What happens to abortion in Colorado if Roe’s overturned?

Claire Cleveland

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My body, my choice sign.Duané Viljoen / Pexels

By Claire Cleveland / NewsBreak

(Denver, CO.) A leaked draft opinion from the Supreme Court indicates Roe v. Wade is likely to be overturned next month. The loss of Roe will impact millions of Americans, but in Colorado, abortion rights and access are here to stay.

Last month, Gov. Jared Polis signed HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, into law. The legislation ensures the right to abortions and reproductive care before and after pregnancy and prevents a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus from having rights under Colorado state law. The legislation goes a step further to prevent local and state governments from interfering with that care.

Women in Colorado will still be able to access abortion care, but they may find that appointments are harder to get. In the five states that surround Colorado — Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska and Oklahoma — trigger laws are in place that will immediately ban abortion at any point in pregnancy. Women in those states will have to travel to access care.

Abortion advocates, including those who helped pass the RHEA legislation, said they’ve been preparing for this moment.

“This is exactly what we feared and why it was so important for Colorado to protect the fundamental right to abortion in Colorado law with the Reproductive Health Equity Act,” said Karen Middleton, Cobalt president, in a statement.

Cobalt is a non-profit organization dedicated to abortion access and reproductive rights. The organization has an abortion fund that helps women in Colorado and from out of state to access care including travel, food, lodging funds and help with paying for the procedure itself.

“We have warned legislators and the public alike that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v Wade, and this further confirms it. Regardless of what the Supreme Court ultimately decides with a final decision, because of RHEA Coloradans have the right to abortion access affirmed in our state law. This makes the urgent need to put the right to abortion in our Constitution in 2024 even more of a priority, and to hold accountable those who didn’t support abortion access with RHEA in 2022.”

Cobalt accepts donations and is anticipating an increase in requests from out of state patients. The women who are likely to be most impacted from other states are those who are low-income, already have children or who have other barriers to traveling to receive abortion care.

​​“With this potential decision, this court is yet again showing it has no problem harming pregnant people across the country, particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, undocumented people, and those having difficulty making ends meet,” said Dusti Gurule, president and CEO of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. “At the core of our movement for Reproductive Justice is community power. And our historic victory to protect our right to abortion – in the face of a hostile Supreme Court – is just the beginning.”

Abortion opponents also anticipate the Supreme Court decision. When Colorado passed RHEA, Guiliana Day, an anti-abortion advocate said she was sad for Colorado.

“We're gonna be known mainly as the capital of abortion on demand instead of the beautiful mountains,” Day said.

“Some of the states are going to abolish or put more restrictions on abortion and states like ours are gonna go totally the opposite side and make it unrestricted abortions. We are gonna see more women, especially, suffering as a consequence of that.”

The leaked opinion is not official, and according to reporting from the New York Times, draft opinions often change before they’re released. The official decision is expected in late June or early July.

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Claire Cleveland is a Denver-based freelance writer with a background in health and science reporting. She's covered the pandemic extensively and local news in Colorado. Previously, Claire was a reporter and producer for Colorado Public Radio.

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