Journal-Advocate (Sterling): We can think of nothing worse for any parent than coping with the death of a child, whether from illness, accident or violence. Truly, such a situation is a nightmare that deserves kindness and sympathy.
So we understand why the Colorado Legislature might have thrown its support behind Senate Bill 18-223 this session. The bill would have exempted autopsy reports of minors in Colorado from open records laws in what we feel was a misguided attempt to protect people’s privacy during difficult times.
Dealing with any death is an emotional process, one that can bring out the best or worse in us, and a process that is different for every individual who goes through it.
But autopsy reports are factual documents, not emotional ones. Over the past several years, autopsy reports have become one of the only records available to media organizations and the public to be able to look into both the instances of deaths of individual children and more importantly, trends about multiple deaths.
For an autopsy to be conducted, there must be an extraordinary event requiring government investigation of the death. Without access to these files, several important stories that have led to improvements in how government services are provided to children would not have been able to have been investigated.
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