Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the bill that guarantees abortion access and other reproductive rights in state statute on Monday.
HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, says that state and local public entities are prohibited from interfering with a person’s right to continue a pregnancy, give birth, or have an abortion. It also calls people’s access to contraception a “fundamental right.”
The bill passed the Senate on March 23 to head to Polis’ desk after more than 36 hours worth of public testimony in both chambers of the legislature.
Polis thanked the bill’s sponsors – Rep. Meg Froelich, House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar and Sen. Julie Gonzales – for sponsoring the legislation as the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule this summer on a challenge regarding a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, which the sponsors and other say is a direct challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling.
“In the state of Colorado, the very serious decision to start a pregnancy or end a pregnancy with medical assistance remains between a person, their doctor and their faith,” Polis said in the bill signing news conference. “…As the federal legal landscape further evolves, Colorado can now continue to assure our residents that the very intimate right to choose how and whether to proceed with family planning and pregnancy can continue as it has been protected at the state level. Because in Colorado, we truly respect individual rights and freedom.”
Sponsors have pointed to Texas’ Senate Bill 8 took effect last September, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Colorado decriminalized abortion care in 1967 six years prior to the Roe v. Wade decision.
They have also said that Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada would likely be the only states in the Rocky Mountain region where people might have access to abortion care.
“We don’t ever want to see something that’s happening in Texas happen here in Colorado, and it’s too bad that we have to do this,” Esgar said. “But we’re seeing what’s happening on the federal level and we need to be making sure that we are doing our job as lawmakers here to protect the people of Colorado.”
Sponsors said earlier this month they will also prepare a statewide constitutional amendment ballot measure for 2024 to enshrine reproductive rights in the constitution as well.
“The people speaking unanimously through their democratic elected representatives in both chambers have affirmed that we should trust Coloradans to make their own reproductive health care decisions,” Gonzales said, also thanking the various groups that have supported their measure and other reproductive rights bills.
“This is about freedom and this is about power,” she added. “The freedom to decide when, whether, and how to become a parent. The power to make your own decision about your body and your health without having to ask permission of your local politician.”
This story was first reported by Blair Miller at KMGH in Denver.