Abortion rights bill passes Colorado Senate, headed for governor’s desk

Abortion law.
Abortion law.(Pexels/MGN)
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 3:06 PM MDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 1:21 PM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - A bill that would ensure the right to abortion under Colorado law is on its way to the governor’s desk after clearing its final hurdle Wednesday.

HB22-1279, or the “Reproductive Health Equity Act” passed the Senate in a 20-15 vote, split along party lines. Gov. Jared Polis has indicated he will sign it.

With the governor’s expected signature, Colorado will join 15 states and Washington D.C. in protecting a woman’s legal right to an abortion.

Legal abortion in Colorado predates Roe vs. Wade and once had backing from both political parties. In 1967, a Democratic lawmaker introduced a bill that would allow abortions if the woman’s physical or mental health was threatened, if the unborn child might have birth defects or in cases of rape or incest. The bill passed both chambers in a bipartisan vote and was signed into law that April by Republican then-Gov. John Love, making Colorado the first state in the country to loosen its abortion restrictions.

In the present day, abortion in Colorado is legal at any point in a pregnancy, but the state law does not guarantee that right. Sponsors of HB22-1279, or the “Reproductive Health Equity Act,” say the bill is needed in case the Supreme Court does overturn Roe.

“Right now, reproductive rights are under attack across the country, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is no Colorado law in place that would protect the right to obtain a safe, legal abortion, which is why this bill is so important,” said Sen. Julie Gonzales (D-Denver), one of the bill’s sponsors. “The Reproductive Health Equity Act will enshrine the right to abortion access in our state’s laws, ensuring that every Coloradan is guaranteed their fundamental right to reproductive freedom and can make their own decisions about their life and their future.”

Republicans have fought the bill at every level, including setting a modern record during the second hearing earlier in the month by stretching debate to a full day, per a report by the Denver Post. They’ve also proposed more than a dozen amendments to the bill, all of which failed.

Before the final House vote March 14, several Republican lawmakers gave speeches, calling the bill “barbaric” and asking God to have mercy on the state.

The bill prohibits state and local public entities from:

  • Denying, restricting, interfering with, or discriminating against an individual’s fundamental right to use or refuse contraception or to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion in the regulation or provision of benefits, services, information, or facilities; and
  • Depriving, through prosecution, punishment, or other means, an individual of the individual’s right to act or refrain from acting during the individual’s own pregnancy based on the potential, actual, or perceived impact on the pregnancy, the pregnancy’s outcomes, or on the pregnant individual’s health.

Click here for more on the bill.

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