Colorado abortion providers expect surge of Texas patients after heartbeat law goes in effect

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Texas is now home to the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, and now Colorado healthcare providers say they expect a surge of pregnant people to travel to the state for reproductive care.

The new law that took effect Wednesday bars abortions once a doctor can detect a heartbeat. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to block it.

“What Texas is trying to do is to scare people into thinking that they cannot get an abortion,” Diana Gomez, advocacy manager of Progress Texas, said at a protest on the steps of the Texas Capitol.

In other corners of the state: celebration.

“Texas is proud to be the first state in the entire nation to enact and enforce a heartbeat act,” Kimberlyn Schwartz, communications director for Texas Right to Life, said.

A security guard opens the door to the Whole Women’s Health Clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021. A Texas law banning most abortions in the state took effect at midnight, but the Supreme Court has yet to act on an emergency appeal to put the law on hold. If allowed to remain in force, the law would be the most dramatic restriction on abortion rights in the United States since the high court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the country in 1973. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

The law makes it so that Texans can only get an abortion before a heartbeat is detected — usually as early as six weeks. Critics argue many don’t even know they are pregnant by that time.

The new law will also allow private citizens to sue abortion providers who perform the procedures, as well as anyone else who helps a patient obtain an abortion. That even includes a driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic.

One expectation is more people will travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services.

“We are definitely prepared for seeing an influx of Texas patients,” Vicki Cowart, with Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said.

The organization includes Colorado, New Mexico, south Nevada and Wyoming. They already saw a surge of abortion patients last year in March, at the start of the pandemic, when the Texas governor signed an executive order to temporarily stop procedures that were not medically necessary — and included most abortions.

“In the month of April [2020], Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains saw 200 patients from Texas, so it was a real spike,” Cowart said.

President Joe Biden weighed in on Wednesday, saying Texas’ law “blatantly violates” the constitutional right under Roe v. Wade, and that his administration is committed to upholding those rights.

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