News Abortion

Colorado Democrats Begin Pro-Choice Legislative Offensive

Jason Salzman

“When public funding is cut to subsidized health-care facilities that provide reproductive health care, it is women of color and low-income women who have the least access to alternative health care providers,” said Neha Mahajan, chapter director of 9to5 Colorado, which advocates for working women.

The morning after President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, Victoria Gómez Betancourt explained in a news conference at the Colorado State Capitol why she was grateful she had access to a safe and legal abortion.

Gómez Betancourt had “managed to walk away from a violent and abusive spouse” and survived homelessness and an attempted suicide. She was working three jobs and was caring for her disabled mother. And she had a disability that would have kept her bedridden during pregnancy.

A few years ago, she was “just restarting” her life. And she was pregnant.

“I stand here as a woman of color, an immigrant Latina, and woman who’s had an abortion,” said Gómez Betancourt, who works for Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). “I tell my story not because it’s unique, but because it isn’t.”

Colorado House Democrats say they were fighting for women like Betancourt when they passed a resolution Thursday morning affirming the state’s commitment to creating a health-care system that offers access to affordable reproductive health services, including abortion care.

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“The resolution affirms, simply, that reproductive health care is health care,” said State Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), who’s sponsoring the resolution with Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton).

Herod said the resolution is “timely” in the wake of Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch.

“Look, I get that there are many who are opposed to abortion,” Herod said. “I understand that perspective. But quite frankly, it’s the government interference that offends me. It’s a woman’s personal decision, and it’s one that should be made, and permitted to be made, without government interference.”

Democrats hold a solid edge in Colorado’s house and Republicans have a one-seat advantage in the state senate.

Colorado Campaign for Life (CCFL), a leading anti-choice organization, promised to make lawmakers like Herod pay at the ballot box.

In an email to supporters last week, CCFL Director Christy Rodriquez wrote that “when pro-abortion politicians lose their seat you can say to the politicians, ‘hear us now!'”

Pro-choice speakers at Thursday’s news conference thanked lawmakers for their support of abortion rights.

“When public funding is cut to subsidized health-care facilities that provide reproductive health care, it is women of color and low-income women who have the least access to alternative health care providers,” said Neha Mahajan, chapter director of 9to5 Colorado, which advocates for working women.

“Our lives are at stake. And women of color and low-income women are tired of carrying the greatest burden of these political attacks on women and health care on our backs. My message for our elected officials at the legislature today is, do not make the mistake of ignoring our power,” said Mahajan, referencing a January march of more than 100,000 people in Colorado.

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