Governor Jared Polis, signed a bill into law creating a “fundamental right” to abortion, contraception, and other forms of “reproductive health-care rights.” The law creates rights for “a pregnant individual,” explicitly denying rights for the unborn. The bill addresses the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which is expected to replace the abortion precedent in Roe v. Wade (1973). Polis signed H.B. 22-1279, the “Reproductive Health Equity Act,” which the Polis says “codifies a person’s fundamental right to make reproductive health-care decisions free from government interference.”
Colorado Backs 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 during his statement Monday. The law prohibits state and local public entities from denying, restricting, interfering with, or discriminating against a person’s right to use or refuse contraception or to continue a pregnancy or to have an abortion. It also bars public entities from restricting abortion due to the individual’s “potential, actual, or perceived impact on the pregnancy, the pregnancy’s outcomes, or the pregnant individual’s health.”Jeff Hunt, president of the Colorado think-tank the Centennial Institute, lamented Polis’ signing of the bill. “This will go down as one of the worst days in Colorado history,” he wrote on Twitter. “Pro-abortionists at the Colorado capitol sealed the fate of countless lives.”
What Does The Law Says
The law itself states that “Access to abortion and reproductive health care is currently under attack across the nation. Impending federal court cases, including Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,… jeopardize access to legal abortion care for tens of millions of people, particularly those living in most Southern and Midwestern states.”
“Every individual has a fundamental right to make decisions about the individual’s reproductive health care, including the fundamental right to use or refuse contraception,” the law states. “A pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion and to make decisions about how to exercise that right. A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of this state,” the law adds.
Now that the state allows abortions it will be up to conservative Colorado counties or municipalities to try to pass local measures banning or significantly limiting access to abortion procedures or medication in their county. House Bill 1279 changes only state statute, not the state constitution, so Republicans could still introduce bills and ballot measures seeking to limit abortion access. Only a constitutional amendment, which would require approval by 55% of voters, could more permanently settle the question. Do you believe Colorado counties should be doing more to fight against the new abortion law?
Written by: Erinn Malloy