By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado lawmaker who said 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 was criticized by 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.
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 Denver Post newspaper, citing an official with the Boulder County District Attorney's Office, reported that Lane would not face murder charges in the case.
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, when reached late on Thursday, said his charity had donated $1,000 to a fundraising campaign for Wilkins on gofundme.com.
"I wear two hats, and what I do on Sunday is separate from what I do during the week at the legislature," Klingenschmitt said by phone.
The victim's relatives said in a statement on the gofundme.com page that she is out of the hospital and in a "safe place" while she recovers.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Beech)