Tag: Human rights

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.

Backers needed to submit 124,238 valid signatures (pdf) and in addition had to gather signatures from each state senate district equal to two percent of the total registered voters from each district. Backers far exceeded that, submitting 225,688 petition signatures overall, and a total of 159,930 valid signatures overall.

Mesa County is in Senate District 7 and proponents needed to gather at least 2,561 valid signatures from our district. They far exceeded that as well, gathering 4,448 valid signatures (pdf) from District 7.  Senate District 7 is comprised of Mesa County and a small part of Delta County.

Map of State Senate District 7 (Source: Ballotpedia)

 

 

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

 

Former CMU Professor Tom Acker to run against Cody Davis for County Commissioner

Retired CMU Spanish Professor Tom Acker

A Democrat has joined the race against Cody Davis for Mesa County Commissioner. Tom Acker is currently the only Democrat running for local office in Mesa County.

Acker was a professor of Spanish language at CMU for two decades. He is now a retired professor emeritus, an honorary title conferred upon him for his distinguished service to the academic community. He is a founding member of the award-winning Hispanic Affairs Project.

Originally from the east coast, in the 1980s Acker worked with refugees from the Mariel Boatlift, after over 125,000 Cubans piled into boats and headed for Florida after the Cuban government announced that anyone who wanted to leave the country was free to do so.

While he lived in Pennsylvania, Acker worked with a federally-funded agency to help farmers interact with agriculture workers.

United Way to host Poverty Immersion Experience to increase understanding of what life is like for people living in poverty in Mesa County


The Poverty Immersion Experience allows participants to spend a simulated month in the life of an individual who is experiencing poverty in Mesa County. It is an interactive event that promotes awareness of poverty in Mesa County, increases understanding of people facing poverty situations and that will inspire local change. The intent is to shift the belief and paradigm about poverty from being seen as a personal failure or character flaw to the understanding that poverty is a systemic and societal issue.

The experience offers a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a low-income family, navigating life with limited resources, while providing for their children and accessing essential community services.

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.

Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland has used county agencies to advance her personal ideology and interfere in personnel decisions before

Board of Mesa County Commissioners. (L-R: Bobbie Daniel, Cody Davis and Janet Rowland). Photo: Mesa County

District Attorney Dan Rubinstein announced he’s closed the investigation into the Mesa County Commissioners’ allegations of financial wrongdoing by Mesa County Public Health Director Dr. Jeff Kuhr, saying,

“We lack sufficient evidence of anything criminal…” and “…[We] lack sufficient evidence that Mr. Kuhr was personally involved in, or personally directed, any level of reporting that would make him criminally culpable for material misstatements.”

With Janet Rowland at the helm, so far the Commissioners have spent $49,000 in taxpayer funds on a financial audit of Kuhr in an attempt to try find some reason to fire him, in addition digging up and spreading around negative personnel comments about Kuhr from as far back as 2011. So far, everything they’ve found, including a $219 alcohol purchase that has since been reimbursed, have fallen flat. Even four members of the Mesa County Board of Health have said nothing they’ve seen about Kuhr so far rises to the level of a fireable offense. Then they all resigned in protest after learning the Commissioners were going to fire them if they didn’t agree to fire Kuhr.

Still no accountability for the murder of 25 year old Gage Lorentz by a National Park Service Ranger

 

Screen shot from Ranger Mitchell’s body camera showing the moment he shot Gage Lorentz point-blank in the chest after pulling him over for speeding on a dirt road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Lorentz was unarmed, unintoxicated and alone at the time.

Gage Lorentz, a graduate of Fruita Monument High School, was murdered on March 21, 2020, by a law enforcement officer while heading home to Montrose. He was driving home alone on an isolated back road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see his family after working for weeks on a drilling rig in the outskirts of Pecos, Texas.

National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell pulled Gage over for speeding on a dirt road inside the Park. Gage was alone, unarmed, unintoxicated and followed all of Mitchell’s orders until he ordered Gage to turn around and put his back to him. At that point, Gage refused to comply. The officer’s body camera video shows that seconds later, Mitchell had pinned Gage to the ground, was on top of him and shot him, point-blank, in the chest, killing him.

City cancels meeting about homelessness, out of apparent concern the homeless would attend

After hosting two internal planning meetings and circulating emails (pdf) in which Grand Junction Community Development personnel warned the City faces a “really big surge” and “exponential growth” in the number of homeless people, and that the number of homeless kids in School District 51 is “staggering,” City Manager Greg Caton suddenly pulled the plug on a planned third meeting about homelessness, without any explanation why.

This left advocates for the homeless greatly concerned.

