Colorado’s Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice will honor community leaders who have worked to sustain and strengthen reproductive justice in Colorado at its 2016 Annual Faith and Freedom Awards Reception, set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at Temple Emanuel. “We need to publicly thank our heroes,” says Joyce Lisbin, executive director for the Colorado Coalition and the focus of a December 2015 cover story.
This year’s heroes include state senator Lucia Guzman; Dr. Savita Ginde, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; and Dr. J. T. Boyd. “Each person was chosen for their unique contributions to the cause of reproductive justice,” Lisbin says. “Dr. Ginde was attacked and totally misrepresented in fabricated videos. Dr. Boyd was present during the attack by Robert Dear in Colorado Springs, and Senator Guzman has been a legislator in our corner for years.”
In addition to honoring these three, the awards ceremony is an opportunity to “give the rest of our community visible role models, so everyone can realize that obstacles to maintaining reproductive justice are ever-present,” Lisbin adds. “Above all, we want to make sure the public is aware that there are many people of faith who are advocates for women and reproductive justice.”
In 1973, 44 national religious organizations banded together to provide comprehensive sexual education and contraception information for people of faith, founding the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. Today it’s known as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and it currently boasts chapters and affiliates in eleven states, including Colorado.
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The Colorado Coalition comprises eleven faith-based affiliates: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (Reform Judaism), the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Lutheran Women’s Caucus, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, the United Methodist Church, Catholics for Choice and Metropolitan Community Churches. Together, these groups carry out their mission of supporting reproductive justice through lobbying, clergy education and faith-based counseling for women and their families.
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The counseling program is the Colorado Coalition’s direct-service approach to helping women weigh the options when deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy, give birth and keep the baby, or give it up for adoption. For many, that’s a complicated decision potentially wrapped up in faith-based morals.
The coalition also hosts nominally priced workshops for faith leaders to educate them on the issue of abortion and teach them how to provide counseling for women who might be considering abortion. The Colorado Coalition’s third contribution to reproductive justice has been to monitor state legislation and court actions related to reproductive health care. A four-person committee — headed by United Church of Christ pastor Greg Garland, the coalition’s vice-present — follows local proposals and testifies in front of the Colorado Legislature.
The Colorado Coalition’s upcoming interfaith gathering will include statements from the award recipients, along with music by Megan Karkut and hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer. Last year, 125 people came out to support this local organization. Online registration is currently under way; tickets start at $25 for friends/students. For more information on the CoRCRC, visit the Colorado Coalition’s website.