Colorado legislators are currently debating a controversial "reproductive health bill" that has attracted the attention of pro-life supporters in the state, including the Archbishop of Denver, who sent an open letter to dioceses this past Sunday encouraging Catholics to contact their congressperson or local media about their opposition to the bill.
The highly-debated piece of legislation is Senate Bill 175, also known as the "Reproduction Health Freedom Act." The legislation, described by some as the "anti-personhood bill," prohibits state or local governments from interfering with "reproductive health care," meaning "treatments related to services, procedures, supplies, products, devices, or information related to human sexuality, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, or assisted reproduction."
The bill also states that any newly enacted policies relating to reproductive health must be in line with "current evidence-based scientific data and medical consensus."
Those opposed to the legislation argue it is too broad and extreme, and would limit any pro-life legislation or bills related to abortion regulations from being passed in the future. Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan described the bill as "horrendous" to the Colorado Springs Gazette, saying that the broad language is unclear. "It's so very broad, nobody knows that it means. We are doing everything we can against it."
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, archbishop of Denver, also wrote an open letter distributed to dioceses in the state, encouraging Catholics to contact their local media representative or congressperson to express their opposition to 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," the letter states.
The bill's sponsors, Sen. Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) and Sen. Jeanne Nicholson (D-Gilpin County), argue that the bill is meant to show that Coloradoans believe in the freedom to choose when it comes to reproductive health.
"I think it's a bill that makes it clear that we in Colorado believe that individuals should have the freedom to make their own reproductive health decisions," Nicholson told KUSA-TV.
Kerr added to The Denver Channel: "It underlines and makes sure that we are protecting the freedom and the privacy around what should be a decision between a woman and her doctor."
Some have accused Democrats supporting the bill of using the legislation during an election year to brand themselves as "pro-reproductive choice" in contrast to their Republican counterparts.
"It's one of the worst bills that I've seen in terms of public policy," Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) told KUSA-TV. "When the legislature puts something in statute, it's supposed to mean something."
The bill was debated on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.