April 25 marks 50 years since Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to legalize abortion. In a statement released Tuesday, the bishops of Colorado called for continued prayers and efforts to build up a culture of life in the state.
“Amid celebrating the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we pause to remember the dark shadow cast over Colorado 50 years ago,” said a statement from the Colorado Catholic Conference.
“As we reflect on the fiftieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Colorado, we express immense sympathy for the victims of this horrific assault on human dignity.”
Colorado was the first state in the nation to decriminalize abortion. The initial legislation, signed into law April 25, 1967, allowed abortion in certain limited cases: rape, incest, or a prediction of permanent mental or physical disability of either the child or mother.
Sponsored by legislator Dick Lamm, the abortion bill was signed by Governor John Love, who stressed at the time that no medical facility or professional would ever be required to participate in an abortion.
“I am certain that the operation provided for will occur only in hospitals, subject to a severe test of accreditation, which will successfully prevent anything approaching abortion clinics,” he added at the time, according to the Associated Press.
Six years later, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade would declare abortion to be a constitutional right nationwide. The Colorado ruling also paved the way for other states, such as California, Oregon and North Carolina, to follow suit.
What began as a limited law in Colorado is now a much broader legalization, which allows for abortion throughout an entire pregnancy.
While the Colorado bishops lamented the past 50 years of legalized abortion within the state, they also highlighted the numerous pro-life efforts that are aiding pregnant women.
“We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to those throughout Colorado who serve the pro-life cause in immeasurable ways,” the bishops said.
“We are encouraged and uplifted by the great number of young people that have taken up the cause of protecting and defending life with passion and enthusiasm. We honor the incredible work of pregnancy centers and agencies that provide vital counseling, pre- and post-natal care, housing and material support to those women in need of such care.”
The bishops also underscored the importance of offering support to women without condemnation, while at the same time remaining firm in the “denunciation of abortion.” They encouraged the faithful to become active supporters of life by helping pregnant women or pro-life organizations.
“During this Easter season, we are called to be men and women of the Resurrection – messengers of hope and life to a world often filled with affliction and suffering,” they said.
“May God give us strength to continue our efforts in Colorado to promote a culture that recognizes the dignity and beauty of every human life from conception to natural death.”