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Division over Pueblo abortion clinic as Colorado sees spike in patients since overturn of Roe v. Wade

Posted at 11:21 AM, Nov 17, 2022

PUEBLO — Colorado, now a safe haven for women seeking abortion services in the United States, has seen the rise in patients it anticipated amid the overturning of Roe V Wade.

According to a study by the Society of Family Planning, Colorado is among the top three states for an increase in abortion services between the months of April and August:

  1. North Carolina - 37%
  2. Kansas - 36%
  3. Colorado - 33%

Now, a new abortion clinic is being built in Pueblo. Currently, the city does not have an abortion clinic.

"I was actually not surprised," said Quin Friberg, a Pastor at Family Worship Center in Pueblo, recounting his reaction to the news that the clinic was coming.

Friberg continued, "Back when Roe V Wade was overturned, I told multiple people, 'We'll have a facility try to open in the next few months."

When the clinic opens, Pueblo will become one of the most easily-accessed cities in Colorado for anyone in some states, like Texas, seeking an abortion.

Under the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which Governor Jared Polis signed into law in April, abortion is legal at all stages in the state of Colorado.

Still, Friberg and others in Pueblo are trying to fight the clinic from coming to their community.

On top of his opinion that abortion is morally wrong, Friberg believes that "it's a very divisive issue" and does not think "Pueblo needs more divisive issues surrounding it right now."

In a heated Pueblo City Council meeting on Monday, multiple people spoke during public comment urging councilmembers to do something to prevent the clinic from opening.

Councilwoman Regina Maestri introduced a copy of an ordinance passed in Hobbs, New Mexico and asked Pueblo's legal counsel to draft one similar.

The ordinance reads in part:

"WHEREAS, the City of Hobbs City Commission calls upon the United States Attorneys for the District of New Mexico, both present and future to investigate and prosecute abortion providers and abortion-pill distribution networks..."
City of Hobbs Ordinance No. 1147

The document turns Hobbs into a sanctuary city, outlawing any abortions from happening within city limits.

However, lawmakers say an ordinance like this will not be upheld in Colorado.

"Any way that you try to stop access to abortion here in Colorado is going to be something that goes against our laws," said State Representative Daneya Esgar, who was the prime sponsor of the Reproductive Health Equity Act and represents Pueblo.

Esgar says the bill was written intentionally with the expectation that certain municipalities might try to find ways around it to restrict abortion access.

"Time and time again, voters in Colorado have expressed their opinions on this matter and support a woman's right to abortion... I think this is just another way to show that they're not really listening to the will of the people," said Esgar, referring to ballot initiatives like Proposition 115 in 2020.

The ballot measure would have banned abortion in Colorado 22 weeks after conception. It failed by 566,692 votes.

Members of a new group, Pueblo Pro-Choice, have been showing up to the clinic frequently in defense of its opening.

"It actually makes me feel good," said Jillian Peterson about her reaction to the clinic.

Peterson says she has a cousin in Texas and she worries about their access to abortion but finds comfort in knowing this clinic in Pueblo will be available if they ever need it.

"She just got her first menstrual cycle, so to think that anything could happen to her at this point, and them being in a state that does not allow it, it's kind of scary," said Peterson.

The Pueblo Pro-Choice group has organized several protests since Roe V Wade was overturned. Peterson says despite pushback from a pro-life movement in Pueblo, her group will continue fighting in favor of the clinic.

"You can't stop fighting for women's rights at this point. They tried to tear it down, we're just going to build it back up."

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