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Bill that aims to protect parents with disabilities passes through Colorado house

Supporters say a proposed law will protect the rights of parents with disabilities. Opponents worry it will tie the hands of judges. A Lakewood mother says under current law, her rights to be the best parent she could be were ignored.

Making dinner is one of the many things Chrissy Henderson has learned to adapt since her diagnosis with Retinitis Pigmentosa 10 years ago.

"I see kind of a tunnel like a toilet paper roll," the 38-year-old said.

She was declared legally blind when her kids were 2 and 3 years old.

“It’s one of the most terrifying things to wonder how you’re going to parent, and how you’re going to make it work," Henderson said. "You find ways to do it, and then it gets taken."

She says the court system took away how she'd learn to adapt during a custody battle with her ex-husband last year.

Henderson says she had to move to a place with far less public transportation in order to keep shared custody.

“Decisions are being made that completely disregard your disability, so your ability to parent is made a lot more difficult," she said.

That's why Henderson is fighting for HB-1104, Family Preservation For Parents With Disability, to pass. The bill would not allow the court system to use a disability as basis for denial of custody or adoption.

And in Henderson's case, supportive services for parents with a disability would be considered.

Although the bill has passed in the house, Rep. Cole Wist (R-Arapahoe) was one lawmaker who voted against it because he says it would tie the hands of the court.

"When you say this cannot be the basis for denial, you’re telling them what they can and can’t consider," Wist said over the phone on Sunday to 9NEWS.

Wist says the law isn't needed because the Americans with Disabilities Act should already protect parents.

Henderson disagreed.

“It provides absolutely no protections during a custody battle," Henderson said. "And I found when I looked to see if there were protections in place that I could use to help me, there weren't any.”

The bill now goes onto the senate where it has support from both sides of the aisle.

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