NewsCovering Colorado


Pueblo City Council tables vote on anti-abortion ordinance

Anti-abortion measure
Posted at 12:50 AM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 14:35:42-05

PUEBLO — Pueblo City Council voted to table a proposed ordinance outlawing abortion within city limits during Monday night's regular council meeting.

The 4-3 decision means the ordinance has been indefinitely pulled from city council agendas and the public was not able to provide comment on Monday. The ordinance would make it illegal for anyone to deliver or receive abortion pills or abortion-related materials within Pueblo.

The vote was unexpected as many people were waiting for their turn to give public comment. The issue brought over 100 people to city hall hours before the meeting started to get a spot inside.

Pueblo City Council President Heather Graham made the first motion to table the ordinance after saying the issue is not the city council's decision to make.

“What is not our job is to govern abortion paraphernalia because that is all this ordinance intends to do," Graham said. “I suggest if you want to ban abortion, you take it up with the state legislators, or quite frankly, you move out of Colorado because this city council is not the arena to be bringing this forward.”

Legal experts who helped write the ordinance and the city attorney gave conflicting opinions about the legality of the anti-abortion ordinance.

Daniel Kogovsek, Pueblo's city attorney, said the ordinance would not hold up against the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), the state's law already in place reaffirming the right to abortion in Colorado.

The legal counsel for the ordinance, including Jonathon Mitchell, the former solicitor general for Texas, and Josh Craddock, an attorney in Colorado, argued the 1873 federal law written in the ordinance banning the shipping and receiving of abortion-related paraphernalia would supersede any state law.

“There’s no conflict between this proposed ordinance and Colorado state law because the ordinance is simply requiring compliance with supreme federal law and would trump any kind of provision that might appear in the Colorado Reproductive Health Equity Act," said Mitchell.

Colorado's House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, a co-sponsor of RHEA said the law was drafted to withstand challenges from cities.

"We knew when we were drafting the bill that there was going to be counties or cities that would try to challenge it. I didn't think it would be Pueblo for the reasons I stated before that Pueblo County voters have repeatedly stood up for reproductive health measures," said Esgar.

In 2020, Colorado voters rejected Proposition 115 by 59%, which would have banned abortions 22 weeks after conception. Pueblo County voters were in the majority, with around 52% of voters rejecting the proposition.

After Monday's council meeting, a councilor would need to reintroduce the anti-abortion ordinance for it to be put on the agenda and to re start discussion.

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