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Denver Archbishop: Shun Candidates Supporting Planned Parenthood

Jason Salzman

Denver’s Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila urged thousands of people at Denver’s March for Life rally Saturday to make their voices heard in politics, including at Colorado’s March caucuses.

Denver’s Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila at Saturday’s “March for Life” rally called on those who “support life” to make their voices heard in the Colorado legislature and at the state’s March caucus meetings, where candidates from across the state are selected to run for office.

“Too many citizens have sat in the back seat, so we are where we are in the state of Colorado,” Aquila told thousands of people assembled in front of the state capitol in frigid weather. “That must come to an end.”

“As we march through the streets of Denver today, I ask you to pray to the father for the conversion of all those who support abortion and for those who support assisted suicide,” Aquila said at the rally. “Pray that their hearts may be changed, that their minds may be convinced on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.”

Other speakers echoed Aquila’s call to action and drew attention to Planned Parenthood, the target of anti-choice legislators following the release of a series of discredited and deceptively edited videos produced by a front group called the Center for Medical Progress.

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“Today we are here to remember those children throughout this past year who tragically lost their lives at the centers of destruction, namely Planned Parenthood,” said Biff Gore, president of Colorado Right to Life, an organizer of the event. “I’m going to pick on them, because they are the big dogs.”

“We need to be noisy,” Gore shouted to cheers. “We need to be as loud as we can. We need to be out in those clinics offering those women life and hope and choices. Amen.”

Asked by Rewire if Catholics should vote for candidates who support Planned Parenthood, Aquila said, “No, I believe that we really need to give witness to life, and Planned Parenthood does not give witness to life.”

Aquila’s predecessor, former Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, stirred up controversy in 2004 by suggesting that faithful Catholics should vote against Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, and for eventual President George W. Bush.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado officials vowed to deliver a strong pro-choice message in the state.

“Voters in Colorado have said repeatedly that they support the Constitutional right to an abortion,” Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, said in an email. “And as the political arm of the pro-choice movement, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will continue to give loud voice to the majority of Coloradans and protect our rights.”

Denver’s March for Life event was one of many similar events staged around the country to mark the 43rd anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.

In a fiery speech, failed GOP presidential and U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes said the crowd should fight for “babies in the womb.”

“We wouldn’t be standing here if sometime back the Supreme Court hadn’t decided that killing babies is the American thing to do,” he said.

After Keyes finished his remarks, marchers wound through Denver, carrying scores of “Defend Life” placards. Other signs read, “Everyone Happens for a Reason,” “I am the pro-life generation,” and “There Is Life in Your Womb. Abortion Is not the Answer.”

Mark Dilger, a march participant, said he stood against abortion rights because he believes the medical procedure constitutes violence against fetuses. “If you don’t like violence in the world, being pro-life is what it’s all about.”

The anti-choice rally comes about two months after a gunman killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. The alleged shooter, Robert Lewis Dear Jr., reportedly said “no more baby parts” after his November 27 arrest. He said in an interview last week that he chose the Planned Parenthood facility “because it’s murdering little babies.”

Reproductive rights activists have argued that extreme anti-choice rhetoric contributed to the spike in clinic violence over the past year, including the Colorado Springs shooting. Republican leaders in Colorado have vowed to continue investigations into Planned Parenthood in hopes of defunding the health-care provider.

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