CNSNews.com is reporting on the Reproductive Health Freedom Act (SB 175) which was intended to stop passage of any further pro-life laws in the state. The bill would have barred "the state, its agencies, institutions, or political subdivisions, or any unit of local government" from enacting "any policy that denies or interferes with an individual’s reproductive health care decisions.”
In essence, the bill would have created a "fundamental right" to anything that could be included under the broad definition of "reproductive health care", making it the first law of its kind in the nation and one aimed at stopping a state-wide trend that has seen a record number of abortion restrictions and regulations passed in recent years.
The law managed to pass by just one vote in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, but stirred such a strong reaction from pro-life groups that lawmakers began to give it a second look. Because of its sweeping language, it would have blocked future common sense moves such as abortion clinic regulations that might be needed to ensure women's safety, or parental notification requirements for minors.
Senator John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins), a Catholic who cast the deciding vote for the legislation in committee - expressed his misgivings in the wake of the outcry. Even though he supports a woman's right to make a decision, he said he no longer believed that the bill was "the best tool for conveying that message which we wish to convey, which is that as Democrats, as with many people, [think] government should stay out of these things."
What sparked the outrage was due, in large part, to an open letter penned by Archbishop Aquila which drew attention to the bill and called upon the faithful to call their senators, contact the media and pray to defeat the bill.
“This over-reaching piece of legislation would essentially shut down any attempt to pass life-affirming legislation in Colorado ever again. More than that, it enshrines the 'right to abortion' into Colorado law. It’s being praised by anti-life organizations such as NARAL and ThinkProgress as 'the first of its kind' in the country and 'ambitious.' It enshrines the culture of death into law and ignores science,” the archbishop wrote.
The faithful responded to the call in large numbers, doing whatever they could to let lawmakers know where they stood on the bill.
At one point, Senator David Balmer said his office was receiving up to 100 calls per hour and 1,400 e-mails to stop the bill.
Republican Senator Owen Hill said an online petition he posted to gather signatures opposing SB175 garnered 5,000 signatures in just 10 hours.
"The Senate had planned to vote on the bill Tuesday during the rally but the vote was delayed when Kefalas went home sick," CNS reports. "However, after he voiced his concerns publicly, the vote was postponed until May 8th. That effectively killed the bill because the legislative session ends on May 7th."
News that the bill died brought cheers from the state's pro-life groups as well as Archbishop Aquila who led a rally of more than a thousand pro-lifers to the steps of the statehouse last Tuesday.
“Lift up your hearts in gratitude to God, SB 175 died today. Blessings on everyone who prayed & contacted legislators! Stay involved!” Aquila tweeted after hearing that the bill had been abandoned.
“It was your witness that made it possible to kill this horrible piece of legislation. It is because of your willingness to engage the public square that we were able to defeat SB 175," the Colorado Catholic Conference said in a statement released just after news broke of the bill's demise.
“Your voices matter and are needed in the public square now more than ever; please remember what we were able to accomplish and continue to be involved and make your voices heard!”
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