Lawmakers turn down born infant protection bill

State lawmakers voted down a bill March 3 intended to protect infants born after botched abortions, saying the legislation “is not needed.”

Legislators on a House committee struggled with questions about life while hearing testimony on the Born-Alive Act at the state Capitol before Democrats rejected the legislation by a vote of 6-7.

Opponents to the bill and some Democrats on the committee argued a law protecting infants is already stated in federal law.

“It is solving a non-existent problem,” Karen Middleton, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, testified to the committee. “The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of federal law already states this is a situation that should not occur. There is no problem to be solved here. We do not believe this occurs here.”

Proponents shot back that failed abortions do occur, and when it does, infants deserve appropriate medical care if born alive.

Sarah Zagorski, executive director of Colorado Citizens for Life, said it would save infants just like her.

“If my mother hadn’t fought for me, I wouldn’t be here today,” the 25-year-old testified.

Zagorski shared how doctors recommended abortion to her mother because of suspected long-term disabilities but after being born alive, her mother requested medical care.

“My life matters. I have value and I have since the very beginning. Let’s hope and pray my situation isn’t being repeated here,” she told the committee.

Shortly after the bill failed, the Colorado Catholic Conference stated in an email that it was disappointed at the lack of bi-partisan support.

“It is deeply disappointing that Democrats on this committee choose to vote against protecting innocent, defenseless human life,” the conference stated. “The federal government and a majority of states have adopted Born-Alive Infant Protection legislation; it is a great misfortune that Colorado couldn’t do the same.”

Similar protection acts have passed some 30 states’ legislatures in the U.S. including at the federal level. In 2002, Democrats and Republicans passed the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, reportedly drawing the support of Democrats.

Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Colorado Springs, who attends St. Dominic Church in Colorado Springs, said she decided to sponsor the bill when thinking about abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in Philadelphia of murdering three viable babies after delivering them.

While she acknowledged during the hearing there were no known cases of killing infants born alive, Landgraf said she wanted preventative measures.

“I would like to make sure that it isn’t and that it won’t happen here,” she told the Denver Catholic.

The bill would have required a physician performing an abortion to take “medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health” of an infant if there are signs of life: a heartbeat, breathing, an umbilical cord pulsation or movement.

Opponents said they worried it limited abortion in Colorado where it’s legal to get a late-term abortion while supporters wanted assurances that there would be protections for infants at private hospitals where the federal protection act did not apply.

Landgraf said the federal bill would have expanded to protect infants at all hospitals and under all providers.

“This is about keeping a baby born alive, alive,” Landgraf told the Denver Catholic. “They deserve to be treated like any other baby and given a chance.”

 

Legislative Watch
The Colorado Catholic Conference is involved in supporting and opposing other bills during this legislative session. Click here for an updated list of proposed legislation being considered by state lawmakers.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash