Longmont Killer Already Faces Life Sentence

04/20/2015 11:09 pm ET | Updated Jun 20, 2015

At the heart of Thursday's Denver Post editorial supporting a personhood bill introduced by State Sen. Bill Cadman is the argument that Colorado needs a new law to penalize people like Dynel Lane, who faces over 100 years in prison for cutting Michelle Wilkins's fetus from her womb.

But just last year, The Post argued that existing Colorado law, specifically addressing crimes against pregnant women, was sufficient for cases like Wilkins's. The 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women law balances severe penalties for crimes harming fetuses with the preservation of abortion rights and the protection of pregnant women from criminal investigation.

A 2013 law made it a felony to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy, but it is a Class 3 felony with a sentencing range of 10 to 32 years unless the mother dies -- when it becomes a Class 2 felony. The Class 3 felony is utterly inadequate.

But when The Post opposed last year's personhood amendment, called Amendment 67, the newspaper argued that even a "horrific incident" did not justify a new law because "the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix." Here's what The Post wrote last year:

The horrific incident laid bare a gap in Colorado law that did not allow authorities to charge the drunken driver with anything for the loss of Brady [an eight-month-old fetus].

The Yes on 67 campaign attempts to capitalize on this circumstance, saying the amendment is needed to protect pregnant mothers from violence. Proponents conveniently ignore the fact that the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.

It's because of this 2013 "statutory fix" that Lane faces the 100-year prison term, because the 2013 Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women law allows charges to be added on top of one another, over and above the Class 3 felony.

The severe penalties of Colorado's 2013 law were apparently good enough for The Post last year, but now the statute is suddenly inadequate? What gives?

Clearly, both Cadman's bill and Amendment 67 are attempts to take advantage of nightmarish incidents to pass different versions of "personhood." Colorado's 2013 law, considered the gold standard in balancing women's rights with criminal justice, was a good argument against Amendment 67, as The Post understood at the time.

Newspaper editorials are supposed to be consistent and above-the-fray, so you'd expect The Post to point again to the 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women law and argue against Cadman's personhood bill. But, alas, no, and the logic of the inconsistency escapes me.