In endorsing a partial abortion ban targeted for Colorado’s November election ballot, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila denounced abortion in sweeping terms yesterday at the annual Celebrate Life rally in Denver, saying, “Only the persons whose consciences are dead, who have no conscience, can participate in [abortion].”

The proposed measure backed by Denver’s Catholic leader would prohibit abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, putting a major regulation on the procedure in a state that’s known nationally as one of seven states that has no cutoff date for abortion.

Opponents of the partial ban say it targets a group of women who are already dealing with horrific decisions about pregnancies, and so the government should leave the choice to women.

Aquila

Amber Jones had an abortion after 22 weeks, for example, after receiving a diagnosis of a rare fetal genetic disorder, which causes miscarriage half the time and death after one week for the median of those that make it through delivery. Read Jones’ story, written by my colleague Madeleine Schmidt, in Jezebel.

Dr. Warren Hern, who performs abortions in Colorado, has said the 22-week ban would be a “catastrophe” for women with pregnancy problems, like Jones’, that aren’t diagnosed until late in pregnancy.

“These women are desperate,” Hern told Jezebel “They don’t want to have an abortion. They want to have a baby.”

But Aquila told the crowd, which numbered in the thousands, that neither medical nor any other complication should stand in the way of stopping all abortion.

“No matter what the circumstances in life, each and every person is called to defend life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable,” said Aquila.

Placing a 22-week regulatory framework on abortion, instead of banning the practice outright has drawn opposition from some of the state’s leading anti-abortion activists.

“Our misguided pro-life allies have presided over decades of regulating child killing,” Bob Enyart, a spokesman for Colorado Right to Life (CRTL), told me earlier this year. “You don’t regulate crime; you deter crime. Once again, they increase confusion where only truth should be proclaimed. Their immoral initiative… seeks to protect children ‘who can survive outside the womb.’ But what about the rest of them?”

Aquila responded to these types of concerns by saying the proposed partial abortion ban is an important incremental step toward a total ban.

“And yes, we firmly believe that all abortion laws should be abolished,” said Aquila. “But we also desire to protect, even in increments, the gift of given life. We are not voting for abortion, nor are we saying we agree with abortion up to 22 weeks. What we are saying, is that we respect life, and we respect it for all the pregnancy.”

“We hope in November 2020 you and the citizens of Colorado will have the chance to protect unborn children, mothers, and fathers,” Aquila told the crowd.

Activists gather petitions for partial abortion ban.

One petition gatherer at the rally, David Cook, said many of the folks in the crowd had already signed the petition because they “believe in protecting the unborn.”

“I just wanted to come out and show support for pro-life,” said Andrew Larue, who just moved to Ft. Collins from Wyoming. “I definitely feel people are becoming more pro-life, and there’s more support for restrictions on abortion. I don’t know if the majority of people want to completely repeal abortion but I do know they are starting to swing more toward pro-life.”

Despite taking place in front of the state Capitol, the rally didn’t feature elected officials.

State Rep. Mark Baisley (R-Teller) was seen in the crowd, along with Senate district 23 GOP primary candidate Rupert Parchment.

“It would be selfish of me not to care about life,” said Parchment, saying he felt “compelled to come and be here” and that he “will support any legislation protecting life from conception all the way through natural death.”

The organization backing the partial abortion ban, Due Date Too Late, must gather 124,632 signatures by March to make the 2020 election ballot. The rally was organized largely by an arm of the Catholic Archdiocese, called Respectforlife.org.