senate rejected last month, as a war on women.
Republicans said the measure was needed to protect religious freedoms.
The Colorado debate comes in the waning days of the session with substantial legislation pending, including referring a measure to voters to change the state's personnel system, and overhauling regulations for telecom providers -- a move involving tens of millions of dollars.
Democratic Sen. Morgan Carroll said Neville's Senate memorial deserved debate from the women on the Senate floor.
"For the women that are here, for us this is not political. This is personal," she said. "It is about our rights ... I think this has at least an equal dignity, an equal worth of anything we're going to debate here."
Democratic Sen. Angela Giron accused Republicans of using women's bodies as "political pawns."
Republican Sen. Ellen Roberts disagreed.
"This is a manufactured war on the Senate floor. Women against women, and I find that very difficult to swallow," she said.
Roberts supported the measure and argued that it was a matter of religious freedom. She said the "issue has been twisted" for partisan reasons.
Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman opposed the memorial but said he agreed with Roberts that the debate had taken an unfortunate turn.
"And there are some things that have come to the Senate floor, whether it be props or visual displays or perhaps even this memorial itself, that ask us to do something that isn't really our finest moment," he said. "I wish none of this had come to the floor."
Heated debate in Colorado Senate over birth control
By Ivan Moreno