National News

Colorado Bishops Oppose Both Pro-Life and Pro-Abortion Ballot Initiatives

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Detroit as Democrats and Republicans held their Michigan presidential primary Feb. 27, 2024. In this year’s November elections, voters in at least 12 states may be voting on abortion rights. (Photos: OSV News/Dieu-Nalio Chery, Reuters)

WASHINGTON — In Colorado, a campaign has secured enough signatures to put before voters this November an abortion amendment on the state’s Constitution while another campaign looking to put an anti-abortion initiative on the ballot failed to gather enough signatures in time to qualify.

The state’s Catholic bishops were against both ballot initiatives and urged Catholics not to sign either petition or collect signatures for them.

In a letter to Colorado Catholics last November, issued by the Colorado Catholic Conference, the state’s bishops said that people in state would be “presented with two opposing positions on sanctity of life for preborn children for the 2024 ballot.”

“While one of the initiatives defends life, necessary groundwork is not laid for success, and it will likely harm the efforts in Colorado to cultivate a culture of life,” the bishops said.

In noting their opposition to the ballot question that aims to add a pro-abortion amendment to the state’s Constitution, the bishops said that in the past two years, “Colorado has sorrowfully become one of the top pro-abortion states in the county.” 

They said the state’s 2022 Reproductive Health Equity Act allows for abortions for the full 40 weeks of pregnancy and it removed parental notification for minors receiving an abortion. 

Additional abortion bills enacted in 2023, they added, censor pregnancy resource centers, prohibit lawsuits from pro-life states against Colorado or abortion providers, and require large employers and insurance companies to provide coverage for abortion.

“The only provision keeping Colorado from being the number one destination for unrestricted abortion in the United States is the 1984 Colorado constitutional prohibition against the use of public funding for abortion,” the bishops wrote, which they said the proposed ballot initiative would allow.

While the bishops were clear that Catholics should not support the initiative favoring abortion they also said the ballot initiative called “Protections for a Living Child,” sponsored by Colorado Life Initiative, should not be supported.

If it passed, they said it would “likely harm pro-life efforts in Colorado, possibly for years to come.” The state’s bishops said the initiative “would make abortion a homicidal offense and force the closure of abortion facilities.” They added that in recent years, “the voting public has shown it’s not willing to accept this policy at this time.”

They said the state needs “a large-scale education and political campaign to successfully pass a pro-life proposal.” They also stressed that those opposing the pro-life initiative were using it to drive more voters to support the “Right to Abortion” ballot, describing it as “reasonable and a defense of women.”

The bishops said they would work with other pro-life groups in the state to “fight the ‘Right to Abortion’ 2024 ballot proposal to ensure Colorado does not become the number one state for abortion in the country” while continuing to advocate for a culture of life.

On April 18, the day signatures for the ballot initiatives had to be submitted, the campaign trying to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution gathered enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot while the pro-life initiative failed to submit the needed amount.

For the initiative to be submitted, 124,238 signatures were required. Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom obtained 225,000 signatures.

It will be one of at least 12 states where voters may be voting on abortion rights in the November elections.

The Colorado amendment, if it passes, will make it impossible for a future legislature to pass new abortion restrictions. The ballot needs a supermajority of 55% support from voters to pass.  

The proposed voter initiative from the Colorado Life Initiative gained tens of thousands of signatures. 

The initiative sought to declare “a living human child must not be intentionally dismembered, mutilated, poisoned, scalded, starved, stabbed, given toxic injections known to cause death, left to die of the elements for lack of warmth or nutrition, used for experimentation, or treated in any way inhumanely to cause intentional physical harm leading to intended death or intended to cause disability to otherwise healthy and functioning parts of the body of a child.”

The group’s website stresses that a “living human child” exists “from the moment human life biologically begins at conception.”

Faye Barnhart, co-sponsor of the initiative, told CBS News that the group would continue working on the issue and hopes to put forward another ballot in the next election.