‘It gives me great hope’: Archbishop Aquila prays with others at Boulder Abortion Clinic

Push to end late-term abortion in Colorado fortified by 40 Days for Life fall campaign

Aaron Lambert

The 2020 40 Days for Life fall campaign launched Sept. 23, and to mark the occasion, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila joined a fervent group of others to pray a rosary outside of the Boulder Abortion Clinic.

Over 20 pro-lifers stood on the sidewalk outside of the clinic where Dr. Warren Hern conducts late-term abortions and peacefully prayed for an end to abortion and for the women who seek them. Archbishop Aquila offered a blessing for those in attendance and expressed his support and gratitude for those who were giving of their time to pray for the sanctity of life.

We know that there are women who have previously worked in centers like this or even Planned Parenthood and who have had strong conversions and whose hearts have changed,” he said. “And so by the power of God, by the grace of God, by our constant prayer for these people, their hearts can be changed. They can come to know the truth. And with that, we see the mercy and forgiveness of the father and live as his children. And so it always gives me hope to see people that are willing to come out and witness for that truth.”

Many of the people in attendance regularly pray outside the clinic, including Sarah Volkman and Susan Gills, who help to organize the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils in Boulder. Those who pray on the sidewalk are accustomed to passersby shouting at them in opposition, though on this particular day, only two instances occurred. Even so, they remain undeterred, and Volkman said there are many opportunities to talk to people about the dignity of life.

A fervent group of over 20 people, including Archbishop Samuel. J. Aquila, gathered to pray a rosary outside of the Boulder Abortion Clinic Sept. 23 to mark the beginning of the 40 Days for Life fall campaign. (Photos by Aaron Lambert)

“I get to communicate the message of life to people that otherwise wouldn’t engage in a conversation about it,” Volkman said. “I’ve had groups of adolescent girls that I talked to for 20 minutes. When you are a good listener, people listen to you.”

This year, the 40 Days for Life fall campaign is perhaps a bit more poignant in Colorado as voters have the chance to end late-term abortion in the state by voting “yes” on Proposition 115 in November. If passed, this would restrict abortions past the 22-week mark in Colorado and impose a penalty on the doctors who perform abortions past that point. No penalty would be imposed on the mother, and there is an exemption if the mother’s life is in danger.

Gills was involved in the signature-gathering efforts for Prop 115, and in doing so, she discovered something rather unexpected.

“What I found is a lot of the younger generation were willing to sign, and a lot in my generation were not,” she said.

Optimistically, Gills observed that “I think the trend is going more to pro life, especially when you think about a baby that’s 24-weeks gestational age. They’re viable. We spend millions of dollars saving those at hospitals around the Denver area. They can live. Ultrasounds have proven that point.”

Volkman concurred.

“It’s pretty hard to argue that a 22-week-old fetus isn’t human or is dispensable because they look human,” Volkman said. “They have all the features of a human being. They move around, they make choices about where they want to be in the space of the womb. They’re obviously human and it’s impossible to deny that. That’s why I’m hoping that because of that viability and those obvious human characteristics, that people will have a really hard time voting against [Prop 115]. It’s a very reasonable proposition. It’s a step in the right direction.”

The media and society, and many politicians put out the lie and the false premise that Catholics only care about the unborn. That is not true. That is a total lie.”

Archbishop Aquila emphasized that caring for life goes beyond simply defending the unborn, and that the Catholic Church has many ministries and programs to help ensure women who are struggling with an unwanted pregnancy don’t feel alone or as though abortion is the only option.

One of the things that is important in the passage of Proposition 115 is that there are many good people out in society who truly want to help women carry their children and who want to love the woman, want to love the unborn child and will help care for them not only through the pregnancy, but well after the pregnancy,” the archbishop said. “In many different ways, they serve those women who want to find jobs, who want to work, who want to give life to their children.

“The media and society, and many politicians put out the lie and the false premise that Catholics only care about the unborn. That is not true. That is a total lie,” he stressed. “We see that in some of the homes that exist. We see that in the Sisters of Life. We see that in Bella. We see that in Catholic Charities and in so many other different ways where we are supporting the child through pregnancy, birth and after birth. And so giving witness to that and offering women hope that they do not need to take a unique human being away from the world. We are willing to accompany them and to be with them and love them in that.”

As part of 40 Days for Life, Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez will be celebrating two Masses at Planned Parenthood in Stapleton on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anybody is welcome to attend.

