Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

Prepared Remarks of ACLU Deputy Director Stephen Meswarb on SB 14-175, the Reproductive Health Freedom Act

Bill was heard by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on April 10, 2014 and was passed out of committee 4-3

Thank you Madam Chair and members of the committee.  My name is Stephen Meswarb.  I am the Deputy Director of the ACLU of Colorado, and I am here to speak on behalf of the ACLU in support of Senate Bill 175.

The ACLU has consistently advocated for policies that support women’s decision making, advance women’s health and well-being, and ensure strong, healthy families. This bill does that.

In the last several years, we have seen the most significant state legislative attacks on reproductive freedom in decades.  In 2013, the ACLU and our allies battled legislation that sought to restrict access to the full range of reproductive health care in more than 30 states.

In some states, politicians are passing laws that ban most abortions; others are passing bills that block a woman from getting care for two or three days, or attempt to shame a woman out of her decision by requiring a doctor to give her biased, and often medically inaccurate, state-mandated information.  These restrictions are clearly designed as political interference in a woman’s medical decision-making and not part of a true informed consent process.

Colorado has been no exception.  Our state has seen its fair share of attacks on reproductive health care access, despite a long history of very clear support for reproductive freedom and privacy by Colorado voters.

In 1967, Colorado became the first state in the nation to liberalize its abortion laws, six years ahead of Roe v. Wade.  Since that time, our state’s voters have consistently and repeatedly strongly opposed attempts to inject the government into private health care decisions that should be made solely by women and their families, their doctors, and their faith.

In 2008 and 2010, Colorado voters rejected personhood initiatives by over 40-point margins, and we will face yet another such attempt this fall.  Each year, abortion bans and other attempts to limit reproductive health care are introduced, and fail, in this legislature.

This bill will stop Colorado from following the path of other states where politicians have interfered with women’s rights to an abortion and to private reproductive health care decisions.

With this bill, Colorado has an opportunity to put a stop to these out-of-touch and unconstitutional attempts once and for all. It will affirm the will of Colorado voters and ensure that every Coloradan has the right to make their own, individual, private reproductive health care decisions, in consultation with their doctor, not the government.

Deciding whether and when to become a parent is one of the most private and important decisions a person can make.  This bill would help protect a woman’s ability to make those decisions privately in consultation with her doctor and her family – and without political interference.

Government interference in reproductive health decisions does not represent the values of Coloradans.  The people of our state believe we should be able to make these decisions for ourselves without politicians and politics getting in the way.

For all these reasons, I urge you to vote yes on this bill.  Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.

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