Editorial: Youth autopsy reports

The Pueblo Chieftain: Gov. John Hickenlooper stood for the public’s right to know last week when he vetoed a bill that would have prevented access to autopsy reports of minors.

The Colorado Coroners Association had lobbied for Senate Bill 223, arguing that to release the cause-of-death reports involving children would be painful to families and, in the case of youth suicides, might inspire copycats or other consequences.

In his veto message, Hickenlooper said: “At its core, the issue before us is the proper balance between protecting grieving families from continued trauma due to public disclosure and (the alternative of) permitting such information disclosure to prevent future tragedies.”

Most of the legislative debate focused on youth suicide when, in fact, SB 223 would have denied public access to autopsy reports involving any cause of death to a minor.

The Colorado Press Association and other media advocates strongly opposed the bill for weakening transparency under the state’s open records law.

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