Three days after a "Women's March" drew over 100,000 people to the front of the state Capitol, a coalition of health and justice groups--joined by state lawmakers--gathered inside the building to launch "Women and Families Wednesdays" to ensure that the "voices of our communities are heard loud and clear at the Capitol."
The weekly lobbying event will "continue the momentum we all saw here last Saturday at the Women's March," said Karen Middleton, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, at a news conference Wednesday. The focus, she said, will be on "reproductive health and reproductive justice."
The launch of Women and Families Wednesdays came as the Trump Administration, in one of its first actions, cut U.S. funds for the United Nations Population Fund, a move that will result in an uptick in the deaths of mothers and children worldwide, according to critics of Trump's action.
"This weekend we saw hundreds of thousands of Coloradans showing their support for women and women's rights, which are in jeopardy," said State Rep. KC Becker (D-Boulder), who's the Colorado House Majority Leader, pointing to efforts both in Washington DC and Colorado to outlaw abortion and cut health-care programs for low-income people. "We cannot go back. We will not go back in Colorado."
"I think there's momentum to fight back," said State Rep. Faith Winter (D-Westminster). "I think there's excitement. People are paying attention. White women for the first time in a generation are having to fight for equal rights, for justice. It's real."
Christy Rodriquez, Director of an anti-choice organization called Colorado Campaign for Life, doesn't necessarily trust that some Republicans will pursue the anti-abortion agenda they've promised.
"You see, we elected men and women whom we think are good Pro-life Republicans," Rodriquez wrote in an email this week to supporters. "Like the Republican mascot - Elephants, strong and proud.
But, when it comes to the issue of Life, instead of strong elephants we've seen balled up snakes, hatching their lame agenda - namely, keeping their 'seat' and getting re-elected whatever the cost.
Well - those seats cost lives!...even when we ran life-saving legislation last session there were several 'Republicans' who voted against pro-life bills in Committee hearings.
Rodriquez emphasized in her email that some Republicans, like Colorado State Rep. Stephen Humphrey (R-Eaton) and others, are reliable and will fight against abortion and other choice measures.
Speakers at Wednesday's news conference do not see Republicans moving off an anti-choice agenda that they say has been expanding in recent years.
"Every year we see attempts to put up more and more obstacles to abortion care or deny health coverage to the critical range of contraception," said Cristina Aguilar, Director of COLOR.
"I can assure you that I will not back down in demanding quality and affordable health-care access for all Coloradans," said State Sen. Irene Aquilar (D-Denver), noting that state Senate Republicans have introduced a bill to repeal Colorado's health care exchange created as part of Obamacare. "We will not go back on the progress we have made in our state."
Women and Family Wednesdays is a collaborative effort between five local progressive nonprofits: 9to5 Colorado, COLOR, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Protégete - Conservation Colorado, and Women's Lobby of Colorado.