Posted on 04-05-2012
Opposition on Senate Memorial
As long as we see these repeat attacks on women’s fundamental rights, we must address them.
Among the legislation introduced this session addressing women’s reproductive health, a religious conscience exemption continues to fuel the war against women at the Colorado State Capitol. Passage of Senate Memorial Resolution 12-003 (SM003) would put the Colorado Legislature on the national record as opposing health insurance coverage that provides health care services which employers or health insurers may have religious or moral objections. In short, this memorial would allow any employer or health care professionals to make decisions on coverage individuals’ health care regardless of need but reflective their moral or religious beliefs, including denying birth control, transfusions, treatment of STD/STIs and AIDS, mental health and substance abuse treatments, and cancer screenings.
On May 26th, SM003 passed out of a Senate committee and will next move to a debate in the Senate. Based on the make up of the committee, it was expected to be voted down – but Senator Betty Boyd (D) recommended the need for this to be a larger dialogue. “I am amazed that in 2012 we are still talking about birth control. But really this isn’t just about birth control. It is about my health care, my daughter’s health care, and my granddaughter’s health care,” Senator Boyd stated justifying her vote. “This is a shot against the bow in the war against women – to get an education, support themselves and support their families. That is really what we are talking about here.”
The language of the Senate Memorial, patterned after the Blunt Amendment, allows for broad interpretation on the bill and its impact. However, the intent is clear and was directed against women’s health and individual decision-making. Testimony in support of the memorial attacked access to contraceptives and drove home the point that employers who have a moral or religious objection to contraceptives should not have to pay under the First Amendment.
“Bringing this legislation to the Senate floor is a good thing. The testimony in support of religious conscience exemptions and oppose access to contraception, further identified how disconnected the right is from the mainstream,” states Lorena García, Executive Director of Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). “The public strongly supports access to birth control, and 99 percent of women and 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception at some point in their lives. And as long as we see these repeat attacks on women’s fundamental rights, we must address them.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans will have access to critical health care services – affecting vulnerable populations and traditionally uninsured people. This attack on safe and affordable health care is unacceptable: It allows employers to violate the privacy of their employees and creates a system that allows employers to apply their religious choices on others and impeding on their freedom of religion.
In her testimony, García, addressed earlier comments that identified Catholics as against birth control and family planning: “Historically, Latinos have experienced disproportionate rates of HIV contraction, cases of cervical cancer and unintended teen pregnancies due to lack of access to services and information. We have been marginalized, ignored, discriminated against, and lumped into one big group of Catholics who are adamantly against birth control, abortion and other perceived progressive issues… the truth is the Latino community believes strongly that these are personal decisions and the government should not inhibit women and their families from doing what they believe is best for themselves, their health and their families.”