Yesterday, as a Colorado Senate committee deliberated on whether to advance CO HB22-1279, also called the Reproductive Health Equity Act, both Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez testified against the bill, citing its extremity and complete disregard for the dignity of human life.
Despite a nearly three-to-one ratio of testimonies against the bill versus in favor, the bill advanced along party lines in the early hours of the morning.
Read the Denver bishops’ testimonies below.
Archbishop Aquila’s written testimony
“Human life is a gift. For Christians, we believe it is a gift from God.
Our very being is an expression of the love God has for us—the Lord loves us into existence, and his love speaks to the worth of the human person. We take the gift of life seriously because each human being is a unique creation of God the Father. At conception, we receive the gift of life, and lay claim to the right of life, which is bestowed by God and not by the government. The government’s only duty and task is to recognize the right to life and to protect life, if it is truly a just government.
But abortion denies that gift to some babies. It denies that basic right. It makes government god, and governments can change for good or for evil, depending on who is in charge. Abortion has become an idol which is tragic for it promotes evil rather than the common good and the truth of the dignity of human life.
When an abortion is performed, we proclaim that we know better than God. We disregard his wisdom, for he taught us that we should never kill innocent human beings. We proclaim that we do not want or need a gift from God. And in doing so, we seek to make ourselves more powerful than God. We seek to make ourselves God.
Many of you, like the abortion industry, have tried to tell us that we can choose which lives have value. That we can select which lives are worth living. That we can decide which humans – created by God – get to come into this world.
But we are not God. That is not our decision to make.
When I was in college, working in hospitals, I witnessed two abortions. Two tiny humans being destroyed by violence. The memory haunts me. In the abortions I witnessed, powerful people made decisions that ended the lives of small, powerless, children. Through lies and manipulation, children were seen as objects. Women and families were convinced that ending a life would be painless, and forgettable. Experts made arguments that the unborn were not people at all, that they could not feel pain, and were better off dead. I witnessed the death of two small people who never had the chance to take a breath. I can never forget that. My faith was weak at the time. But I knew by reason, and by what I saw, that a human life was destroyed. I learned what human dignity was when I saw it callously disregarded.
And so today I implore you. Do not fall into the temptation of trying to give yourself the power of God. Please, do not pass this bill that will deny his most wonderful gift to so many innocent, unique, unrepeatable, and beautiful lives.
Thank you, and may God bless you.”
Bishop Rodriguez’s testimony
“Thank you, Chairman and esteemed members of the committee. I am Jorge Rodriguez, the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver.
Today your vote on HB 1279 Reproductive Health Equity Act will carry incalculable consequences on uncountable lives of children and mothers.
Colorado should be striving to promote a Culture of Life, not one of death through killing children in the womb. In 2020, 1.3 million Coloradans voted to prohibit abortion when a child could survive outside the womb with modern science. According to a 2020 survey, even more Coloradans oppose on-demand abortion for the full 40 weeks of pregnancy. But HB 1279 will permit abortion in state law up to the moment of birth. Unbelievable.
As Auxiliary Bishop of Denver, I work closely with the Hispanic community. And I am myself a Hispanic and an Immigrant!
Whatever it has been said here, the Hispanic community is a Pro-life community!. Life, children and family are the great values and treasures of our culture and people. This is how we live, so we bring it with us to the United States. Thus, we hope to pass these values on to our children.
A 2019 survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that most Hispanics who said they were affiliated with a religion were also pro-life, including 58 percent of Hispanic Protestants and 52 percent of Hispanic Catholics. The data shows that Hispanics born outside the U.S. are even more less likely to support abortion with 59 percent opposing abortion.
Hispanics are the only race or ethnicity where a majority of respondents thought that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
Census data show that as of July 2021, 5.8 million Hispanics live in Colorado. Nearly 10 percent of Colorado Hispanics are immigrants. With a growing Hispanic population, why is the Colorado General Assembly introducing the most extreme abortion legislation in the country?
The Catholic Church objects to abortion on the principle that every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person. This is the foundation of the Church’s social doctrine, which is why it is the preeminent issue and the core of social justice principles.
I beg the committee to vote “NO” on House Bill HB22-1279 Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA).
Thank you for your time.”