DENVER | Colorado is among several states attempting to secure the right to abortion as the future of Roe v. Wade hangs in the air after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a conflicting Texas ban on abortion as early as six weeks.
The Colorado bill introduced Thursday would codify reproductive autonomy in state law, including decisions about contraception and pregnancy. The measure would also establish that a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have rights under state law.
“In a world in which Roe v. Wade falls, we want to make it clear that regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court that access to abortion care in Colorado is protected,” said Democratic state Sen. Julie Gonzales, adding that the Colorado bill is a direct response to the new Texas law and the Supreme Court’s hearing of a Mississippi case that would overrule Roe and prevent states from banning abortion before viability, which is around 24 weeks of pregnancy when a fetus can survive outside the womb.
The new Texas law bans abortion once cardiac activity is detected — typically around six weeks into a pregnancy. There are no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
If the measure passes the Legislature, House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar said there would also need to be a constitutional ballot initiative to secure abortion access in the state constitution if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court.
Several southern states have also targeted abortion pills, passing measures restricting access after a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency ended a federal rule in December requiring pregnant people to pick up abortion-inducing medication in person and instead allow for prescriptions through an online consultation and the pills by mail.
A handful of Colorado Republican abortion-limiting bills introduced this legislative session failed in the Democratic-controlled legislature. Some of the measures included banning abortions, allowing legal action against abortion patients and providers and establishing a registry of abortion-receiving patients.
Gonzales called the measure “affirmative and proactive” by safeguarding the state’s abortion access and reproductive health care.
Attempts to ban abortion in the state via ballot measures have been defeated several times by Colorado voters since 2008.
“We know that it is time now with what we’re seeing across the country in other state legislatures and what were seeing could possibly happen with the Supreme Court later this year — we want to simply make sure that this fundamental right to health care is in our statutes,” Esgar said.
Nieberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.