Blog: News Update – April 9, 2019

Blog: News Update - April 9, 2019

Dear Friend of CORCRC,

“Roe continues to exist, but only in the way a storefront on a western movie set exists: a mere façade to give the illusion of reality.”  – Chief Justice William Rehnquist in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1992

It is a painful fact that this 1992 quote is still accurate and reproductive rights are at great risk 27 years later.  It’s not that Americans have changed their minds about abortion: only one fifth of Americans think that abortion should be banned. Surveys consistently report the public’s support for abortion.

Though public attitudes may consistently be in support of abortion and reproductive rights, the balance of power has drastically shifted due to the make-up of the Supreme Court and the aggressive, restrictive legislative efforts on the state level. Nearly a dozen states have proposed or recently passed ‘heartbeat’ bills that prohibit abortion after six weeks (when fetal heartbeat is initiated). The aim and threat of these bills is to catapult the question of their legality to the Supreme Court and ultimately overthrow Roe.

We must alert the public of this threat and inform all fair-minded legislators that abortion/miscarriage needs to be seen as a part of pregnancy care. This continuum must include access to sex education, contraception, fertility services, pre- and post-natal care, abortion and sterilization.  Accurate medical information must be made clear and comprehensive.  Make sure that you listen to an exemplary media event that actually provides just that: medical information mixed with personal stories about the real life impact of needing abortions late in pregnancy: What Lawmakers (And The Rest Of Us) Get Wrong About ‘Late-Term’ Abortions.

The politics and misinformation in the war on reproductive rights is weakened by facts and the reality that pregnancy is too often a complicated, imperfect, and sometimes heartbreaking condition. CORCRC urges all of its supporters to resist the undermining of bodily autonomy and threats to First Amendment rights.

OP ED on SEX ED Bill:
A Rabbi’s Perspective on providing Comprehensive Sex Education in Colorado Public SchoolsLast month, I spent an afternoon at the State Capitol listening to testimony before congressional committee reviewing HB19-1032, or “The Youth Wellness Act.” The bill’s stated goal is to provide age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, inclusive, positive (not punitive), and comprehensive educational resources to public schools that choose to offer sex education.
So why the controversy? In defining ‘comprehensive,’ the bill just says, “No,” to so-called ‘abstinence-only’ curricula. Under the bill, state-funded schools that offer lessons or classes about human sexuality must implement a curriculum that includes contemporary perspectives about human sexuality and gender identity from the biological and social sciences. Teachers would be required to facilitate informed conversations about consent, homosexuality, non-binary sex and gender identity, various forms of STI prevention and birth control (including abstinence), and various pregnancy outcomes, (including medically-induced abortion). Given the personally and politically charged nature of these topics, it’s not hard to understand all the hot collars, clergy pun intended.
So why throw my yarmulke (Jewish ‘hat’) in the ring? I know too many kids and their families (including my own) directly and indirectly impacted by the pervasiveness of sexual assault, harassment, and an alarming escalation of depression and suicide among teens. At the hearing, I learned that the teen suicide rate in Colorado is twice the national average, and we know that the risk for LGBTQI youth is exponentially higher. Our individual and collective efforts to protect our children and prepare them for the world as healthy sexual beings have come up short. As parents we should be talking to or children about these topics, and it is clear to me that we need help, educating ourselves and our children. I applaud those who have braved the controversy and brought this conversation to the table. It’s long overdue. And as the sages, say, “it may not be for me to complete the task, but neither am I exempt from doing my part.”
I listened carefully to those who expressed concerns about ‘the state’ addressing the sensitive topic of sexuality. Many at the hearing objected to government or school administrators imposing a set of values that compete with or contradict their beliefs regarding sex or gender identity and their ethics regarding sexual behavior. Whatever happens with this bill, I believe the conversation is worth having, that it behooves us to harness all this heat to strengthen our schools, our democracy, and our faith, and that it is possible to do all three.
I’ll begin by identifying and reinforcing possible common ground between ‘opponents’ and ‘proponents’ of this proposed overhaul of Sex Ed in our state. I will then offer a metaphor to help us better understand ourselves and our perceived adversaries, perhaps making the ‘debate’ more productive, even enjoyable. Lastly, I have some practical suggestions for legislators, educators, parents and religious leaders to contribute to constructive change we can all celebrate.
So, how can we find common ground? I propose the following shared goals:
1.) Do all we can to make our schools and homes safe, stimulating, and nurturing learning environments;
2.) Ensure that we provide students age-appropriate, informative and factual content;
3.) Support one another in developing the processing and ethical framing skills necessary to cultivate a positive self-image and make informed, respectful, conscientious decisions regarding identity, boundaries, and sexual behavior.Can we agree on that? If so, the next question is how. In three words, here’s how: respect, perspective, and courage.

