Coloradans this election have the opportunity to vote on something BIG – and it’s all thanks to an army of pro-life advocates in the Denver area who made it happen. Currently, it’s legal in Colorado to abort a child up until birth for any reason. This beautiful, mountain state is one of seven states in the U.S. with this insane policy. An initiative called Due Date Too Late, in partnership with others, are working to change that with a ballot initiative & corresponding voter education. After all, many Coloradans don’t even know the state’s abortion laws are this extreme.
A spokesperson and leading organizer for the fight to get a common sense abortion limit on the ballot is Students for Life’s own Lauren (Lo) Castillo. Thanks to Lo and the diligent work of community members (including Students for Life students and young adults), enough signatures were collected to get Prop 115, a 22-week abortion ban, on the ballot on November 3rd.
Lo’s introduction to the pro-life movement is one echoed by many other young people. It was her first trip to the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. that ignited her passion to protect the preborn. Seeing so many other young people around her, the same age, gave her the motivation to put into action her pro-life beliefs. Lo even had the chance to connect with Students for Life for the first time during that trip, and, as they say, the rest was history. She left the experience and started a Students for Life group at her high school, then went on to get involved with the Students for Life group at Regis University.
An Unplanned Pregnancy & A Calling
During her time in college, Lo went through a life-changing experience. She shared:
“I faced an unplanned pregnancy going into my senior year of college. I realized I now had to ‘walk the walk’ of my pro-life beliefs. Regis is a very small campus where everyone knows everyone, but even so, I realized how difficult it was to be pregnant and parenting student. My son was due right around graduation, but he was born 6 weeks early.
Working on my senior thesis, working part-time, and being a caregiver to my mom with leukemia, all with a newborn… was a LOT to balance. I remember all the voices around me during this time. There was a mixture of people in pro-life community, celebrating the new life. But then there was everybody else, doubting me. During pregnancy, people asked if I’d have an abortion, how it would affect my career and other life choices.”
Lo shared that being a pregnant student fully solidified her pro-life position. She had a major realization: pregnant students need help! There were no changing tables in the school bathrooms, no adequate nursing or pumping spaces on campus, and other poor accommodations. The school desks didn’t fit pregnant people, either. But not many people seemed to notice or care. No professors asked if she needed anything. Lo went to talk to Dean of Student Activity, advocating for better resources and to then promote those resources to other students in her situation. There simply wasn’t a place for these students to go at this Jesuit school.
Lo was called to work for Students for Life in 2013, and notes that it “was the beginning of a vocation.” She didn’t want others in her position to feel like they had to choose between their child and their goals. So when she started with Students for Life as a Regional Coordinator, she was able to help dozens of student groups help pregnant students on their campuses.
During her time as a pregnant student and young parent, Lo said only those in the pro-life community lent a helping hand. “I owe so much to the pro-life movement in my area for the love and support they gave me during this time period,” she said
Getting Involved with Colorado’s Late-Term Abortion Ban
Initially, one of the board members for the Coalition for Women and Children reached out and asked if Lo would come on as the official spokesperson for the campaign/initiative. Lo reflected,
“It was a definite yes! I’m a native of Colorado and it’s so important to me. This is the first time I’ve worked on a late-term ban on the ballot. It’s of particular importance because the abortion industry calls our area an “abortion safe haven.’ I’ve sidewalk counseled outside the Boulder abortion facility, which is the main late-term abortion facility, and I see extremely pregnant women walk in for abortions. 7 or 8 months along. This ballot initiative is SO needed.”
“We can do better. Because I’ve been full-time in the pro-life movement for 8+ years, I knew how many better options there were. So I knew that these women who would otherwise choose late-term abortion had better healthcare options. There are perinatal hospice, material assistance, affordable healthcare, other strong infrastructure options in place for them.”
What’s It Like to be a Spokesperson for a Pro-Life Law?
As part of her role working on Proposition 115, Lo talks to media, does interviews, excites the community about the project, and serves on the board of a cross-denominational representation of churches (a diverse group in agreement that Prop 115 is a sensible restriction). She also helps with more “red-meat” activism like honk and waves, prayer chains, and door knocking – all while wearing a baby!
Against All Odds
To get Proposition 115 on the ballot, the Colorado pro-lifers needed thousands of signatures. According to local reporters, there had not been a campaign (other than this one) that did not pay for signatures/signature gatherers. It was completely a volunteer effort! Older people all the way down to students got involved, gathering signatures outside of stores, in drive-throughs, and in parks. Volunteers actually kept getting kicked out of the places they were signature-gathering and had to seek legal help because they were allowed to be there. They had to stand with a lawyer to advocate for their First Amendment rights!
It was a roller coaster. The signature effort initially fell short, but they doubled down. Then COVID hit. There was uncertainty – could they do digital? In light of COVID, the Governor of Colorado did allow groups to collect digital signatures… for all groups EXCEPT THIS ONE. The discrimination is blatant and a lawsuit was filed. But this wasn’t the only obstacle put in their way by pro-abortion politicians. The Colorado Attorney General himself has lied on social media about what Prop 115 would do.
What are Some Things That’ve Happened While Working on This Project?
Lo reported both positive and negative encounters during her months working on the Due Date Too Late project. On the not-so-good end, she recalls plenty of middle fingers and swearing from passing cars while doing honk & wave events. She also shared a conversation she had with a young woman during which Lo asked if she was going to vote yes to enact the 22-week ban. The woman replied, “No, it’s a woman’s right to choose.” After a longer conversation, the woman eventually admitted a horrifying belief: that she would be fine with killing a baby after birth if the umbilical cord was still attached.
A bit amusingly, Lo was also called a racist by a random stranger whilst doing activism for the project. Yes, a pro-choice white lady called Lo, a pro-life Latina, a racist for working against due date abortions.
But it wasn’t all bad. Lo also got a chance to speak to a young African-American girl who said she didn’t support Proposition 115. Lo asked if it was okay if she explained how late-term abortions are done, and the girl was shocked. She had no idea that Colorado has zero restrictions. Lo also explained the myriad of better options for women. At this point, the girl explained how her sister had had a baby 5 days prior and how she couldn’t imagine that baby being killed just a week earlier. The girl ended up voicing support for Prop 115!
This Fits Into the National Narrative
Colorado voters, from what Lo and her pro-life partner organizations have seen, really mirror the national polling. Once people KNOW the truth about abortion, they want more restrictions. It’s all about education. This has turned out to be true even with life of the mother or other hard cases. Lo noted that a good talking point was the concept of treating both mother and child like patients and demanding that both deserve better. Just like on a national level, there’s more common ground than people think and most favor common sense restrictions.
Anyone Can Do It!
Anyone who sees a problem in their community can work to fix it. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your experience is, or even how old you are. Lo said,
“When you see an issue in your community, you can do more than you think you can. You can expand resources to families that make abortion unthinkable. It starts with community members coming together. Take it step by step. Work in a unified way, play to people’s strengths. Getting started is the hardest part. ”