The contours of the legislative battle over abortion regulation in Colorado began to take shape hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned two landmark rulings that allowed women, within a federal framework, to obtain legal abortion.

For one, abortion-rights proponents are considering legislation to further strengthen the state’s abortion law, which is among the most permissive in the nation. On the other hand, abortion advocates are gearing up to promote measures that “value the sanctity of life.”

Broadly speaking, there are three main options available to both sides of the abortion debate, including changing laws through the legislative process in the state Capitol and directly asking voters to pass laws.

A third option is litigation. Each tactic comes with its own set of challenges and benefits. Anti-abortion advocates, for example, are unlikely to succeed while Democrats control the Legislative Assembly and the governor’s office. Meanwhile, the chances of advancing an abortion rights agenda are slim to nil if Republicans take control of any branch of the Legislature.

What is palpable is the energy that permeates the political theater in Colorado after the conservative majority of the United States Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.

“As we celebrate, we must still recognize the work that needs to be done in Colorado,” the Colorado Catholic Conference said in a statement Friday that hinted at the contours of the legislative fight ahead. “Now that Roe and Casey are overthrown, the issue of pre-viability abortion will come back to the states, and Colorado’s new Reproductive Health Equity Act, which was signed into law by Governor Polis on May 4, 2022 , will ensure that Colorado continues to be extreme on abortion policy.”

Unsurprisingly, the Catholic bishops are taking aim at Colorado’s new abortion law, which affirms in state law the right to choose an abortion or carry a pregnancy to term and under which eggs, embryos and fetuses impregnated have no independent rights. It also prohibits state and local public entities from denying or restricting a person’s right to use or deny contraception, or to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion.

The bishops said the law guarantees that Colorado “will remain an abortion state until birth.”

“And it goes beyond Roe’s statement that unborn children at all stages of development have ‘no individual and derivative rights’ in Colorado,” the Bishops said. “Pro-abortion activists also plan to push a ballot initiative in 2024 to allow Colorado taxpayer funds to be used for abortion.”

Democrats Consider Legislation to Strengthen Abortion Protections in Colorado

Efforts to roll back the Reproductive Health Equity Act have already begun, the Bishops said.

In response to the law, they said, 21 nonprofits, including the Catholic Conference of Colorado and the diocesan offices of Respect Life, banded together to form the Pro-Life Colorado Coalition to “continue to fight RHEA, prepare for the electoral battle of 2024 and promote legislation that values ​​the sanctity of life”.

Jeff Hunt, director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University and one of the most visible voices in the abortion debate, earlier told Colorado Politics that “the pro-life community is committed to ending to abortion in Colorado”.

He added that the conversations revolved around running a ballot measure in 2024 “similar to Proposition 115,” which asked voters two years ago to ban abortion after 22 weeks’ gestation, except when it is necessary to save the life of the mother.

Permissive abortion law now rules Colorado after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe

Abortion rights activists, meanwhile, are considering a move to enshrine abortion rights in the Colorado Constitution.

Additionally, Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Greenwood Village, said they intend to introduce legislation to protect Colorado abortion care providers and anyone who seeks abortion care in the state.

“We’re ready to get the job done,” Gonzales said. “We’re not going to wait for anyone. We will use the power we have because we have a Democratic majority in Colorado, and we are beginning to draft legislation to continue to protect access for all Coloradoans.

Five Takeaways: What the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Rejecting Roe Means for Colorado


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