What role should the government play when it comes to women’s reproductive health?
Summit residents came together to discuss this question and others during a “community conversation” in Frisco hosted by state Rep. Millie Hamner on Friday afternoon.
The focus of the gathering was on women’s health issues and reproductive rights.
“I know some of you have been paying attention to what’s been happening in other states, so this is a topic, I think, of special importance and interest to the group,” Hamner said.
The meeting was attended by a variety of local public officials and by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo.
Hamner introduced former state representative Karen Middleton to speak at the meeting. Middleton is the new executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado.
“In the eight weeks since I’ve been in the position, we have had efforts from state legislatures across the country to roll back reproductive rights. It has been really challenging for women who are living in those states and their families,” Middleton said.
Middleton spoke to the audience about the mission of her organization as well as the historical views she said have been expressed by Colorado voters.
“We have a pretty good proactive agenda that says, ‘Stay out of my personal decisions, make sure the government doesn’t go too far and make sure women and families have access to resources,’” Middleton said during the meeting.
Although the community conversation was advertised as a discussion with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, when it came to community discussion, audience members had a variety of questions and concerns encompassing a multitude of viewpoints.
Questions raised included how abstinence sex education compares with comprehensive sex education, at what age someone should be considered an adult and whether parents should be required to be involved in reproductive health choices for teenage girls, whether birth control is healthy for women and at what point men’s education comes into the picture.
Community discussion also focused around the question of belief systems and morals surrounding women’s reproductive health decisions.
“Does the subject of morality ever come in?” one audience member asked.
Middleton said, yes it does, but in her opinion, Colorado voters have said repeatedly that these decisions are best left to women in consultation with their doctors, families, friends and faith.
The NARAL representative said she was planning to visit counties throughout Colorado to keep spreading the word about women’s health issues. Hamner said although she didn’t currently plan to introduce any bills regarding women’s reproductive rights, she will keep feedback gained through the meeting in mind when she returns to the Legislature.
“In the eight weeks since I’ve been in the position, we have had efforts from state legislatures across the country to roll back reproductive rights. It has been really challenging for women who are living in those states and their families.”
Executive director, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado