Category: Health care

Abortion access initiative makes it onto Colorado’s 2024 ballot

It’s official.

The initiative to enshrine abortion rights in the Colorado state Constitution will be on the ballot this November.

Since it seeks to amend the state constitution, it will need a vote of at least a 55% in favor to pass.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Election Office announced today that supporters of Initiative #89, the “Right to Abortion,” had submitted the required number of signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for Colorado’s statewide General Election ballot on November 5, 2024.

Colorado’s abortion rights ballot measure surpasses its signature goal, putting it one step closer to being on the 2024 November Ballot

Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom announced that it has surpassed their campaign’s goal of collecting 185,000 signatures to put Ballot Initiative 89 on the November, 2024 ballot, putting Colorado voters are one step closer to seeing a constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot that will protect abortion from government interference. The announcement comes just a few days after the Arizona Supreme Court upheld an 1864 law banning abortion, a law that was enacted when Arizona was still a territory and long before American women had the right to vote.

The campaign needs 124,238 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, including 2% of the total registered electors in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts. As of now, the coalition has collected over 225,000 signatures of which 48,175 were collected by over a thousand volunteers, and has qualified in all 35 state senate districts.

The text of proposed Initiative 89 says:

“A change to the Colorado constitution recognizing the right to abortion, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the state and local governments from denying, impeding, or discriminating against the exercise of that right, allowing abortion to be a covered service under health insurance plans for Colorado state and local government employees and enrollees in state and local governmental insurance programs.”

Jess Grennan, Campaign Director of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom, said “The news of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban ultimately

Jess Grennan

exposed just how vulnerable every state is, and will remain, without passing legislation that constitutionally secures the right to abortion. Ballot measures like Proposition 89 are our first line of defense against government overreach and our best tool to protect the freedom to make personal, private healthcare decisions — a right that should never depend on the source of one’s health insurance or who is in office, because a right without access is a right in name only.”

Current law is discriminatory

Because of a 1984 constitutional measure that barely passed, public employees and people on public insurance in Colorado are barred from having their health insurance cover abortion care. By establishing abortion as a constitutional right, Ballot Initiative #89 would remove that discrimination, providing access to teachers, firefighters, and other state employees who cannot currently get coverage for abortion care through their insurance. Private employers in Colorado are required to cover abortion in their insurance plans.

“Recent events have made it even more critical that we in Colorado restore what the Dobbs decision took away from us and secure abortion rights in the Colorado Constitution,” said Cobalt President Karen Middleton, Co-Chair of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom. “As a fundamental, shared value, Coloradans trust people and their doctors, not politicians, to make decisions about abortion. That value has been reinforced in 2024 with the overwhelming enthusiasm for our ballot measure, as demonstrated by thousands of volunteers in every corner of the state collecting signatures. And we firmly believe that this energy and enthusiasm will carry us through to winning in November.”

Karen Middleton

“Abortion is legal in Colorado, but still not accessible for all pregnant people who need these services. Abortion may be legal in Colorado, and that’s due to our leadership passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act in 2022 to codify a person’s fundamental right to make reproductive health-care decisions, but statutory protections do not mean we are any safer from government interference than Arizona is,” said Dusti Gurule, President and CEO of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR) and Campaign Co-Chair. “This is why our community is fighting to enshrine abortion rights in the Colorado state constitution, along with the more than 225,000 Coloradans who have signed on to support this measure. Crossing the signature threshold is a critical step forward in securing a future where abortion rights are protected, respected, and accessible for all Coloradans, regardless of which elected or appointed official is in power.”

Dusti Gurule

 

Help keep Colorado a free state

Get up, get out and sign the petition to preserve reproductive freedom in Colorado! If you can’t get out, petition circulators will come to you. Get trained as a circulator at the office of Mesa County Democrats and get your friends, family and neighbors to sign! Do it soon. The deadline for signature gathering is the middle of next month.

Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom (CPRF) made an appearance last weekend in Grand Junction to boost the signature-gathering effort to get Initiative 89 on the ballot, the measure that would amend the state constitution to protect abortion from government interference.

Mesa County Public Library to host educational seminar about menstrual health for teens 14-18 on Sat., Jan. 27, 1-2:30 p.m.

The downtown Mesa County Public Library will host a free educational workshop on menstrual health on Saturday, January 27 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. in the Library’s Monument Room. The event is aimed at teens aged 14-18 of all genders and their caregivers. It will include an opportunity to ask questions and get medically-accurate answers from experts in the field.

Many people may know the basics of the menstrual cycle, but not everyone knows what is a sign of a illness and what’s not. This holds true even for adults. This seminar will go beyond the basics of the menstrual cycle to tell teens how to recognize if a period is normal or not, where to get free period products and how to use them, and how to talk more openly about periods without embarrassment or shame.

The workshop will be led virtually by two period professionals who are medical students or physicians-in-training who are specifically trained menstrual health education for this program, which was developed by physician experts.

Signature-gathering effort for ballot initiative to guarantee abortion rights in CO kicks off 1/23 in Grand Junction

States where abortion rights may be on the ballot in 2024 (Chart: Washington Post)

The effort to get Amendment 89, a constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion from government interference in Colorado, onto the November ballot will kick off on Tuesday, January 23 at an event in Grand Junction from 6:00 – 8:00 pm at The Mesa Theater, 538 Main St, Grand Junction, CO 81501. Currently abortion is protected in Colorado, but only by a statutory law enacted in 2022 called the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which confers only weak protection that could easily be changed by a vote of Republicans trying to further restrict women’s rights.

Amendment 89 will assure that all Coloradans, regardless of occupation or source of health insurance, have access to reproductive healthcare. Currently, teachers, firefighters, other state and local public employees and people enrolled in state health insurance plans lack insurance coverage (pdf) for abortion care, an inequity that

Republicans are passing laws to restrict womens freedom in the U.S., leading to the need for states to pass constitutional amendments to guarantee women keep those hard-won rights.

Amendment 89 aims to address. As a constitutional amendment, Amendment 89 will also be a stronger buffer against future attempts by politicians in Colorado to limit abortion access in our state.

What’s wrong with “Medicare Advantage” plans?

Frame from a TV ad by a local agency that sells Medicare Advantage plans

At this time of year, ads hawking “Medicare Advantage” plans flood every possible media outlet, imploring seniors to call 1-800 numbers and contact their local insurance brokers for “free Medicare evaluations” where brokers can sign them up for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, also called Part C plans, that offer premiums a bit lower than traditional Medicare and freebies like vision screenings, dental cleanings, gym memberships and a monthly allowance to spend on drugstore merchandise.

These plans definitely sound alluring, but don’t be fooled.

Craig Gallery in Palisade to host art event 11/25 to benefit HopeWest

Painting by Kay Crane of the Craig Gallery in Palisade with a bow on it like the ones that will designate art pieces that, if sold at the Nov. 25th event, will benefit HopeWest

Craig Gallery at 128 E. 3rd in downtown Palisade is hosting a holiday event called “Put a Bow on It” on Saturday, November 25, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Owner Tammy Craig says, “In the spirit of the season, ten percent of all sales and 100% of pieces sold sporting a bow will be donated to HopeWest.”

Gallery Director Kay Crane says, “We’re so happy to be able to do this.  My family has been helped and comforted by HopeWest, as have so many others in the Grand Valley.  Hospice is all about comfort — for those who are leaving and those who are staying.”

The gallery features a wide variety of artistic pieces aimed at holiday gift giving, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, jewelry, photography and more. They say they have something to fit every budget and taste.

Artists featured in Craig Gallery include Dianna Fritzler, Cynthia Duff, Bud Markos, Chris Eaton, Christine Feller, Diane Anglim, DJ Janowski, Gail Evans, Gayle Garson, Gerry Jensen, Jennifer Kass, John Anglim, Kathryn McBride, Kay Crane, Lori Brietzke (Lorelei), Mary Pat Ettinger, Monica Esposito, Nancee Busse, Nina Williams, Peg Oswald, Ron Cloyd, Sandi Seckman, Shavique, Diane Saulnier, Tammy Craig and Matthew Seeds.

Mesa County Commissioners’ new chair of the Public Health Board refuses to say if he believes Covid-19 was “targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people” and spare Jews and Chinese people

On of the many Facebook and Instagram posts by Mesa County Board of Public Health chair Stephen D. Daniels, lauding Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a vocal anti-vaxxer who has spread lies and conspiracy theories for “the better part of two decades.”