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.

Kremlin state TV praises House Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) for refusing to stand and applaud Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

Tucker Carlson and Lauren Boebert praised by Russian state TV

Western Colorado House Rep. Lauren Boebert has a new fan — the Kremlin in Russia.

Boebert votes against bill to protect Americans’ right to contraceptives

House Rep. Lauren Boebert

Republican Colorado House Rep. Lauren Boebert may tell you she stands for freedom, but she is actually working to undermine your freedom.

A recent case in point: on July 21, 2022, Boebert voted against House Bill 8373, the “Right to Contraception Act.”

After the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June and Clarence Thomas threatened to reconsider other privacy issues including the right to contraception, Democrat Kathy Manning of North Carolina introduced the Right to Contraception Act, to “protect a person’s ability to access contraceptives and to engage in contraception, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information related to contraception.”

Who doesn’t want to be assured they will have the personal freedom to learn about, access and use contraceptives as they see fit?

Lauren Boebert and 194 other House Republicans, that’s who. Only eight House Republicans who voted for the bill.

You can read the full text of the Right to Contraception Act here.

So Boebert had a chance to protect a crucial freedom, and voted against it.

Fortunately, House Democrats advanced the bill to the Senate.

If you love freedom, it’s crucial to vote Democratic up and down the next ballot, since we now have a Christian activist Supreme Court that is taking action to restrict Americans’ rights in accordance with their own personal religious beliefs.

But if you want to be assured removal of more of your personal rights and freedoms, vote Republican.

 

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.

D-51 School Board President’s transphobic social media posts draw condemnation

District 51 School Board President posted this photo to social media recently on her personal account

Recent social media posts by District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz, and one in particular that she posted on Mother’s Day, are drawing condemnation, disgust and shock from many Mesa County residents who saw them.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters takes exception to atheists on social media

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ biased comment on the “Transparency in Mesa County” Facebook page.

 

Embattled Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters expressed contempt for atheists yesterday in a comment on social media, sowing further doubt about whether she can truly conduct her office in an impartial manner.

Here is how the comment came about:

Participants on the public group Facebook page “Transparency in Mesa County” had been discussing the County Clerk’s office after it was found that they forgot to collect and count 574+ ballots from the November, 2019 combined general election.

National Park ranger shoots, kills unarmed young Fruita man in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Gage Lorentz, 26, was killed by National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell during a traffic stop for speeding on a dirt road in Carlsbad Caverns National Park March 21. Gage was unarmed and had no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time he was fatally shot. The family is calling for the arrest and prosecution of the park ranger who murdered him.

Police murdering unarmed citizens in cold blood doesn’t just happen to people from other places.

A National Park Ranger murdered a young Fruita man last March in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, as he was headed home to Fruita from Texas.

The murder was covered locally in March, but has taken on renewed significance after George Floyd’s brutal murder in Minneapolis shined a spotlight on the unchecked police brutality going on all across the nation.

Gage Lorentz was unarmed and had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he was pulled over for going too fast on a dirt road.

In new documentary, “Jane Roe” of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision reveals she was paid to switch sides in the abortion debate


In a new documentary released Friday, May 22, Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe V. Wade, reveals that she was paid by anti-abortion factions to switch her position from supporting to opposing abortion rights for women.

Need an abortion in Grand Junction? Here is information.

If you are pregnant and looking for an abortion in Mesa County, you may find information about abortion services is very hard to find here. Local obstetrical practices don’t mention abortion on their websites and may not even offer abortion services. “Pregnancy Centers” are fake health clinics in the area that lure in scared and worried women by promising free services, like pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and “counseling,” but they are really Christian ministries whose real purpose is to shame and guilt women out of getting abortions.

The closest provider of safe medical abortions is 90 miles away in Glenwood Springs, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Their slogan is “Care no matter what.”

But don’t despair. You may not have to leave town to obtain a safe abortion.

Thanks to the internet, there are now options for women to access abortion services no matter where they are, and you may even not have to leave home to get an abortion if you live in Grand Junction.

UPDATE: On December 16, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permanently lifted restrictions on access to abortion medications by mail, making them more widely and easily available for use by women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant. The move allows women to obtain the pills by mail instead of having to appear in person at a clinic.

What to do if ICE comes knocking: Know your rights

On the same day Trump’s raids on immigrant families are scheduled to start (today), Trump issued a series of tweets that make his racism very clear:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…… ….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how……..it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

Trump and his administration are working to create terror in immigrant communities throughout the U.S. by directing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) carry out sweeping “family op” raids across the country on undocumented immigrant families who have been in the United States for years.