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At rally opposing radical Colorado abortion bill, message is clear: Women and babies deserve better

Hundreds gathered at the state capitol on Saturday, March 12, in opposition to a radical, limit-free abortion bill that state legislators are rushing through the House and Senate.

HB22-1279, also known as the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), was introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives on Thursday, March 3. The legislation was pushed through the House Health Committee on Wednesday, March 9 and was debated on the House Floor on Friday, March 11. It is expected to appear before Senate committee this week. Contact your representatives and stay tuned for the latest information at the Colorado Catholic Conference website.

If enacted, the bill will permit abortion-on-demand for any reason, potentially remove parental rights to receive notification of a minor receiving an abortion, permit abortion discrimination based on sex or race or ability level and remove all rights under law for a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus.

The bill is sponsored by almost all of Colorado’s Democrat legislators, and it has advanced this far strictly along party lines. During the Friday House session, state legislators set a record for the longest debate in Colorado history — a marathon 24-hour session – as pro-life representatives filibustered the bill from Friday morning until Saturday morning, just before the rally to oppose the bill began. The representatives who stood against the bill were greeted by thunderous applause as they finally left the capitol.

“Today’s filibuster and rally spoke loud and clear to the General Assembly: Coloradans do not want our state to be the most radical abortion state in the country,” said Brittany Vessely, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference. “Pro-life House members debated HB 1279 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) from 11 a.m. on Friday to the time of the rally, 11 a.m. on Saturday. It was arguably the longest filibuster in Colorado state history. The rally brought in hundreds of Coloradans to oppose RHEA. Despite the bill advancing to final vote in the House on Monday, it was a good day because the pro-Life community came together and made their voice heard! But the fight to stop RHEA will continue into the Senate.”

This bill is a preemptive response by Colorado state legislators to codify a right to abortion into state law as the federal supreme court is expected to issue a decision on Dobbs v. Jackson in June, which could overturn the legal precedent set in 1973 by Roe v. Wade. As the first state to legalize abortion even prior to Roe v. Wade, Colorado has a long history of failed efforts to ban or restrict abortions, despite polling that says most Coloradoans think there should be limits on abortion. The most recent of these failed efforts was Proposition 115, which appeared on the 2020 ballot and would have restricted abortions after 22 weeks.

Photo by André Escaleira

“1.3 million Coloradans voted in 2020 to restrict abortion to viability (22-weeks gestation),” Vessely said. “Even more Coloradans would agree the full-40 weeks-gestation goes too far. But proponents [of the RHEA] try to spin the narrative to fit their goal of making Colorado the most radical abortion state in the country — that is why they are pushing the bill through quickly to silence Colorado voters. Not only it is an affront to the lives of preborn children, it is an insult to Colorado voters, to whom bill sponsors are accountable.”

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Lauren Castillo, director of mission advancement for Students for Life of America, emceed the rally and reiterated the fact that this law is not aligned with what Coloradans and even most Americans want, and as such, should not be decided by legislators but rather by the people.

“This rally made it clear that the people of Colorado want a say in this bill, there is no reason something like this shouldn’t be voted on by the people,” Castillo said. “This bill is out of touch with what Coloradans want. This bill fails to empower and support those who face unplanned pregnancies and does nothing to uphold the dignity of the human person.”

The rally represented a diverse array of advocates from the pro-life community, including Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado Christian University, Focus on the Family, the Republican Party of Colorado, Democrats for Life of America and many more. Archbishop Aquila’s words were quite frank and met with applause from the crowd.

“They don’t understand the dignity of the human person,” he told the crowd. “Abortion is their god. We must be those who always witness to the truth and do it with charity and respect. Be not afraid. Witness to the truth.”

Photo by André Escaleira

Adriana Perez, who works directly with women who are facing unplanned pregnancies at Bella Health + Wellness, expressed that she’s been feeling much sorrow since this bill was introduced. The rally was a means for her to stand up and advocate that women deserve better than this law.

“I want to do more for the pro-life movement than simply saying, ‘I am Pro-Life,'” Perez said. “Working at Bella with actual women who are abortion vulnerable and hearing their stories has given me a window into the love of Christ and his suffering for people due to abortions. Most women do not want to make the choice to have an abortion, but the lack of support systems, current generation and social pressure often is the reason for them considering abortions.”

The rally also featured stirring testimonies from women who have had abortions in the past.

“I have seen lives changed and bettered because of my daughter,” shared Jennifer, who had an abortion when she was younger but later courageously chose life when she became pregnant with her daughter. “Witnessing her life continues to be the pleasure of my life.”

Another woman, Theresa, shared of her abortion: “I took life. I’m not telling you this because I’m proud of it. It took years of marinating in the pain of it before I had my children. I didn’t deserve that.” She said she learned the truth when she became a follower of Jesus Christ.

This week, the RHEA is expected to appear before a senate committee and possibly be passed by week’s end. Castillo and Vessely both implored the pro-life community to continue to voice their opposition to this bill.

“This is an intense spiritual battle, so please remember to pray for the spiritual protection for everyone serving in this movement,” Castillo said. “I promise that though stepping deeper into the fight to protect preborn babies and abolish abortion can be scary, you will never look back with a moment of regret for being on the right side of history.”

“The fight to stop HB 1279 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) is not over,” Vessely concluded. “It was introduced and put into committee in less than a week in the House. We expect it to move just as fast in the Senate.”

Contact your representatives and encourage them to vote “NO” on HB22-1279. The bill will appear before a Senate committee this week and will then advance for debate in the senate.

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