Colorado could soon guarantee the right to abortions if Gov. Jared Polis signs a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature into law.
State senators passed HB22-1279 on a party-line vote of 20-15 Wednesday, a measure brought by Democrats aimed at proactively protecting abortion rights with the impending threat of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that made abortion access a constitutional right without excessive government involvement.
All Republicans voted against the bill Wednesday.
Polis, a Democrat, indicated on Wednesday that he would sign the bill, saying, “I’m pro-choice.”
Each hearing on the Colorado legislation garnered hours of debate in committees and on the House and Senate floors, with House Republicans breaking a record in stalling the bill from getting a vote over a 23-hour period. Democrats are in control of both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor’s office, so it was not a question of whether they could get the bill passed, rather how much opposition they would receive. They rejected Republican attempts at changing the bill.
The bill, dubbed the Reproduction Health Equity Act, would enshrine the right to abortions into state law and other reproductive care before and after pregnancy, and it would ban local and state governments from interfering in that care. It would also prevent a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus from having independent rights under state law.
While Colorado already doesn’t have gestational restrictions on abortions, it doesn’t have a guarantee in state law, something advocates and Democrats wanted to change as other states are doing the opposite. Colorado would join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in codifying the right to abortions in state law, according to reproductive rights organization the Guttmacher Institute, and is among the first to introduce such legislation after a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
With a court majority of conservative justices who in December indicated a willingness to uphold Mississippi’s law, Republican legislatures across the country are passing bills restricting abortion access.
Still, Democrats have acknowledged that a future legislature could overturn their law, so advocates plan to ask Colorado voters to approve a constitutional amendment in 2024 for abortion access.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Reporter Alex Burness contributed to this story.
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