Op-Ed: Colorado Must Honor Women by Protecting Reproductive Care

Op-Ed: Colorado Must Honor Women by Protecting Reproductive CareEXPAND
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In recent weeks, the Trump administration has pushed through a ban on federal family planning funds going to health providers who perform or even refer patients for abortion services. This is on top of a recent proposal that would create onerous requirements for insurance companies who want to cover abortion.

With attacks on abortion care ramping up across the country, these latest policies mean access to abortion could become even further out of reach for many.

As we hold the line against the relentless attacks by this administration on our reproductive rights, we in Colorado are keeping our eyes on the horizon — a liberated world where all people have the power, access and resources to be healthy and thrive.

Making the decision whether to become a parent is a holy, intimate process that includes personal reflection and communication with the divine, universe, ancestors, self and with dear beloveds. Yet time and time again, more and more state anti-abortion politicians attempt to force their personal beliefs and religious convictions on families not only to withhold the ability to get an abortion or other health care, but also diminish and shame us.

Colorado has made strides in making it easier for families to get quality and affordable health care. The rate of uninsured adults with low incomes has dropped nearly 30 percent since the state expanded the Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

This has helped contribute to Colorado having one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the country. But the fact is, many people — particularly people of color, immigrants, young people and low-income families — still struggle to get much needed health care, including reproductive health care.

Latinas face a higher rate of unintended pregnancy due to systemic barriers, and black women experience higher rates of pregnancy complications, due in part to the exposure to gendered racism that takes a toll on their emotional, physical, mental and financial well-being. In Colorado, bans on abortion coverage for those insured through Medicaid and public employees disproportionately impact women of color. Studies show that when politicians place restrictions on Medicaid coverage of abortion, it forces one in four poor women seeking abortions to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

However we feel about abortion, no one should be denied the care they need because they’re poor. This isn’t about politics; it's about listening to and trusting women of color to know their own bodies, hearts and minds. It’s about trusting us to make decisions that will be healthy for our lives, families, communities and our futures. It's about creating community, local and state support systems to be responsive to the decision made by those most impacted. It's about accountability.

As women of color leading the fight for liberation in our state, we remain committed to working toward a future Colorado that honors our full humanity and experiences and maintains health care as a human right that encompasses a full range of preventative, health and healing services. We are calling for policies that close gaps in access to the full range of reproductive health care, including comprehensive sex education and abortion. We can do much more to eliminate the financial barriers that low-income families face. We can honor the decisions and experiences of women and families. This is bold. It is profound. And it cannot wait.

Dusti Gurule is the executive director of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, and the Reverend Dr. Dawn Riley Duval is the executive director of Soul 2 Soul Sisters.

Westword occasionally publishes essays and op-eds on Colorado issues. If you have one that you think would work well here, send it to editorial@westword.com.

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