DENVER — Governor Polis signed a bill into law Monday that increases protections for abortion in the State of Colorado.
Polis says the bill "codifies a person's right to make reproductive healthcare decisions free from government interference, and that the "very serious decision to start or end a pregnancy with medical assistance remains between a person, their doctor, and their faith."
The bill was crafted and brought into law with an eye on the new conservative makeup of the US Supreme Court. Democrats and pro-choice advocates are concerned that the judges could overrule the landmark Roe v. Wade case, which would dramatically change access to abortion care for millions of Americans across the country.
Representative Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), a sponsor of the bill, also pointed out initiatives here in Colorado that spurred the creation of the bill.
There have been 2 ballot questions in the past 2 decades on the legality of abortion in the state, Colorado Amendment 48 in 2009 and Colorado Proposition 115 in 2020. Both were rejected by Colorado voters.
The bill signed into law today, House Bill 22-1279, goes in the other direction of those initiatives.
Senator Julie Gonzales, the Senate sponsor, said the bill was about freedom and power, "the freedom to decide when, whether, and how to become a parent. The power to make your own decision about your own body and your own health without having to ask your local politician."
The bill says that all individuals have "fundamental rights" to make decisions about reproductive healthcare, the decision to use contraception, to have an abortion, and that "a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state."
The bill further prevents public entities from "denying, restricting, interfering with, or discriminating against an individual's fundamental right to use or refuse contraception or to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion in the regulation or provision of benefits, services, information, or facilities," and would prohibit local public entities from depriving reproductive rights through "prosecution, punishment, or other means."
As it stands now, the bill would change little when it comes to access to abortion and reproductive care in Colorado, outside of codifying into state law the protections already in place. However, if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, it would prevent counties and municipalities from limiting access to abortion and reproductive health.
The bill had a heated path through the legislature, with nearly 36 hours of debate in both chambers and a passage through the Senate on a party line vote.
Republicans disagreed with the bill, and the Colorado GOP Chairwoman released a statement after the bill passed in the Senate.
“This is a dark day for the Colorado Democrat Party and any individual who respects the sanctity of life. If Jared Polis decides to sign this extreme abortion bill, he will put Colorado’s abortion laws on par with China and North Korea. The Democrats have chosen to spend weeks of this session pushing a barbaric abortion bill, instead of fighting for issues that would help Colorado families. Republicans know every child deserves to be protected in love and in law. We will never stop standing up for life.”
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