Colorado Governor Signs Bill Protecting Abortion Rights

On April 4, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed House Bill 1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which ensures individuals in Colorado the “fundamental rights” to make decisions about their own reproductive health care, including decisions of using or refusing contraception, continuing a pregnancy to birth or having an abortion. 

“In the State of Colorado, the serious decision to start or end a pregnancy with medical assistance will remain between a person, their doctor and their faith,” Polis said in a statement. “…regardless of what happens federally, in Colorado these vital and oftentimes difficult decisions will continue to be made by Coloradans alone, free from government interference.”

READ: Colorado Abortion Access is Facing Challenges in the Capitol

House Bill 1279 prevents and prohibits public entities, counties and municipalities from “denying, restricting, interfering with or discriminating against an individual” for their rights involving contraception and abortion. It also prohibits depriving individuals’ reproductive rights “through prosecution, punishment or other means,” and declares that “a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

HB22-1279 does not change anything regarding abortion or reproductive care in Colorado as it now is. The purpose of the bill is to maintain the status quo of women’s reproductive rights in the state of Colorado and preemptively protect those rights in written law, in the case that Roe v. Wade is overturned.

The bill, primarily sponsored by Rep. Meg Froelich, Rep. Daneya Esgar and Sen. Julie Gonzales, was debated for 36 hours in both chambers and passed through the Senate on a party-line vote. 

The U.S. remains as torn in opinion as ever over the issue of women’s reproductive rights and pro-life versus pro-choice arguments. Except now, those personal opinions, beliefs and arguments are being taken back into debate for new state legislations — 49 years after first constituting pregnant women the liberty to choose whether an abortion was the right decision for them, safely, legally and without excessive government restriction.

In recent months, there has been a slew of laws introduced in state legislatures to ban or restrict abortion — several have been passed in one chamber, three signed into law or overridden by veto and two currently in effect: Kentucky’s 15-week ban and Wyoming’s trigger ban.

With the current conservative-leaning makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court and a new major court case — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health OrganizationRoe v. Wade and women’s reproductive health rights are becoming increasingly threatened. 

Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will rule on the constitutionality of a pre-viability abortion ban for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The Center for Reproductive Rights states that the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Waderecognized that the decision whether to continue a pregnancy or have an abortion, which impacts a person’s body, health, family and future, belongs to the individual, not the government,” and that “the state of Mississippi has asked the Court not only to uphold its abortion ban, but to overrule Roe and find there is no constitutional right to abortion.”

Experts say it appears Colorado will be even more needed by women in surrounding states as the right to abortion continues to hang in the balance.