The 40 Days for Life fall campaign ends on Nov. 1. For more information and to find a local prayer vigil to attend, visit 40daysforlife.com/colorado.

COMING UP: #YesOn115: Voting as a Catholic Means Voting for a ‘Culture of Life’

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November 3 is drawing near for arguably one of the most vitriolic presidential races in the United States’ history, but the presidency is not the only ballot measure of utmost concern for Coloradans. This year, the people of Colorado have the opportunity to ban late-term abortion after 22-weeks’ fetal gestation, promoting the value of life for our culture and affirming the countless preborn children whose lives came to a brutal end before their first breath.

As Catholics and as Coloradans, we must vote YES for Ballot Proposition 115, banning late-term abortion after 22-weeks’ gestation. And we must encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. This is literally an issue of life or death.

Colorado is one of seven states with no legal restrictions on the gestational age of a child for an abortion, allowing preborn children to be killed at any moment until birth. According to the Guttmacher Institute, most states have imposed restrictions on abortion at 20-weeks of gestation or at viability of life outside the womb, which is generally regarded as 22- to 24-weeks’ gestation.1  A May 2020 Gallup poll shows that 70 percent of Americans believe there should be some restrictions on abortions. Despite this public support, the Colorado Department of Public Health reports that approximately 300 babies are aborted per year after 21-weeks’ gestation in the Centennial State. Colorado is far behind the rest of the country in protecting lives of preborn children.

In June, the Colorado bishops released a letter imploring Coloradans to support the Proposition 115 Late Term Abortion Ban. They wrote,

“Ending the legal protection for abortion is the most important political objective of Colorado Catholics because these children are deprived of their right to live. While the late-term abortion ban will not ban abortion entirely, it does protect children who are older than 22 weeks’ gestation. This is a positive change from the status quo and promotes a ‘culture of life’ that values preborn children. It is a step in the right direction.”

The Catholic Church teaches, and human reason based on the findings of science affirms, life begins at conception. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago, 96 percent of biological scientists attest to life beginning at the fertilization of an embryo.2 By 20-weeks’ gestation, a human fetus demonstrates all the fundamental characteristics of more developed humans, including the ability to perceive pain and perform sophisticated behaviors. This makes second trimester dilation and evacuation “D & E” abortions, which dismember babies and crush their skulls while they are still alive, even more horrific. Many abortion clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, have even profited off selling the organs of these late-term aborted babies.3

Furthermore, medical advancements have increased infant-survival rates outside of the womb at 22-weeks’ gestation. A recent study by the University of Iowa shows that 64 percent of babies born at 22 weeks and 82 percent of babies born at 23 weeks survived with hospital resuscitation.4 A majority of premature babies born between 22 weeks and 25 weeks are able to be treated by specialized healthcare professionals and live happy, healthy lives. With each week in utero after the 22-week mark, the survival rate outside of the womb increases. 

Opponents of Proposition 115, including Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion lobbyists, argue that the restriction on abortion limits accessibility for women, especially in cases of rape and incest or unviable pregnancies. But abortion for women who have been sexually assaulted would only add trauma to trauma and create yet another innocent victim by killing the preborn child. In these cases, rapists should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and society should support both the woman and her infant child. Groups like Catholic Charities’ Marisol Health are licensed medical centers, fully equipped to help women with their reproductive health in any circumstance, even the most difficult pregnancies.

It is the duty and obligation of faithful Catholics to take part in shaping the moral character of our community, our state and our country. At the heart of the Church’s moral and social teachings are the truths of human dignity and sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. Because we are people of both faith and reason, it is necessary for Catholics to advocate for these truths in the public square. One important way to do this is through our civic responsibility to participate in the political process by voting, both for Proposition 115 and for elected officials who value life. It is imperative, in this election more than ever, that Catholics hold lawmakers accountable – particularly those who profess to be Catholic but reject Catholic social teaching.

Our involvement in public life, especially in a time of so much civic unrest and a need to address wrongs of the past and present, including abortion, will ultimately help shape the moral character of our society for the future and our posterity – especially for the children whose lives will be saved by your vote for Proposition 115.

Remember to Vote YES on Ballot Proposition 115 this election, and vote for candidates who value a “culture of life.” The lives of Colorado children depend on you!

Visit Online

For more information on Prop. 115 and other election resources, visit cocatholicconference.org