56.9 F
Denver
Saturday, September 25, 2021
HomeLocalOur voices make a difference

Our voices make a difference

Dr. Tom Newman wheeled himself to the microphone before a committee of state lawmakers and a crowd at the Capitol, who were gathered to listen to heart-wrenching testimony of personal trials and passionate views on both sides of physician-assisted suicide.

The doctor, who said he is a cancer survivor and uses a wheelchair, testified at the Capitol for the first time in February. He told lawmakers the destructive legislation would confuse the meaning of “death with dignity,” especially for the disabled like his son, who died of ALS.

“This bill dignifies suicide because it redefines it,” he said Feb. 6. “The words ‘death with dignity’ is a ploy. It’s a political marketing tool … to sell to the public the comforting idea of physicians’ tacit approval of suicide given by lethal means.”

After 11 hours of testimony from the public, lawmakers defeated the bill.

It was a victory for life and example of the critical role parishioners like Newman, of Risen Christ Parish, play in the political process at the state Capitol, said Jenny Kraska, executive director for the Colorado Catholic Conference.

“It was unexpected,” Kraska said of the bill’s failure. “It gave me faith in the process that people’s voices do make a difference. It wasn’t necessarily any one particular thing that got it killed. It was really a combination of things, and a big part of that was people’s participation.”

Votes count and participation makes a difference, she said, like when parishioners helped to defeat an abortion-rights bill in May 2014.

“Ever since Senate Bill 175 (failed to pass), there seems to be more of a commitment from people to be involved in the process, even if it’s just making a phone call or sending an email,” Kraska said.

By email, phone or in person, parishioners who voiced their opinions made a difference in the legislative session that ended May 6, she said. However, many Catholic-supported bills failed to pass a divided legislature at the Capitol, where partisanship determined the fate of many pro-life initiatives.

Parishioners can also influence the legislature by taking their faith to the voting booth.

“Ultimately, we have no one to blame but ourselves if things happen that we don’t like,” Kraska said. “We hold the power to a certain extent to vote people in and out of office and hold them accountable for how they do vote.”

Bills defeated by the Democrat-controlled House included tax credits for private school education, free exercise of religion on college campuses, licensing requirements for abortion clinics, and protection for unborn life after a failed abortion.

Particularly disappointing was the defeat of Senate Bill 268, the fetal homicide bill that would have recognized unborn babies as victims of certain crimes, Kraska said.

The bill was drafted in response to the attack on Michelle Wilkins and the death of her 7-month-old unborn baby in Longmont.

It’s an issue that should have drawn bipartisan support, but was voted down—a “deeply disappointing” decision, she commented.

“The failure to enact a fetal homicide law in Colorado is a grave miscarriage of justice that leaves future unborn victims of crime unrecognized in Colorado law,” the Colorado bishops said in a statement after it was defeated 5-6 along party lines May 4. “It is our hope that legislators in Colorado will recognize their error in judgment and seek to rectify this inadequacy in Colorado law as soon as possible. In the meantime, let us continue to pray for all unborn victims of crime and their families.”

Kraska said she believes many of these bills will return for debate in the next session, but nothing will change at the Capitol unless parishioners make their voices heard.

“That’s what it’s going to take to change some of these things we don’t like to see as a Catholic community.”

Colorado Catholic Conference Scoreboard

House Bill 1194 Request funding for a program designed to expand access to long-acting reversible contraception, such as IUDs, for low-income women and teenagers.
CCC’s position: Opposed
History: Killed in Senate committee

House Bill 1135 Make physician-assisted suicide legal.
CCC’s position: Opposed
History: Killed in House committee

Senate Bill 45 Create income tax credits for private and home-school education.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

Senate Bill 77 Create a parents’ bill of rights related to the education, health care and mental health care of minors.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

Senate Bill 268 Enable homicide or assault charges on perpetrators of crimes against unborn children from conception until live birth.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

House Bill 1037 Ensure religious freedom for student groups at colleges.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

House Bill 1112 Require a physician to protect the life of an infant born alive after a failed abortion.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

House Bill 1128 Require that abortion clinics are licensed by the state government.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

House Bill 1162 Ban abortions based on the gender of the baby.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

House Bill 1171 Restrict a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion.
CCC’s position: Supported
History: Killed in House committee

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Most Popular