NewsCovering Colorado


Can states prosecute women who cross state borders for an abortion?

Posted at 8:41 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 22:41:45-04

After the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, there's been a large gray area on what comes next for individual states.

On Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order that will protect women who come to Colorado from other states for an abortion. The order says the state will not assist with any criminal investigation into abortion from another state.

Currently, there is no law on the books in any other state that would allow them to actively prosecute women who seek an abortion in a state where it's legal. However, some states, like Missouri and Texas, are pushing for it.

Former Pueblo District Court Judge Dennis Maes said it's going to be an interesting legal battle for states wanting to prosecute over their borders.

"I would be rather surprised to see one state trying to push the will of their state on another state. I just don't see how that's going to get very far," he said. "I think it would be totally improper for one state to say because we believe something's a crime, you need to believe it as well."

Maes said if states take up a legal battle over the issue, the decision will be in the hands of the federal court. He also said one case regarding cross-state abortion is unlikely to set a precedent for others in the future.

"They would certainly be individual because they'd have their own specific set of facts and everything," he said.

Cobalt Abortion Fund in Denver is an organization that provides financial assistance to women coming to Colorado for an abortion. The organization could be at the center of a legal battle if a state comes forward with a case. However, Cobalt says under the new protections signed by Gov. Polis, they are not worried.

"We will absolutely not be scaling back any of our work. Regardless of any attempts to ban interstate travel. We will always continue to provide support for folks who want to come to Colorado for abortion care," said Jaki Lawrence, communications director for Cobalt.

One thing for certain, according to Maes, is that Colorado has spoken clearly about their stance on protecting the rights of women traveling for an abortion.

"They're not going to interfere with abortion rights, and therefore, not going to cooperate in any way, shape, or form with a state that might want to prosecute someone that's in the state of Colorado, which I think is well within his [Gov. Polis] authority to do so," he said.

Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.