Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that he has signed an executive order to protect the data of those seeking abortions in Colorado.

The order, D 2022 032, directs state agencies to withhold data, including patient medical records and related billing information, from states that can impose criminal or civil penalties on those who request or perform abortions.

“We take the necessary steps to protect and defend individual liberty and protect the privacy of Coloradans. This important step will ensure that Colorado’s thriving economy and workforce are not adversely affected due to personal health decisions that are wrongfully criminalized in other states,” Polis said in a statement.

Polis’ order states that he “will exercise the fullest extent of my discretion to deny requests for the arrest, surrender or extradition of any person charged with a criminal violation of any law of another state. where the alleged violation involves the provision of, assisting in, obtaining or receiving reproductive health care, unless the acts giving rise to the prosecution of the crime charged also constitute a criminal offense under the Colorado law.

Abortion rights activists gather in downtown Colorado Springs to protest the overthrow of Roe against Wade

The executive order would also provide protection from civil or criminal judgments against professional licenses for those who provide or assist in providing reproductive health care to patients who travel from other states.

Polis’ decision echoes efforts by governors of other states where abortion is still legal.

In North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed an executive order to protect abortion providers and patients from extradition to states that have banned the practice. Abortions are legal in North Carolina until fetal viability or in certain medical emergencies, making the state an outlier in the Southeast.

“This order will help protect North Carolina doctors and nurses and their patients from cruel, right-wing criminal laws passed by other states,” Cooper said in announcing the order.

The governors of Rhode Island and Maine signed executive orders Tuesday night saying they will not cooperate with other states’ investigations of people seeking abortions or health care providers performing them.

As the abortion battle shifts to the states, hard work lies ahead, according to both sides of the debate

Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee said women should be left with their own health care decisions, and Democratic Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said Rhode Island must do whatever it takes. its power to protect access to reproductive health care as “other states attack the fundamental right to choose.”

Maine Democratic Governor Janet Mills said she would “oppose any effort to undermine, roll back, or outright eliminate the right to safe and legal abortion in Maine.”

Polis’ action was immediately applauded by abortion-rights supporters, including Democratic state lawmakers who sponsored the Reproductive Health Equity Act in the 2022 session. the right to abortion without exception.

“I sponsored the Reproductive Health Equity Act to codify reproductive rights into Colorado law because the government should never interfere in a patient’s private medical decision,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D -Pueblo, in a statement. “Governor Polis’ action today will protect patients and providers from steps taken by Republican state legislatures to criminalize abortion, force rape victims and children into childbirth, and prosecute patients who travel outside their home states. State to Access an Abortion As more people come to our state to get the care they need, Colorado is taking a stand to protect the rights of patients and their private medical information.

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Rep. Kyle Mullica, D-Thornton, an ER nurse, added that “we now live in a terrifying reality where Colorado abortion patients and the providers who care for them could be arrested in states where Republican legislatures have Bans Abortion The House Health and Insurance Committee where earlier this year all Republican lawmakers on the committee voted to ban abortion without exception and force rape victims and children into childbirth.

“I am proud that our governor is taking additional action today to protect provider licensing and patient privacy, and I will continue to fight Republican lawmakers’ bills to ban abortion in Colorado. “

Christina Soliz, policy director of COLOR, the Colorado Organization for Latin Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, applauded Polis’ order, saying it “means Colorado will not cooperate with any attempt to criminalize a protected right. by law in our state. We are delivering on our promise to go beyond the Reproductive Health Equity Act and expand access and protections for everyone, no matter who you are and where you live. ‘where you come from.

The specific fears of Democratic officials are rooted in a Texas law passed last year to ban abortions after fetal heart activity is detected. The law allows anyone other than a government official or employee to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” obtaining one.

The United States Supreme Court has so far refused to hear challenges to the Texas law.

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Bernadette Meyler, a professor at Stanford Law School, said it’s unclear whether judgments against out-of-state abortion providers will hold up in court, especially if they don’t advertise their services. services in prohibited states.

But she also said it’s not clear that liberal states have a solid legal basis to protect their residents from any out-of-state litigation.

“Probably they assume that some of the laws they pass won’t be enforced or maybe won’t be enforced, and they try to find as many as they can in order to resist the effects of the Dobbs decision. ”

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