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Tipsheet

Colorado Lawmakers Inch Closer to Enshrining Abortion Access Into State Law

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The Colorado General Assembly will hold its first hearing on Wednesday on legislation guaranteeing unrestricted access to abortion in the state. 

Axios reported that the legislation, the “Reproductive Health Equity Act,” is a “direct response” to legislation passed in states, such as Texas and Florida, restricting abortion access. Texas’ abortion law, S.B. 8, took effect Sept. 1 and bans abortions after fetal heartbeat detection. This month, Florida lawmakers passed legislation banning abortions in the state after 15 weeks gestation, similar to a Mississippi law currently under review by the Supreme Court. 

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“The move is a first step toward asking Colorado voters to approve a constitutional protection [for abortion] on the 2024 ballot,” Axios reported. The bill's summary states that “every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or 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.”

In addition, the legislation would prohibit state and local public entities from interfering with “an individual's fundamental right to use or refuse contraception or to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion.”

Currently, Colorado is one a few states that permits legal abortion at all stages of pregnancy, though it is not explicitly protected by state law. If the Supreme Court’s decision in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which pertains to Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, overturns landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade, abortion access in Colorado would continue if protections surrounding abortion are enshrined in state law.

Axios noted that a leftist Colorado-based polling firm called The Rocky Mountaineer found that 67 percent of voters support “all women in Colorado [having] access to abortion care.” According to the poll findings, over 70 percent of “political swing” voters surveyed showed support for abortion access in the state. 

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Colorado is not the only state working to enshrine abortion rights into its constitution. Last month, I covered how Democratic lawmakers in Maryland stated they would support an amendment to the state’s constitution to protect “abortion rights” and expand acess to the procedure.

In Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s amicus brief filed ahead of the Dobbs oral arguments, which occurred Dec. 1, she asked the Supreme Court to overturn both Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

“Roe and Casey are egregiously wrong. The conclusion that abortion is a constitutional right has no basis in text, structure, history, or tradition,” Fitch wrote in the brief. “So the question becomes whether this Court should overrule those decisions. It should.”

“The Constitution does not protect a right to abortion. The Constitution’s text says nothing about abortion. Nothing in the Constitution’s structure implies a right to abortion or prohibits States from restricting it,” Fitch continued. “Casey repeats Roe’s flaws by failing to tie a right to abortion to anything in the Constitution. And abortion is fundamentally different from any right this Court has ever endorsed. No other right involves, as abortion does, ‘the purposeful termination of a potential life.’”

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