Recently, a panel of Spanish speaking Colorado healthcare providers, patients, persons of faith, and advocates spoke out during a virtual press briefing for the No On 115 campaign. Proposition 115 is a ballot measure that would ban abortion later in pregnancy with no exceptions for health or individual circumstances and would criminalize doctors who provide abortion care. Panelists shared how Proposition 115 would disproportionately hurt Coloradans who need access to translation services and Coloradans of color.
As Colorado Blue Books and ballots hit mailboxes, the panel focused on clarifying the real impacts this measure would have on Coloradans, specifically those who may not read, write, nor speak English. Proposition 115 is meant to intentionally confuse Colorado voters, including those in the Spanish-speaking community.
“As a scholar of Religion and a person of faith, I interpret scripture in support of self-determinacy in womxn. If we are to bring religion into the discussion of reproductive rights and justice, we need to do it in ways that value people’s autonomy,” said Isabela Rosales, a current fellow for Women’s Voices for the Earth who recently finished her Master of Arts, Social Justice and Ethics at Iliff School of Theology degree. “The pro-life/pro-choice dichotomy is harmful in that it ignores the lived experiences of people who seek abortion care, and who are sustaining life in other ways.”
Kathy Bougher, educator and activist, explained, “I have worked with women outside of the U.S. who have nearly bled to death because of the lack of accessible and safe abortion care. I know women in El Salvador who have been charged with criminal offenses and imprisoned when they had obstetric emergencies from complicated fetal diagnoses later in pregnancy. Proposition 115 on Colorado’s ballot is no different than those archaic laws. This measure would force women, particularly women of color and non-native English speakers, to continue a pregnancy — regardless of their individual circumstances. There are no exceptions for rape, incest, threats to a woman’s health, or a lethal fetal diagnosis. It’s unconscionable what happens to women in El Salvador, and it would be no different in Colorado if Prop 115 were to pass.”
“Many of my patients do not have health insurance, they are treated inferiorly when they go to the doctor due to implicit bias, and they do not always understand exactly what is going on in the clinic, because they do not speak English and the doctor does not use an interpreter.”
Ximena Rebolledo, Registered Nurse
Ximena Rebolledo, a registered nurse and preventative nurse specialist in Telluride shared, “We should strive to increase ALL of our patients’ access to medical care, not to further restrict it. Proposition 115 creates an unnecessary barrier to accessing health care. It would disproportionately affect marginalized communities that are already negatively affected by health disparities. Many of my patients do not have health insurance, they are treated inferiorly when they go to the doctor due to implicit bias, and they do not always understand exactly what is going on in the clinic, because they do not speak English and the doctor does not use an interpreter. All of these factors influence the health of these patients. We have seen this in a drastic way with COVID-19, and nothing has changed in that regard. Knowing the negative impact Proposition 115 could have on my patients and my people, forces me to speak up and take action.”
Providers, patients, people of faith, and advocates alike agreed that the measure is intentionally confusing, which presents challenges for the Spanish speaking community across the state. Panelists agreed the proponents of this initiative have been clear — they want to force a woman to continue a pregnancy with no exceptions for health or individual circumstances — even in cases of rape, risks to the woman’s health, or a lethal fetal diagnosis.
Abortion Access for All was formed in 2019 to oppose Proposition 115, the 22-week abortion ban that will appear on the November ballot. Participating organizations include: American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU), Cobalt, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), Interfaith Alliance, New Era Colorado, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Action Fund (PPRMAF), and Progress Now Colorado.
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