By Eric Heinz
The landmark decision June 24 by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned the nearly 50-year-old case Roe v. Wade has had immediate effects on pro-choice advocates and women’s clinics around the nation.
State legislators in the spring passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, sponsored by Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-34, which codified the right for women to receive an abortion procedure or pill. The bill prohibits public entities from discriminating against anyone seeking an abortion or punishing those who do.
“This Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States, but Colorado has been working tirelessly to prepare for this very moment,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said she and State Rep. Meg Froelich, D-3, introduced a bill to protect Colorado abortion care providers and anyone who seeks abortion care.
“State legislators have a crucial role to play in defending abortion access, and I promise to continue the fight for as long as it takes,” Gonzales said.
Danielle Glover, the chair of the political board for the Colorado abortion advocacy group Cobalt and a Highland resident, said her organization was prepared for the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“This has not been surprising for organizations like Cobalt or others that have been doing this work,” Glover said. “We’ve been expecting this and we’ve been planning for it.”
Republicans in Colorado praised the Supreme Court’s decision while lamenting the state’s new law granting access to abortion. State House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, R-Larimer, issued a statement in response to the Democrats’ Reproductive Health Equity Act after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“Striking down Roe now pushes abortion rights and limitations back to the states with local voters deciding their own individual rules based on that state’s values and judgment,” McKean said. “During the last legislative session, the liberal Democrat majority passed the most extreme pro-abortion law in the United States.”
He continued, “This, I believe, was a mistake to ignore the many concerned voices who care deeply about both the rights of Colorado mothers and the unborn and quickly pass into law such an extreme law, which allows abortion unfettered in our state, including making abortion ‘a fundamental right’ while at the same time removes all rights of the unborn.”
Cobalt provides funding for people who can’t afford travel and lodging costs to get an abortion, and in many counties in Colorado there is no clinic. Cobalt itself is not an abortion provider. With neighboring and nearby states poised to completely ban abortion altogether, Glover said it’s only natural to expect more clients coming to the state for procedures.
“We do know that with the influx of folks that are coming in, there are probably going to be increased wait times, unfortunately, for abortion access; however, we are committed to ensuring that they have the resources,” Glover said.
She said the increase in patients was already happening after Texas passed a law in the spring that restricted abortions to be allowed before the end of six weeks of a pregnancy. Colorado allows abortions past 22 weeks and longer under certain circumstances.
“We’ve been working to ensure not only that we have the laws to protect abortion access for everybody but also working with organizations that are supporting providers and others to make sure that they have the resources available to meet the need,” Glover said.
Glover said pro-choice advocates plan to file a ballot initiative in 2024 that would add abortion access rights to the Colorado constitution. However, anti-abortion organizations recently were approved to gather signatures that would ban abortion in Colorado.
If it’s certified, it will be on this year’s general election ballot in November.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade was a sad day,” Glover said. “We see this as the beginning and ways for us to continue to to work to expand abortion access.”