For the fourth time in a dozen years, Coloradans will face an abortion restriction on the ballot. Voters in our state have consistently rejected such restrictions, trusting pregnant women, their families and their health-care providers to make these complex and deeply personal medical decisions without political interference.
All people should have the freedom to decide whether and when to become a parent in order to raise children with dignity. My faith teaches me not to judge, but to have compassion for women faced with such a difficult, complicated, and personal decision. The best thing we can do is help these women feel safe and supported.
Religious freedom should call us to the common good, rather than harm women and their families in the name of God. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is morally complex, and people of different religious traditions, as well as people within the same tradition, hold varying views on this matter. It is important that we respect the religious freedom of each individual by protecting the right to make our own faith-informed decisions about our reproductive lives.
The most troubling aspect of Proposition 115 is that it leaves no room for the complexity and uniqueness inherent in every pregnancy. It is, in fact, a back-door ban on abortion from the same politicians and single-issue groups who have tried repeatedly to wholly outlaw abortion in Colorado. The stated goal is to force a late-term pregnant woman to remain pregnant in every case, except if an abortion is immediately required to save her life, with no exceptions for the woman’s health, fetal diagnosis, or even rape.
Make no mistake: all abortion bans — whether in Alabama or Colorado — are political attacks. They are not about medicine, health or safety.
Abortion later in pregnancy represents about 1% of all abortions, and it often happens because the woman is facing a complicated web of logistical and financial barriers that prevented her from getting an abortion earlier. Some women find out new information about a risk to their own health or a serious fetal diagnosis later in their pregnancy. Others do not live near a clinic or have the money readily available to afford to visit one.
What’s more, we know that abortion rates don’t drop when abortion is criminalized. It just makes safe care harder and more expensive to access. When women can't access the medical care they need in their own state, they are forced to travel long distances to reach it. No Coloradans should have to leave the state to access medical care because of politics.
In America, each person is able to follow their own conscience and faith tradition when making a decision about a complication or tough situation where they may need an abortion. As people of faith committed to compassion for all people, we should not impose our beliefs on someone else who is contemplating a profound and personal decision about abortion later in pregnancy.
No one can know all of the unique circumstances each woman goes through during a pregnancy. Proposition 115 is asking you to impose a one-size-fits all mandate on someone else, when these decisions should be left to a woman, her family and her doctor.
It is important that we are all able to follow our own faith and beliefs when making decisions about pregnancy and parenting, especially when it comes to families who are dealing with a complicated health issue. This measure goes too far — so I urge you to vote no on Proposition 115 this November.
Amanda Henderson is the executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).