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Colorado likely to see no impact if Roe v. Wade is overturned

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Posted at 8:02 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 08:01:35-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado lawmakers are paying close attention to the Supreme Court hearing concerning a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks and challenges the Roe v. Wade decision.

UCCS Political Science Professor Joshua Dunn says that if the court reverses the Roe v. Wade decision that it wouldn't have a huge impact on policy in Colorado. The state is one of seven that does not limit how late in pregnancy an abortion can be performed.

"There are certain states where if Roe v. Wade were overturned there would be efforts to completely eliminate access to abortion. Mississippi would be one, and some of the conservative states, particularly in the south you could see it. There might be some in the North where you have large Catholic populations. The Catholic Church has long been an opponent of Roe v. Wade and abortion," said Dunn.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Dunn says any efforts to try to restrict abortion rights in the state would likely come through the ballot initiative process.

"I don't think you would see much change coming from the state legislature or governor's office so the pro-life activists would have to use the initiative process and that's what opponents of abortion have tried to do recently," said Dunn.

41 bills and 4 ballot initiatives have been introduced to limit access to abortions, but they've all failed.

"The ballot initiatives wouldn't have had direct legal effect, they would have almost been symbolic because you would have needed it changed by the Supreme Court," said Dunn. "Traditionally in Colorado, it's been kind of social liberalism throughout the state. Sometimes people describe Colorado as socially liberal but may be socially moderate to conservative with things like limitations on tax increases and those things. I wouldn't say that voters in Colorado are socially liberal and economically conservative, I think there is a controlling middle in the state."

Dunn says there would be a lot more deliberation over abortion among state lawmakers if the decision was reversed.

"State legislatures would have more authority to set policy. If state legislatures have more authority to set policy then that means the democratic process is going to be deciding the policy so people will have much more of an opportunity to influence policy through the democratic process than they do to try to get the Supreme Court to agree with them," said Dunn.

"If the Supreme Court decides that Roe will fall, Colorado will remain a state where abortion is accessible, but it may not have the legal protections that some states have," said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo.

Esgar says the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would have a ripple effect, and its important impact is discussed.

"We need to look at what happens across the entire United States because if something is illegal in one state or access lacks in another state, those folks will go to another state to get the services that they need," said Esgar.

The Governor's Office released the following statement.

"Colorado is watching the Mississippi case closely and hopes the Supreme Court strikes down Mississippi's restrictive law. "

Conor Cahill, Press Secretary

If it is not struck down, Dunn says it would only be the beginning.

"People will still find cases to try and get the Supreme Court to carve away at Roe v.Casey," said Dunn.

A decision in the case won’t come immediately. It’s expected by late June, a few months before next year’s midterm elections.