State Ballot Questions on Life and Family Await Voters in November

California, Colorado and Louisiana voters will vote on abortion measures, while Nevada and Washington voters will face ballot questions that affect marriage and the family.

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Although Donald Trump and Joe Biden — and now rapper-turned-evangelist Kanye West — headline the election news with their respective presidential campaigns, state and local candidates and measures will fill most of voters’ ballots in November. 

California, Colorado and Louisiana voters will all face measures that deal with the deliberate destruction of human beings in their first weeks and months of life. 

Colorado and Louisiana have the opportunity to restrict abortion, while California will decide whether or not to further fund embryo-killing stem-cell research.

California’s Proposition 14 will seek $5.5 billion for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), to fund grants for stem-cell research, including research involving destruction of human embryos.

In 2004, voters approved the creation of the CIRM, issued $3 billion in bonds to finance it, and established a state constitutional right to conduct stem-cell research. In 2019, the CIRM ran out of money and stopped accepting applications for new projects. 

The CIRM pays for research that uses and destroys embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then rejected by their parents. While adult stem-cell and umbilical cord-blood research has yielded myriad cures, embryonic stem-cell research is still credited with none. 

Jeff Sheehy, a board member of the CIRM, opposes Proposition 14 for a number of reasons, including that California can only afford the new bonds at great cost to critical infrastructure during this fiscal crisis. He also worries about who benefits from the spending.

In his statement explaining his opposition, he said, “I continue to have serious concerns around Board member conflicts of interest, with the majority of the Board coming from institutions that have received the bulk of CIRM’s spending. Rather than being addressed in the new measure, conflicts of interest are exacerbated with the new measure adding Board members from institutions that receive funding.”

Embryonic stem-cell research is condemned by the Church.

“The obtaining of stem cells from a living human embryo ... invariably causes the death of the embryo and is consequently gravely illicit: ‘research, in such cases, irrespective of efficacious therapeutic results, is not truly at the service of humanity,’” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in the instruction Dignitas Personae, quoting Pope Benedict XVI.

Pope St. John Paul II said that all research using stem cells from human embryos is “morally unacceptable.”

In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae, John Paul said, “This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses — sometimes ‘produced’ for this purpose by in vitro fertilization — either to be used as ‘biological material’ or as providers or organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.” 


Colorado Abortion Ban Initiative

Colorado voters will decide whether to pass the “22-Week Abortion Ban Initiative.” The initiative would prohibit physicians from performing abortions on women more than 22 weeks pregnant as measured from their last menstrual period (LMP), which is about 20 weeks after conception.

Doctors commonly use LMP to measure the length of a pregnancy. Physicians who perform abortions after 22 weeks — except if the mother’s life is in danger — could be charged with a misdemeanor, fined and have their medical license suspended. Mothers cannot be charged under the law. 

Colorado law currently allows abortion up until birth for any reason. 

In January at the annual Celebrate Life Rally and March in Denver, Archbishop Samuel Aquila described his encounters with abortion while working in a hospital as a premed student.

“The first was in the surgical unit. A nurse had sent me into the surgical unit to get something for another surgery that was going on,” he said. “And there in the sink, I saw a small human body of an aborted child, probably about 6 to 7 months old.” 

“The second was even more shocking, as it was late at night, and a young woman came in yelling. ... She was in hard contractions and hemorrhaging,” Archbishop Aquila said. “The doctor had given her a saline abortion. ... As we began to treat her, the doctor had me standing next to him, holding an emesis basin, in which he placed a tiny arm with its little hand and tiny fingers, a tiny leg with tiny toes, and then the rest of the body, all broken apart. ... I will never, ever forget that I stood witness to these acts of unspeakable brutality. Only persons whose consciences are dead, who have no conscience, can participate in such things.”

The Colorado bishops released a statement July 1, urging Coloradans to vote for the late-term abortion ban. “Ending the legal protection for abortion is the most important political objective of Colorado Catholics because these children are deprived of their right to live.”

Louisiana voters have the option to amend their state constitution to explicitly state that it does not protect abortion. A string of court decisions have found a right to abortion in state constitutions, most recently the Kansas Supreme Court in 2019. Louisiana’s “No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment” reads, “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops “enthusiastically” supports the amendment.


Marriage and Family

Nevada and Washington voters face decisions concerning marriage and family.

Nevada’s “Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment” would repeal and replace a 2002 amendment, which declares that Nevada only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.

The amendment states that “Nevada and its political subdivisions shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender” and says that all legal marriages must be treated equally under the law. The amendment protects the right of only religious organizations and clergy to refuse to solemnize marriages.

All states are currently required to recognize and issue licenses for civil marriages, regardless of the sex of the parties, due to the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell decision. The Supreme Court found that same-sex “marriage” is protected under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment and so rendered unenforceable laws defining marriage as only between one man and one woman. 

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of the offspring” (1601). The Catechism goes on to state, “the vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator” (1603).

This spring, the Washington state legislature passed — and Gov. Jay Inslee signed — a law requiring every public school to provide “comprehensive sex education” to every student, K-12. Voters have the option to repeal the law through a referendum. 

A “reject” vote on “Washington Referendum 90, Sex Education in Public Schools Measure” is a vote in opposition to enacting of the law. 

Mark Miloscia, executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, says the program is “complete sexualization of children in Washington state.” Further, the sex-ed “program and curriculum will now be decided by the superintendent and taken away from local school boards and districts and parents.”

Planned Parenthood is a main proponent of the law.

“For the first time, this bill will teach affirmative consent,” Miloscia told the Register. “Now all children will be taught by standards according to Planned Parenthood and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction how children should ask for sex.” 

Other measures of note include California’s bill to repeal a ban on discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin; Utah’s bill that would allow income tax to be used to support children and those with disabilities in addition to funding higher education; and multiple states’ bills to legalize marijuana.

Register correspondent Mary Rose Short writes from California.