This week, as we recall the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus, the theme of innocence has been on my mind and in my heart.
Jesus was, as Isaiah prophesied, oppressed and afflicted, “yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter” (Is. 53:7).
An address that Pope Francis gave this past week to representatives of the Italian Pro-life Movement also brings innocence to mind. He warned the group about the growth of a “throw away culture” that discards even innocent life.
Therefore, he said, “it is necessary to confirm the firmest opposition to every direct attempt against life, especially innocent and vulnerable life, and the unborn in the maternal womb is the innocent one par excellence.”
Recent events at our state capitol have brought home the theme of innocence even more strongly. For those of you who haven’t heard, this past week, Senate Bill 175 was introduced under the misleading title of the “Reproductive Health Freedom Act.”
But this is not a typical bill by any means. NARAL, which is supporting the bill alongside Planned Parenthood, describes the bill as “the first of its kind” in the country and “ambitious” because it establishes a “fundamental right” to anything deemed “reproductive healthcare” and prevents the state from creating any laws that deny or interfere with accessing those things.
The potential scope of this bill, if it becomes law, is vast. And its ability to keep crucial information from women in difficult situations, to throw away those children who are inconvenient or unwanted is equally worrisome.
This bill would prevent legislators from enacting laws such as ultrasound requirements, certain health code regulations for abortion facilities, or waiting periods for those considering an abortion.
It also has the potential to do away with Colorado’s parent notification law, which requires that parents be notified when their child is thinking about having an abortion. Beyond that, if the sex education in public schools is considered “reproductive healthcare,” then parents could forfeit their right to opt their children out of the classes.
On April 11, Pope Francis voiced his support for parents’ right to decide their children’s moral and religious education and rejected “any kind of educational experimentation with children.”
He further stated, “The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretense of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of ‘only one form of thought.’”
This bill would protect that “one form of thought” which Pope Francis warns against and undermine everyone’s freedom to promote the dignity of human life and the unborn child.
Proponents of SB 175 argue that their ability to access contraception and abortion will be in danger if this bill is not passed. But during testimony on the bill, not a single person in favor of it could cite an instance of not having access to contraception or abortion. In other words, this bill is not needed and will only serve to strengthen the hand of those who want to strengthen their bottom line at the expense of the innocent.
During this Holy Week, I urge you to beseech the Lord on behalf of the innocents who would be threatened if this bill becomes law. But do not stop there. Get in touch your senator, the media and those who are willing to stand up for those who cannot speak, who cannot open their mouths.
The Colorado Catholic Conference can help you learn more about this bill or get contact information for your Senator. You can call 303-894-8808 or visit their website: www.cocatholicconference.org.
May the words of the prophet Isaiah penetrate your hearts, “yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,” so that you may see the innocence of Jesus and protect “the innocent one par excellence” in the unborn!
The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila currently serves as the Archbishop of Denver, Colo. with the episcopal motto, “Do whatever he tells you. (Jn 2:5)”