Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

Colorado Democrats plan bill to enshrine abortion rights in state law

Democratic state lawmakers want to ensure abortion access remains legal in Colorado even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

On the day the Supreme Court heard arguments over a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, a group of state legislators signed a proclamation to uphold Coloradans’ rights to abortion. They plan to introduce a bill next year codifying abortion rights into state law.

“Coloradans have affirmed over and over again that politics has no place in private medical decisions that belong between a pregnant person, their family and their provider,” Rep. Meg Froelich, of Englewood, said in a news release. “Four times we have rejected political attempts to ban abortion on the ballot. It’s time to stop playing defense and move Colorado beyond the bans.”

The U.S. Supreme Court, which has a six-member conservative majority, could decide to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe decision that preserved the right for abortions or just rule on whether to uphold the Mississippi law.

While Colorado has no state laws that restrict access to abortion, it also doesn’t have laws protecting that access, said Laura Chapin, spokesperson for Colorado abortion rights and advocacy group Cobalt.

Colorado was the first state to liberalize abortion in 1967. Previously, advocates resisted passing legislation to affirm the right to abortion in the state, worrying doing so could become an organizing tool for those on the right. But now they say Colorado must act.

“We’re looking at a proactive bill to protect abortion access here in Colorado because, clearly, the courts are not going to protect us anymore,” Chapin said in an interview.

With a Democratic-controlled state legislature and governor’s office, bills to restrict or ban abortion in Colorado — such as the “Protect Life at Human Conception” bill — have not been able to move forward.

Colorado voters consistently have rejected attempts at restricting abortion, most recently last year when a measure to ban later-term abortions was defeated. This year, lawmakers passed a law that would expand abortion access for women who are using public funds for medically-necessary procedures.

“Voters should know this legislation would affirmatively protect access to a full range of reproductive health care including abortion, and it means the state would be sure that access is available and there is nothing that infringes that access or limits availability of information or access to care and services,” Cobalt president Karen Middleton.

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