DENVER (KDVR) — A bill that aims to protect people who receive or provide abortion or gender-affirming health care is another step closer to becoming law.
Senate Bill 23-188 passed the House on Saturday. It’s now headed back to the Senate to consider amendments. Once approved, it would go to Gov. Jared Polis for a final signature.
“Our bill codifies important protections for legally protected health care service to make sure our patients, providers and assistors are shielded from interstate prosecution, retaliation and imprisonment,” bill sponsor Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, said in a statement.
People in states that have banned or severely limited abortion and gender-affirming care access often travel to Colorado for the services. The proposed bill creates a “shield law” for people involved in the care, including protections for out-of-state patients and providers, according to the Colorado Democrats.
The measure bars Colorado from recognizing or enforcing civil lawsuits related to abortion and gender-affirming care, as states like Texas and Oklahoma have allowed through restrictive new laws. It also prohibits state employees from taking part in interstate investigations or releasing related health-care information.
“For many, having access to gender-affirming care is both life-saving and validating. This important legislation protects our privacy, prioritizes patients and providers over politics and upholds our fundamental rights to health care,” bill sponsor Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, said in a statement.
3 abortion-related bills closer to becoming law
House lawmakers also advanced two other abortion-related bills on Saturday. Senate Bill 189 expands insurance coverage for abortions and other reproductive health care services. Senate Bill 190 bars deceptive advertising by anti-abortion pregnancy centers.
Saturday’s votes come after days of debate on abortion-related bills in the legislature. Republicans brought amendments and arguments to the House floor on Thursday and Friday as lawmakers took up the bills.
On Saturday, Colorado House Republicans called the package of abortion bills “overreaching and hyper-partisan,” saying their 29 proposed amendments “were commonsense and brought rationale and reasonable fixes to these bills.”
Among the amendments was a strike on the prohibition of so-called abortion pill “reversal,” as well as mandatory reporting requirements for reproductive health workers and training requirements for things like child abuse and human trafficking awareness. None passed.
Democrats ultimately used a rule to restrict time on each measure to six hours of debate.
Republicans criticized the use of House Rule 14, which limits debate. They said they could not find any use of the rule since 1999.
“This abuse takes away what limited tools the Minority has to have meaningful debate and bring the Majority to the negotiating table to make reasonable improvements to bills,” Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, said in a statement.