.- Yesterday at the Colorado State Capitol building, over 40 people turned out at a press conference to show their support for Governor Bill Owens’ decision to veto an emergency contraception bill passed by the state legislature. The Catholic governor has been taking considerable heat for his decision, in which he called House Bill 1042 a violation of religious freedom.
Critics of the bill, including Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, have said that it violates the religious freedom of hospitals, particularly Catholic ones, by forcing them to offer information on abortion to victims of rape.
A panel of three Denver-area women presented yesterday’s press conference. Jamila Spencer represents the Colorado Catholic Conference, Terri Polakovic, ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), and Alexis Wagner, President of the University of Colorado’s Respect Life Committee also presented.
Wagner expressed her gratitude to the governor for his moral courage in striking down the bill, which, she noted, “offends the fundamental rights of the unborn.”
She also empathized with the governor’s difficult position and echoed the words of Archbishop Chaput in his February column, in which called the bill well intentioned, but seriously flawed.
In response to some of the more hostile reporters gathered yesterday, Spencer explained that HB 1042 “was not about educating women on emergency contraception…it was about making referrals or requiring Catholic hospitals to supply emergency contraception.”
She clarified the fact that emergency contraception often aborts an unborn, but conceived child.
“We must”, she emphasized, “allow Catholic hospitals to define pregnancy under their own terms.”
In cases of rape, Spencer said that “the rapist should be punished—not the child.”
She likewise outlined the Catholic Church’s stance saying that, “all human life is valuable. To ask the Church to choose between a woman and her child is to ask the Church to choose one life over another.”
“The Church will never do that,” she said.
Kathryn Johnson, a student at the University of Colorado Medical Center, now in her residency, commented that, “it’s really alarming that so many senators want to define for doctors how to do their work. It’s a really alarming double standard.”
Added Spencer: “[The bill suggests] that the state of Colorado knows better than the Catholic hospitals.”
“It absolutely breeds intolerance.”