Denver, CO

Denver needs to prepare for out-of-state abortion seekers

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) A resident warned the Denver City Council Monday that the area soon will be inundated with people seeking abortions. And the city needs to prepare.

Jennifer Dillon noted many states that border Colorado, including Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming, will outlaw abortions now that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, those states' abortion bans won't go into effect immediately but could become law quickly.

"Seven states have a type of trigger ban that would go into effect after the state's attorney general, governor or other specified official certifies that the central holding of Roe has been overturned in whole or in part," the institute reports in a blog post.

"This certification process could be very quick, taking only hours or a couple of days."

With so many coming to Denver from out of state for abortions, Dillon said fewer appointments would be available for people who live here.

No time to rest

Dillon told the council, "Now is not a time to rest on our laurels and get comfortable." She said neither Colorado nor Denver is "ready as a state or a community for what is coming at us in the wake of this decision, but we can take steps now to get ready."

Dillon said people must act quickly "to shore up abortion rights and abortion access on the local level and face the challenges of the new reality we all will be living under."

Colorado lawmakers anticipated the Rowe v. Wade decision and earlier this year, Gov. Jared Polis signed HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, into law.

The law:

· Ensures the right to give birth or seek an abortion.

· Guarantees the right to access contraception.

· Prevents a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus from having rights under Colorado state law.

· Stops local and state governments from interfering with reproductive care.

For example, Dillon said officials should offer safe and timely abortions to pregnant teenage girls incarcerated in Denver.

Assessing needs

Denver should assess how many additional abortion providers are needed to meet demand. She said the city also should develop ways to protect people who come to Colorado for abortion from criminal prosecution in their states.

"Abortion may be legal in Colorado, but there are many for which it is functionally out of reach, and they must not be left behind," Dillon said. "Local government must step in to fill the gap."

Council president ready to fight

Later in the meeting, City Council President Stacie Gilmore said she was up for the fight. "I am 52 years old. I cannot believe – well, I can believe it – I won't stand for it, and I won't rest ... My two daughters actually have less rights than their grandmothers or their mother, and we're not going to stand for it."

Gilmore announced early in the meeting to make it clear abortions are still legal in Denver and Colorado.

"We want to make sure we are fully supporting women and pregnant people throughout our city and state," she said. "You have my utmost commitment to continue to work on this and make sure that we have your back."

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career at local newspapers. Today, I report on Denver and Aurora city halls for NewsBreak. Prior to joining NewsBreak, I worked several years as a health reporter and branded content writer in the healthcare space. I also worked many years as a news editor and city editor. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver.

Denver, CO
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