Editor’s note: The following are Wendy Howell’s remarks from today’s press conference hosted by the No on 115 campaign, which is seeking to defeat a Colorado ballot measure to ban abortion at 22 weeks. Howell is the Acting State Director of the Colorado Working Families Party, one of a long list of organizations and individuals that have now endorsed the No on 115 campaign.
My name is Wendy Howell, and I’m the Acting State Director of the Colorado Working Families Party. Our organization stands with the working families across Colorado too often left out and left behind by the decisions those in power make affecting their lives. And while we may be best known for our work around economic justice, we have long known that you cannot have economic justice without social justice and vice versa – the two are inseparable.
This is why we are here today to strongly oppose Proposition 115.
For too long, politicians and special interest groups have tried to control women’s bodies in Colorado. Time and time again, they have failed. Now, they are back at it with an intentionally confusing measure that would force a woman to continue a pregnancy even if there is a serious risk to her health or she receives a lethal fetal diagnosis.
It is unconscionable they are trying this again — particularly in the midst of the greatest health and economic crisis in a century. So many women are struggling just to survive, and women of color are disproportionately impacted by both COVID-19 and the high unemployment rate it has created.
I want you all to imagine for a moment that you are a mom, working hard to make ends meet each month and keep a roof over your family’s heads, despite stagnant wages and the profound affordable housing crisis in Colorado. You’re keeping food on the table, but you’re really stretching every dollar. Then, you find out that you’re pregnant, and you think – “somehow, just somehow, we’ll make it with another mouth to feed, we’ll figure it out”. You look forward to loving another child, and are already planning how to stretch even further. But then, the economic crisis hits your industry hard. First, your hours are cut, and then you’re laid off from your job. You lose your family’s healthcare, which was attached to your job. Then, your unemployment benefits, which were keeping you afloat while you looked for other work – even while pregnant! – get cut by hundreds of dollars per month.
What would you do? How would you react, knowing that your best is just not cutting it to support your family, with all these big crises that are out of your control? This story is not far off from where many Coloradans are right now, in the thick of this crisis.
But now, let’s take this story one step further. Imagine that the unthinkable happens-you’re told that there’s a complication with your pregnancy that means that if you carry this baby to term, it could disable you for life, and likely prevent you from ever working again.
What decision do you make about continuing with your pregnancy, looking in the eyes of your other children, who you have fought and scraped and scrimped every day to support? What expertise do you look to your doctor for, and what options is she able to provide for you? What do you say as you cry on the shoulder of your own mother, wrestling with what to do?
But even more importantly: why should politicians have any say whatsoever in the decisions you make to protect and provide for yourself and your family in the midst of all these compounding crises?
The answer, of course, is that they shouldn’t. That this is obviously a decision between you, your family, and your healthcare providers.
This is just one potential story of many. Every pregnancy is unique and complex. That is exactly why this measure needs to be defeated, especially now. Proposition 115 is deeply harmful at a time when too many women and families are already hurting very, very badly. We urge Coloradans to reject this dangerous and cynical measure, and leave these difficult decisions exactly where they should be: in the hands of the families that must wrestle with making them. There is pain and hardship enough across Colorado right now without compounding it with Proposition 115. We must make sure every Coloradan votes NO.