OPINION: ‘Colorado must decide if we will continue to trust women’

Author: Alex Ferencz - July 24, 2018 - Updated: July 25, 2018

Alex Ferencz

The risk to abortion rights in the U.S. has never been greater. Reproductive rights are under constant attack, with lawmakers at every level of government passing restrictions that make abortion unattainable for many across the country. The recent vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court makes this situation all the more dire as Roe v. Wade faces real risk of being overturned. It is hard to believe we could return to a time when women were denied the fundamental right to makes basic decisions about their bodies, families, and future. If Roe is overturned, women will no longer have a constitutional right to abortion — rather, her chances of getting access to abortion will depend on which state she lives in.

Colorado must decide if we will continue to trust women or if we will keep company with states that deny women autonomy over their bodies and criminalize their health care decisions.

We know that the majority of Americans and Coloradans support abortion rights. According to the latest polling by Pew Research Center, 57% of U.S. adults support legal access to abortion — the highest rate in two decades. Support in Colorado is even higher, with 59% of adults saying they support legal abortion. And among Democratic voters, 75% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, with 61% of “moderate-leaning” Democrats saying the same. Notably, among Democratic women, support for legal abortion is at a high of 85%.

What’s more, recent victories in Alabama, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have shown voters support candidates who openly embrace abortion rights, even in seemingly conservative districts. Voters understand that access to abortion is not only a “women’s issue” — it’s an economic issue, an education issue, a health issue, and a housing issue. We all lose when anti-choice politicians, regardless of political affiliation (even those who claim to support reproductive freedom in some forms) vote to restrict, defund, and criminalize abortion, thereby increasing shame and stigma for the one in four U.S. women who have had an abortion.

Paying lip service to equality is not enough when there is so much at stake. Colorado needs progressive leaders who will redouble their commitment to the values we know create a more equitable society, including access to abortion care, and will protect abortion as a key progressive value.

That’s why Democrats for Life, which held its inaugural conference this past weekend outside of Denver, must be called out as hypocrites who don’t even conform to their own party’s position on abortion issues. Their views are also fundamentally incompatible with Colorado values. A handful of former lawmakers posing as progressives won’t  convince us to abandon our core principles, especially with so much at stake for women. Anyone calling themselves Democrats should at the very least stand up for the abortion rights in their own party platforms, not support policies that shame, pressure and punish their constituents.

Roe is in jeopardy. Elected leaders in Colorado and across the country cannot be complacent or compromise on long-term priorities for short-term thinking. With the potential of states playing a larger deciding role on abortion rights and access, we more than ever need leaders who will protect and expand access to abortion as a fundamental right.

Alex Ferencz

Alex Ferencz

Alex Ferencz is the reproductive rights outreach director at ProgressNow Colorado Education.