The Mesa County Commissioners’ newly-appointed Chair of the Public Health Board, Stephen D. Daniels, has made it known that he is a strong supporter of anti-vax conspiracy theorist and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (RFK). In multiple posts on his social media accounts, Daniels urges people to be open to discussion about Kennedy’s views and believe what Kennedy has to say.

But does Daniels support what RFK told a table full of people last week at a press event in Manhattan (video), that the Covid-19 virus is “ethnically targeted” to attack Caucasians and Black people, and to spare Jews and Chinese people?

RFK’s comments were widely reported as being a “Bigoted new Covid conspiracy about Jews and Chinese” (NY Times), as being “deplorable” and “hurtful” (Fox News), as spreading “false claims” about Covid-19 (CBS News) and  being “antisemitic and racist” (ABC News).

Specifically, RFK said in part,

“There is an argument that it [Covid-19] is ethnically targeted. COVID-19 attacks certain races disproportionately. COVID-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

The Mesa County employee behind the effort to fire Public Health Department Director Jeff Kuhr

Lisa Rickerd Mills (Photo: Facebook)

Lisa Mills is a behavioral health strategies manager for Mesa County’s Department of Health and Human Services and by all indications seems to be a key figure in the County’s recent ongoing, unhinged efforts to take down Dr. Jeff Kuhr as longtime Director of the Mesa County Public Health Department (MCPHD).

Teachers union president resigns via email amid flap over school closures & conservative school board members’ rejection of health clinic at GJHS

Timothy Couch, President of the Mesa Valley Education Association (MVEA), resigned via email March 8, on the same day the three-member conservative District 51 School Board majority ignored the pleas of students and voted to reject an offer by Marillac Health to operate a grant-funded, school-based health clinic at Grand Junction High School.  The three Board members rejected the clinic at a time when homelessness among D-51 students is rapidly increasing and a Youth Risk Behavior survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (pdf) found poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among students are increasing nationwide. According to the CDC, in 2021, almost 60% of female students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year and nearly 25% made a suicide plan. Suicide is also a growing problem among Mesa County youth and suicide prevention is a “health priority” for Mesa County Public Health.

Bigger than Roe western slope march planned for Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023 @ 1:00 p.m.

Crowd gathering in front of the old courthouse before the 2019 Womens March in downtown Grand Junction

Fifty years to the day after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade made abortion a constitutional right, a march will be held locally in Grand Junction to demand that federal protections for abortion not only be restored, but be made even better than Roe allowed.

Last June (2022), the far-right Republican majority now sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court stunned the country when it reversed 50 years of precedent in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, invalidating Roe v Wade.  The ruling end Americans’ federally-protected right to obtain an abortion.  It was the first time the Supreme Court has ever taken away a fundamental constitutional protection from people in the United States of America.

Need help finding and paying for an abortion in Grand Junction? Contact Cobalt. They’ll help.

Cobalt Advocates and the Cobalt Abortion Fund are a terrific resources for anyone seeking an abortion on the western slope

If you live in Grand Junction, Mesa County or anywhere on the western slope, need an abortion and are having a hard time finding and/or affording one, your best resource and first stop should be Cobalt Advocates.

Cobalt believes nothing should come between you and your reproductive decisions, no matter who you are or where you live. Cobalt operates the Cobalt Abortion Fund, a dedicated abortion fund that helps people cover the cost of an abortion. They also help with the costs and logistics and other needs people often have when getting an abortion, like transportation and lodging. The Cobalt Abortion fund is 100% donor-funded, and is the only independent fund of its kind in Colorado. Cobalt’s goal is to make sure no one has to endure a a financial or logistic burden when it comes to abortion.

Need an abortion in Grand Junction, or on the western slope? Here is updated information.

NOTE: I’ve written about how to obtain an abortion in Mesa County before on this blog, most recently in 2020, but the landscape on this issue keeps changing. Some options disappear while others expand, and with potential changes looming on the national policy front, I’m re-visiting the topic, and will continue to update it periodically. 

In light of the recently-leaked draft Supreme Court ruling indicating the right wing majority of the U.S. Supreme Court is likely next month to formally overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that assured abortion was legal throughout the U.S., it is prudent to revisit the issue of abortion in Colorado, and specifically how to obtain one in Grand Junction and on the western slope.

First of all, there is no reason to fear losing the right to have an abortion in Colorado, ever. Abortion will stay legal and accessible in Colorado, whatever the Supreme Court does.

