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  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

A High Risk Pregnancy Obstetrician Says Vote No on 115

“Proposition 115 does not extend compassionate care.”

True story.

A 25-year-old patient and her husband go to their OBGYN’s office for a routine, mid-pregnancy ultrasound. They are excited – they’ve spent the last several months preparing for their new family and adventures yet to come. A few minutes later, their world turns upside down.

Their baby has anencephaly, a condition in which major parts of the brain and skull do not form.  It is a lethal diagnosis and a devastating blow to the parents to be. Their doctor discussed all options for care, and the young couple consulted with their pastor. Knowing that their baby would not survive, this family chose to end their pregnancy.

These are the types of second trimester pregnancy terminations for which Proposition 115 does not extend compassionate care.

Every day in Colorado, pregnant women and families receive unexpected lethal fetal diagnoses and are faced with the need to make gut-wrenching decisions. The fetus may have no kidneys, no functional brain, a severely malformed heart, or skeletal abnormalities that make survival a medical impossibility. The list is long. Women who receive a lethal fetal diagnosis also face a higher risk of health complications as pregnancy progresses. It must be emphasized that these are very wanted pregnancies in which something has gone terribly wrong.

Many lethal fetal diagnoses are not detected until 20-22 weeks gestation. If other confirmatory tests are needed, a patient could easily pass the 22-week mark in her pregnancy. Every patient’s situation is unique.  Proposition 115 would take away the right of a parent to pursue the avenue that is best for their family.

Chances are, you know someone who has walked this painful path. Unfortunately, in a super-charged political climate, families may not feel free to speak their truth, for fear of being judged or shamed. What these families deserve is compassion and support in their grief. Having worked in women’s health care for 27 years, I can tell you that no one knows what decision they will make until faced with serious pregnancy complications. As a society, we should be there to support pregnant women and families – not condemn them.

Thoughtful people across the political spectrum may feel conflicted in the debate over Proposition 115. But in order to show compassion and support for Colorado families, this measure must be defeated. Let’s work together, instead, on solutions that empower and support individuals and families. Proposition 115 will have many unintended consequences for Colorado families. We must respect patients’ decisions because it is their decision to make, not mine, and not yours. I hope you will join me in voting no on Proposition 115.

Dr. Lisa Becker, MD is a High Risk Pregnancy Obstetrician in Denver, CO

 



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