Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, two Democratic lawmakers have said they are preparing to strengthen abortion protections in Colorado.
Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Greenwood Village, said they intend to file legislation to protect Colorado abortion care providers and anyone seeking medical abortion care in the state. The filing of the title — the first step toward creating a bill — took place Friday hours after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision.
“We’re ready to get the job done,” Gonzales said. “We’re not going to wait for anyone. We will use the power we have because we have a Democratic majority in Colorado, and we are beginning to draft legislation to continue to protect access for all Coloradoans.
With the annulment of Roe v. Wade, abortion regulation becomes a state-by-state issue, with trigger laws established to quickly ban all or most abortions in 22 states. In Colorado, policymakers enshrined abortion as a basic right under the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which Governor Jared Polis signed into law in April.
The new law is among the most permissive in the country. Passed in March following a record 23-hour debate, it affirmed in state law the right to choose an abortion or carry a pregnancy to term. Fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses have no independent rights under the law, and the law prohibits state and local public entities from denying or restricting a person’s right to use or deny contraception , or to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion.
Abortion rights advocates pushed the measure before a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion showing five Republican-appointed justices were set to overrule Roe was leaked to POLITICO, arguing that it would serve as a bulwark against any ruling by the Conservative court. Anti-abortion campaigners have said they plan to take legal action against the new law, arguing it is too broad and raises ‘serious questions’ about the conscience rights of doctors, nurses and first-timers stakeholders.
Gonzales said his bill would seek to expand those protections even further.
Although the research and drafting of the bill has just begun, Gonzales said she intends the bill to meet the needs that arise as other states ban abortion. This could potentially include protecting people from out of state who come to Colorado for abortions, expanding capacity so people can access abortions in a timely manner, securing business licenses for abortion providers or assistance in transferring out-of-state providers to Colorado.
“We have been proactive and now that the decision has been released reversing Roe v. Wade, it is now up to us to act again,” Gonzales said. “Colorado has been and will continue to be a haven for anyone seeking abortion care. The question is, how do we protect patients? How do we protect providers?”
It comes as Democratic dominance of the Colorado legislature hangs in the balance, with Republicans potentially positioned to take control of the state Senate in the November election.
All Republican lawmakers voted against the Reproductive Health Equity Act last session, and some have sponsored unsuccessful bills to abolish abortion in Colorado.
In response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, many Republican lawmakers celebrated the news and called on Colorado to ban abortion.
“In the last legislative session, the Liberal Democrat majority passed the most extreme pro-abortion law in the United States,” House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Loveland, said in a statement. . “In Colorado, we must work together to improve the lives of all Coloradans – those citizens who live and work in our communities now and those who are yet to be born.”
Some touted the court’s opinion, but were quick to point out that the decision did not change the status quo in Colorado.
“While today is a major victory for the pro-life movement,” said Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, “unfortunately, it doesn’t change Colorado’s abortions until a pregnancy occurs. eventually”.
That means the fate of Gonzales’ bill likely hinges on the results of the November election. Regardless of the election outcome, Gonzales vowed to continue fighting to protect access to abortion “for as long as it takes.”