G.J. citizens rally to protest draft Supreme Court opinion indicating Court will vote to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion

Supporters of abortion rights attend a hastily-called rally in front of the old Mesa County Courthouse on 5/3/22 to protest an impending Supreme Court decision that threatens American womens’ right to obtain an abortion.

The Mesa County Women’s Right Action League organized a rally on short notice today in response to a leaked draft of a major Supreme Court decision published by Politico that indicates the far right majority on the Court will vote to eliminate women’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to obtain an abortion, a right women have had for 50 years. The rollback of womens’ freedom would be unprecedented.

Featured speakers included Jennifer Hancock, a board member of Cobalt, a Colorado-based organization that that helps people get access to abortions, Heidi Hesse of One Colorado, Jeriel Clark and Pastor Valerie Carlson of the American Lutheran Church.

“Gold standard” medical study finds Ivermectin does not reduce risk of severe Covid-19

A large number of Mesa County residents harbor the mistaken belief that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, used to de-worm horses and prevent heart worm in dogs, can treat Covid-19, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says this is not true.

The bogus idea that Ivermectin is effective against Covid was promoted locally by Grand Junction area chiropractors who spread medical misinformation about Covid-19, including one who urged people to buy livestock-strength Ivermectin and administer it to themselves as a Covid-preventative. Some local chiropractors spread medical misinformation and discouraged people from getting safe and effective vaccines against the disease as a way to help sell their own proprietary brand of supplements they claimed would prevent Covid-19. Members of the Mesa County Republican Party even introduced a resolution for their party’s platform to try to make Ivermectin an over-the-counter drug in Colorado.

After Ivermectin poisonings surged across the country in 2021 due to the spread of this dangerous misinformation, the FDA created an entire web page explaining why people should not use Ivermectin to try to prevent, treat or mitigate Covid-19.

Now there’s even more proof that using Ivermectin to treat Covid is pointless: A large-scale “gold standard” study on using Ivermectin to treat Covid was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it concluded Ivermectin does not reduce the likelihood of hospitalization from Covid-19.

Another Rimrock Wellness Center chiropractor dispenses dangerous medical disinformation

Charles Daniel Vaden

For many people, chiropractors are de facto primary health care providers, particularly in medically underserved rural areas like the western slope. Many people find it easier and more affordable to see a chiropractor than an M.D., and tend see their chiropractors far more often than they do M.D.s., generating familiarity and a relationship of trust with these health professionals. This puts chiropractors in a unique position to deliver vital public health information to a good portion of the community. They could, for example, be educating people about positive health behaviors, informing them about what’s scientifically proven to keep people safe from contracting Covid-19, telling people what works best to keep them of the hospital if they get Covid-19, and helping them know when to seek further medical care.

But instead of using their valuable position to benefit public health, it turns out many Grand Junction chiropractors are dispensing egregiously false medical information about vaccines and how to prevent Covid-19. And these chiropractors aren’t just flushing their value as a community public health asset down the toilet. They are lying to the people who support them financially and trust them the most, misleading people in very dangerous ways and often doing it for profit.

Another local chiropractor spreads dangerous misinformation about Covid prevention and treatment

Photo: YouTube, 2010

In October, 2021, the U.S. News and World Report revealed chiropractors are a major force stirring up anti-vaccine sentiment and spreading medical misinformation across the country in the pandemic. Often regarded as trusted health professionals, chiropractors who do this pose a potent threat to the public by hawking supplements as alternatives to vaccines, working to help people evade vaccine mandates, recommending unapproved and potentially toxic medication regimens to treat and prevent Covid, and abetting anti-vaccine movements at the local level.

That is certainly happening here in Grand Junction, too.

G.J. chiropractor recommends novel but fraudulent way for anti-vaxxers to try to avoid mandatory Covid vaccination

New Life Chiropractic on Patterson Rd., operated by Wesley Sheader, recommends “VaxControlGroup.com” to anti-vaxxers who are trying to evade vaccine mandates. The only problem is, it’s fraudulent.

Grand Junction chiropractor Wesley Sheader of New Life Chiropractic at 2532 Patterson Road is giving people trying to evade Covid-19 vaccine mandates a unique way to evade the jab: he suggests they join an unvaccinated study control group which can issue them an official-looking ID card saying they can’t be vaccinated because they are a participant in the study.

The only thing is, there is no study and the “control group” is a scam.