Opinion

THE PODIUM: ‘Extreme views of a few legislators keep us from working together’

Author: Rev. Amanda Henderson - March 1, 2018 - Updated: March 1, 2018

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Rev. Amanda Henderson

Every year, our Colorado state legislature is flooded with bills that would harm women. As a Christian pastor and leader of The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, I see the way these bills not only threaten the health and wellbeing of people in our community, but I feel frustrated that the extreme views of a few legislators keep us from working together for real improvement in people’s lives.

In the past two weeks we have seen four bills in the Colorado legislature that range from restricting basic rights, to perpetuating blatantly false and dangerous misinformation. From bills that try to slip “personhood” into Colorado law, to bills that criminalize scientific research, and medical care. “Personhood,” or legal rights for a fertilized egg, has been rejected by Colorado voters three times, denied in proposed legislation countless times, and would be flatly unconstitutional. It is an idea that would have sweeping and dangerous consequences in cases of miscarriage or infertility treatments, and would leave women, doctors and health care workers open to prosecution. Further, the proposed bills undermine access to full health care by creating unnecessary obstacles for health clinics and diminishing the expertise of doctors and the wisdom of women, disproportionately impacting women of color and those most vulnerable in our state.

The second round of anti-women and anti-medicine bills heard this week, capitalize on the deceit and misinformation spread through attacks on Planned Parenthood, dating back two years ago. Built on myths, these bills are an example of the fear-based and divisive politics that is harmful and out of line with the Colorado way. Abortion care and access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, is vital in women’s lives and for the wellbeing of family and community life. We should be doing all we can to support women and families to assure access to healthcare, support in raising children, education, and paid family leave. Our shared values call us to build a society where all people have the opportunity to build the life they hope for, with the support systems they need.

Each year as these bills come back and I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we could actually work together with our time and resources, for our shared values and hopes for thriving people and communities. I trust that the legislators who bring these bills do hope for freedom and opportunity for all in our community. We have seen glimpses of possible partnership in support of twelve-month birth control, and in the success of the Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) program that has both prevented unplanned pregnancies and saved millions of state dollars. What more could we do together if we put aside these harmful efforts to undermine women’s access to health care? It is time that legislators with extreme views on abortion care and access stop hurting Coloradans and work together to support legislation that would actually support women and families. Extreme anti-abortion bills are wrong for women, wrong for health care providers, and wrong for Colorado.

Read The Podium weekly; it’s where prominent players in Colorado politics address the big issues of the day.

Rev. Amanda Henderson

Rev. Amanda Henderson

Rev. Amanda Henderson is executive director of The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, which works to bring people together from multiple religious traditions to educate and advocate for human rights and equality.