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Child autopsy bill vetoed by Hickenlooper



On June 1, Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed a bill that would have closed public access to autopsy reports on minors.

Sponsored by Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, and Sen. Matt Gray, D-Broomfield, the bill drew support from county coroners statewide, including El Paso County Coroner Robert Bux, and law enforcement.

In vetoing the bill, Hickenlooper said that "sunshine on uncomfortable and painful topics such as youth deaths can lead to more positive outcomes for other youths," according to the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, which opposed the bill along with other news organizations, including the Independent.

A 2012 investigation by The Denver Post and 9NEWS, "Failed to Death," led to changes in the child protective system after reporters used autopsy reports to reveal that 72 of 175 Colorado children who died of child abuse in the previous five years were known to case workers.

"Transparency can lead to enhanced government protections, greater public and private resources, and heightened public understanding and demand for change," the governor said in his veto letter. He noted that while the bill stemmed from a "laudable goal" of protecting families from the pain of public knowledge of a child's death, he was "particularly concerned by the bill's broad language limiting disclosure of not only youth suicides, but any death of a minor."

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