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