Colo. Senate Passes Bill Requiring HIV Testing for Pregnant Women

The Colorado Senate on Wednesday approved a bill (S.B. 179) requiring HIV testing for pregnant women to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of the virus, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports. The bill would make several changes to a current state law regarding communicable diseases, and the HIV provision allows pregnant women to opt out of testing. Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D), a nurse and the bill's sponsor, said the risk of MTCT can be reduced from 25% to about 2% with drugs and preventive care. Sen. Dave Schultheis (R) was the only senator to vote against the bill, saying that if more infants are born HIV-positive, society will be taught about the risks of promiscuous sex (Colorado Springs Gazette, 2/25). During the bill's debate, Schultheis said sexual promiscuity "causes a lot of problems in our state, one of which, obviously, is the contraction of HIV" (Ingold, Denver Post, 2/26).

Schultheis said, "We do things continually to remove the consequences of poor behavior, unacceptable behavior, quite frankly." He added that doing so is a way of "de facto endorsing the behavior" and that "if society begins to see the consequences, they will start to discuss the behavior in those terms." Schultheis also said that not protecting people from the consequences of sexual promiscuity can be seen as more compassionate in the long run because others might change their behavior after witnessing the impact it can have (Colorado Springs Gazette, 2/25). Tochtrop said that HIV transmission does not occur only through sexual intercourse but can result "from many other things, contaminated blood for one" (Denver Post, 2/26).

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