LIFE ISSUES NO. 1559
1967 COLORADO LAW - Part II
Thirty years ago the State of Colorado passed the first
permissive abortion law in the U.S. That broke the ice,
and other states followed.
The law did have built-in safeguards, and a great deal
was made of this at the time. A panel of three physicians
was needed to approve the abortion. It had to be in
an accredited hospital. If it was requested for a woman's
mental health, a psychiatrist's certification was necessary.
If it was for a rape or incest pregnancy, the District Attorney
was required to certify that there was reasonable cause to
believe that unlawful sexual behavior had occurred.
In practice, it actually limited abortion for, what we call,
the hard cases. It was not an abortion-on-demand bill.
But all of you will probably recognize what it really was,
if I called it "the camel's nose under the tent".
For the reasons for abortion were progressively broadened
and spread from that state and from there.
In response to the law's passage, the first anti-abortion
organization in the U.S. was formed in July of that same year
- just about three months after the bill was signed into law.
The first chairman of that group was a Denver lawyer, John
Archibold. He did an excellent job of shepherding that
tiny group into a going concern. Another one of the
founders who remained in the lead position for many years,
and still is active, was Mary Rita Urbish.
Not surprisingly, the following year a bill was introduced
to reverse that abortion law. The new legislation was
written by John Archibold and by another Denver attorney,
Charles Onofrio, but the bill died in committee.
The original group had called itself the Colorado Joint
Council on Medical and Social Legislation. When it became
clear that this was not a temporary concern but a longer-term
battle, in March of 1970 these pioneers changed the name to
The Colorado Right to Life Committee.
About ten years ago a second right-to-life group was
organized to concentrate largely on legislation and elections,
and it took the name of Citizens for Responsible Government.
Between them, they've been holding up the pro-life flag in
Colorado since that time.
I could spend several more programs telling you what
they've done. For example, the initiative referendums
that they've been involved in in that state, their newsletters
which have been published continuously now since 1970.
But today I simply want to acknowledge a group of very
fine people who 30 years ago started something. Such
a birthday is not a cause for celebration in many ways, for
obviously we haven't yet won the fight. But it certainly
is a cause for celebration for another reason -- because these
folks have remained engaged and have continued with the fight.
For we all know that, in that day of final judgment, we will
not be asked whether we succeeded, but rather whether we tried.