Step one: Safety starts with inclusion and respectful boundaries. In a democracy, we strive to fairly consider and balance the various (and occasionally competing) interests of diverse constituents. This works when we assert our right to vote without insisting on veto power — inclusion with boundaries. Let’s assemble state legislators and local school boards, religious leaders and academic experts, teachers, students and parents – each having a voice at the table, and committing to a respectful, productive exchange of ideas that contribute directly towards those shared goals.

Step two: Let’s bring humble perspective to that table. Recall the five blind men from the Buddhist parable. One’s convinced it’s a rope. To another it’s a hose. A third insists it’s a tent flap. No, a tree trunk! Or perhaps a wall? Call it hubris or idolatry, either way, when we (like the blind men) claim to know the whole truth, we’re missing the elephant in the room, literally and figuratively. There are always multiple perspectives from which to choose.

As humans, most of us are equipped with the capacity to see in color, and in black and white. Occasionally, as in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, we go from one to the other and back again. As I witnessed the testimonies I heard at the capitol, I realized this: We tend to see ourselves in color and others, especially those we perceive as threatening, in black and white, right or wrong, good or evil. And herein lies our challenge, and an opportunity.

There are those that regard sex, gender, and sexuality in binary terms, male or female, masculine or feminine, gay or straight. This is an either/or, a black and white lens. Such a lens is, at times, invaluable, for all of us.

Others insist that biological sex, gender, and sexuality are more nuanced or ‘fluid.’ They describe a more permeable line between ‘male’ and ‘female,’ citing evidence that all humans seem to have some combination of biological maleness and femaleness – biological females with a Y (male?) chromosome, anatomical males with two XX chromosomes, individuals born with both a womb and testes, and various other combinations. It seems we are all, to a degree, intersexed. Perhaps the first chapter of the Book of Genesis hints at this when it describes the first human being, Adam, as created both “male and female.” As with biological sex, so too with regard to gender and sexuality. Who we are and how we love, these states of being-in-relationship are as varied as the colors of the rainbow. This is not some new ‘politically correct‘ pseudo-science. Studies of history, anthropology, biology, genetics, and Bible support this perspective as well.

What set of lenses are you currently using? Black and white or Technicolor. Rose colored or shades of grey. Day to day, moment to moment, by choice or by default, we see through subjective lenses that, like cameras before they became smart phone accessories, can be swapped out and exchanged for different ones. As we choose our lenses, let us hold them with humility, acknowledging our penchant to see ourselves in color and those we fear in black and white. The more diverse the perspectives at the table, the fuller (and presumably less scary) the image of the elephant in the room.

Step three: Be courageous! In this case, I encourage us to err on the side of trust — students, teachers, and the educational process as a sacred one. There is risk involved in such an experiment, to be sure. We cannot determine what students will choose to do with their lenses any more than God could dictate what the Adam-and-Eve would do with the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, or with their bodies fashioned in the image and likeness of God.

As religious leaders, let us remember that our prophets, sages, and redeemers lived life in color even if the scriptures we inherited are written (and too often read) in black and white. As parents, let us, like God in the story of the Garden of Eden, have the courage to model curiosity and trust, two essential ingredients for respectful, safe, consensual, healthy, and joyful partnership, sexual and otherwise.

With mutual respect and a humble, colorful perspective, we can and should have the courage to try something new – for the sake of our children, our schools, our democracy, and our faith.

Rabbi Jamie Arnold is a Colorado resident and parent. He has been an educator, spiritual leader, and community organizer in the Evergreen area since 2005, and a past president of The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. An advocate for quality public education, he has volunteered for JeffCo and GrandCo Schools in various capacities, advising on and drafting curriculum, organizing and facilitating multifaith programs with religious leaders, co-chairing a School Accountability Committee (SAC), and repainting a few walls in a library. He was recently named 2018 Leader of the Year by the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce.

 

Legislation Update

Join CORCRC in supporting the following bills:
Contact House Reps and Senators today and urge them to prioritize funding for this important bill.
Concerning comprehensive human sexuality education, and, in connection therewith, making an appropriation.  This bill allocates $1million in state funds annually to an existing grant program administered by CDPHE.  Schools that wish to provide sex ed can apply for funding, and priority will be given to rural schools and schools that don’t have the resources to teach sex ed. LAST ACTION: 02/28/2019 | Senate Committee on Health & Human Services Refer Amended to Appropriations SPONSORS: Rep. S. Lontine | Rep. Y. Caraveo | Sen. N. Todd | Sen. D. Coram

HB19-1001 Hospital Transparency Measures To Analyze Efficacy Concerning hospital transparency measures required to analyze the efficacy of hospital delivery system reform incentive payments, Sen. D. Moreno is a sponsor. Passed by House. LAST ACTION: 03/28/19 – Governor Signed. Sponsors: Rep. C. KennedyHB19-1004 Proposal For Affordable Health Coverage Option, The bill requires the department of health care policy and financing and the division of insurance in the department of regulatory agencies (departments) to develop and submit a proposal (proposal) to certain committees of the general assembly concerning the design, costs, benefits, and implementation of a state option for health care coverage. Additionally, the departments shall present a summary of the proposal at the annual joint hearings with the legislative committees of reference during the interim before the 2020 legislative session.  LAST ACTION: 03/13/2019 | Senate Committee on Health & Human Services Refer Unamended to Appropriations. Sponsors: Rep.D.Roberts | Rep.M.Catlin    Sen.K.Donovan  https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1004

HB19-1064 Victim Notification Criminal Proceedings   Concerning eliminating requirements that victims must opt in to affect their rights in criminal proceedings.  Proactively adds victims into the notification of criminal proceedings system unless the victim opts out.  Last Action: 02/28/2019 | House Committee on Judiciary Refer Amended to Appropriations. Sponsors: Rep. T. Sullivan

HB19-1122 Colorado Department Of Public Health And Environment Maternal Mortality Review Committee  Concerning the creation of a maternal mortality review committee in the department of public health and environment.  LAST ACTION: 02/13/2019 | House Committee on Public Health Care & Human Services Refer Amended to Appropriations  Sponsors: Rep. J. Buckner | Rep. L. Landgraf | Sen. R. Fields | Sen. B. Gardner

SB19-085 Equal Pay For Equal Work Act  Concerning the creation of the “Equal Pay for Equal Work Act” in order to implement measures to prevent pay disparities. LAST ACTION: 04/4/2019 | Introduced in House-Assigned to Business Affairs & Labor. Sponsors: Sen. J. Danielson | Sen. B. Pettersen | Rep. J. Buckner | Rep. S. Gonzales-Gutierrez

HB19-1224 Free Menstrual Hygiene Products In Custody Concerning providing free menstrual hygiene products to people in custody.  The bill requires local jails, multijurisdictional jails, and municipal jails to provide menstrual hygiene products to people in custody at no expense to the people in custody.  In House Judiciary Committee. LAST ACTION: 04/8/2019 | House Considered Senate Amendments – Result was to Concur – Repass.  SPONSORS: Rep. L. Herod | Sen. F. Winter

SB19-188 FAMLI Family Medical Leave Insurance Program. Concerning the creation of a family and medical leave insurance program.  This bill would guarantee all Colorado workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for themselves and their family. LAST ACTION: 03/13/2019 | Senate Committee on Business, Labor, & Technology Refer Amended to Finance. SPONSORS: Sen. F. Winter | Sen. A. Williams | Rep. M. Gray | Rep. M. Duran

 

 

Your support nourishes and serves as a catalyst to grow our mission. With a financial contribution, you will ensure our continued commitment to Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (CORCRC) bringing interfaith and multiracial voices to reproductive health and rights issues.
With comments or questions, or if you would like to get involved with CORCRC, please contact Nora Bashir, CORCRC Exec Director at nora@corcrc.org or Joyce Lisbin at joyce@corcrc.org

Points of Interest:

A beer has been named in honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Sam Adams brewery named the spicy IPA When There Are Nine which is the 86 year of the jurist’s retort when she was asked when the Supreme Court would have enough female justices.

University of North Texas study finds that counties that hosted campaign rallies for Pres. Trump in 2016 have experienced a 226% increase in reported hate crimes, compared with counties that did not host rallies.

 

Upcoming Events

April

April 9th: Protect Title X: (the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services) is being gagged. The administration is prohibiting the mention of abortion including referrals.

Join Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado (PPVC) along with Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) for an educational evening about Title X. We’ll explain what Title X is, the ongoing fight to protect this funding, and what you can do as an activist to help ensure everyone has access to quality reproductive health care in our state and beyond. Location details will be shared upon RSVP.

Tuesday, April 9th | 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Denver, Colorado

May

May 7th: Please Join the CORCRC and Friends for the 2019 Faith & Freedom Award Reception honoring Colorado Senator Joann Ginal for her contributions to CORCRC and Women’s Reproductive Rights.

Also with grateful acknowledgement to Daisy Patton for her artistic contribution to the CORCRC card project.

Heavy hors d’oeuvres served. Entertainment by Josie Quick, Violinist.

Tickets available now at FaithFreedom.eventbrite.com


May 22:
Save the Date: Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber will discuss her new book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. Details to be announced.

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