DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado lawmaker’s comments that an attack on a woman whose unborn child was cut from her womb was a “curse of God” caused by U.S. policy on abortion drew criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike on Thursday.
Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican member of the state House of Representatives from Colorado Springs, made the remarks on his “Pray in Jesus Name” satellite television show.
“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb,” said Klingenschmitt, a minister and retired U.S. Navy chaplain.
“And part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.”
He was referring to the case of Michelle Wilkins, a 26-year-old Colorado woman whose fetus was cut from her last week by a woman who lured the victim using an online ad for baby clothes.
Wilkins survived the attack, but the fetus, described by the coroner as a “34-week gestation female,” died.
Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, the Democratic speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, said Klingenschmitt’s words were “reprehensible and disrespectful.”
“Given the sensitive nature of the events, as well as respect for the victim and her family, I’m not going to comment any further,” Hullinghorst said.
Fellow Republicans distanced themselves from Klingenschmitt’s remarks.
“Gordon has the right to exercise his First Amendment protection of free speech,” state Republican Party Chairman Steve House said in a statement. “Gordon does not speak on behalf of the ... party and to suggest otherwise would be inaccurate and dishonest.”
Klingenschmitt did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday, but he told the local Fox TV affiliate that he had only been quoting the Bible.
The woman accused in the attack, 34-year-old Dynel Lane, is being held in the Boulder County jail on a $2 million bond and is due in court on Friday for the formal filing of charges.
Police said Lane admitted to detectives that she “removed” the fetus from Wilkins.
The victim’s relatives said in a statement on the gofundme.com website that she is out of the hospital and in a “safe place” as she recovers from her wounds.
“Michelle believes her recovery is directly aided by the prayers and positive energy she is receiving,” they said.
Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech