DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers and advocacy groups were quick to react to a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that shows it’s set to overturn the landmark cases that guarantee the right to abortion.
Abortion rights advocates called for a law or even a Constitutional amendment to enshrine the right to abortion, while anti-abortion advocates celebrated the news.
In 1967 and under a Republican governor, Colorado was the first U.S. state to allow abortion. Even as other U.S. states restrict the procedure, abortion access remains unhindered in Colorado, and voters have repeatedly rejected ballot measures to restrict access. In April, the governor signed a law to protect abortion access in the state.
Still, the anti-abortion sentiment is represented among U.S. Reps. Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn and Lauren Boebert. They’ve shown support for the restrictive Mississippi abortion law that’s the subject of the court’s draft opinion. All three lawmakers signed a brief in support of the law and called for the landmark abortion case to be overturned.
Sponsors of Colorado’s abortion rights law
Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, Rep. Meg Froelich and Sen. Julie Gonzales sponsored the Reproductive Health Equity Act that codifies the right to abortion in Colorado. The Democratic state lawmakers released the following joint statement:
“We are devastated, but not surprised. This Supreme Court decision, if issued as drafted, will imperil the lives of those seeking an abortion and threaten the health, safety, and reproductive freedom of millions of Americans. States across the country will continue to pass restrictive anti-abortion legislation or outright bans, making abortion nearly impossible for some and sending doctors to prison for providing abortion care.
“We are grateful for the Democratic lawmakers who joined with us to pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act to protect the right to abortion care in Colorado, and who understand that politicians shouldn’t interfere with patients’ private medical decisions. Colorado will not go back to a time when patients were forced to seek out unsafe abortions, putting their health and lives at risk. We will continue fighting to keep abortion legal for all Coloradans and the countless individuals who will be forced to travel to our state for care, or carry unsafe pregnancies to term.”
Lynn Grandon is the program director for Respect Life Denver, an Archdiocese of Denver anti-abortion group.
“I really never thought I would see it in my lifetime,” Grandon told FOX31 in an interview, referring to the potential end of abortion rights at the federal level. She criticized the recent abortion law passed in Colorado, saying it will make the state “an abortion destination.”
Even before the law, abortion providers in Colorado pointed to a major influx in abortion patients from neighboring states, like Texas, which recently restricted abortion access.
Gov. Jared Polis
In April, Gov. Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law. He released this statement on Monday:
“While states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona are engaging in the unwelcome intrusion of government into deeply personal and religious decisions, Colorado remains a refuge where individual rights are respected and where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive, and raise a family on their own terms.
While this is extremely disappointing news, representing a radical shift in American life away from individual freedom, in Colorado we will continue to fight for and respect the right to make decisions about your own body and medical health.”
Secretary of State Jena Griswold
“The coming #SCOTUS decision to overturn #RoeVWade, which has made abortions safer and more accessible for nearly 50 years, is a tragedy,” Griswold tweeted. “Every person deserves the right to make decisions about their body, their health, their economic independence, their safety, and their future.”
Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown
“If this report is true, then countless lives have been saved. Like the majority of Americans, Republicans believe that every single life is precious and that every child is worth saving. Equal rights are not equal until they extend to every human being. I pray that the Supreme Court releases an official decision that recognizes that fact. We must all choose to keep working until every child is protected, every woman is supported, and every family is strong.
I also want to be clear that this leak was a blatant act of sabotage aimed at bullying Supreme Court justices and undermining the legitimacy of the court. While we pray for the safety of the justices, the full power of the government should also be used to get to the bottom of this leak and hold the individual responsible.”
Abortion rights groups
Abortion rights groups Cobalt and the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights pushed for the constitutional enshrinement of abortion rights in the U.S.
“This is exactly what we feared and why it was so important for Colorado to protect the fundamental right to abortion in Colorado law with the Reproductive Health Equity Act,” said Cobalt President Karen Middleton. “We have warned legislators and the public alike that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v Wade, and this further confirms it. Regardless of what the Supreme Court ultimately decides with a final decision, because of RHEA Coloradans have the right to abortion access affirmed in our state law. This makes the urgent need to put the right to abortion in our Constitution in 2024 even more of a priority, and to hold accountable those who didn’t support abortion access with RHEA in 2022.”
“With this potential decision, this court is yet again showing it has no problem harming pregnant people across the country, particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, undocumented people, and those having difficulty making ends meet,” said Dusti Gurule, President and CEO of COLOR. “At the core of our movement for Reproductive Justice is community power. And our historic victory to protect our right to abortion – in the face of a hostile Supreme Court – is just the beginning.”
“This is why it was so important for Colorado to protect the fundamental right to abortion into law with the Reproductive Health Equity Act. While Coloradans’ rights are now protected, we won’t stop until every state follows our footsteps in codifying abortion access and reproductive rights into law.”
Colorado leaders in Washington
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette and Rep. Barbara Lee, of California, lead the Pro-Choice Caucus in favor of abortion rights. They released the following statement calling for the federal codification of abortion rights:
“If accurate, tonight’s POLITICO report of a draft Supreme Court decision is the clearest indication yet that the court is poised to overturn decades of legal precedent and deal a shattering blow to the right to access abortion care in the U.S. Such a move would be an unconscionable rollback of a fundamental right and would have devastating impacts throughout the country.
Everyone should have the right to make their own personal health care decisions that impact their lives, health and futures. And it is chilling to think this court is unwilling to protect those rights.
If the Supreme Court does, in fact, overturn Roe, half the states in the U.S. will likely move to severely restrict or outright ban abortion care. If the court upends precedent, even more people across the country will soon be forced to travel hundreds of miles out of state or carry pregnancies to term against their will. Abortion bans impact everyone, but their effects fall hardest on people who already face barriers in accessing health care – particularly Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, undocumented people, and those working to make ends meet.
At this point, it’s important to emphasize that this decision is not final and abortion care is still legal. We are still fighting every day to protect and expand abortion access across the country. And, now more than ever, we need our colleagues in the U.S. Senate to do the same by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) immediately to enshrine the right to access abortion care into federal law.”
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet released the following statement:
“I have long had concerns about the radical nature of this Supreme Court. If this draft opinion reflects the Court’s decision to overturn Roe, it represents an attack on a fundamental constitutional right enshrined in law for half a century. And it would drag us into a past when women faced horrific risks to their lives because they lacked the freedom to make their own health care choices.
Assuming the Court issues an official decision consistent with this draft, the American people will have to fight to enshrine this fundamental right in our national and state laws.”
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter released this statement:
“If true, this action from the U.S. Supreme Court would be devastating for women and families across the country. Thankfully, here in Colorado, our elected officials are prioritizing women’s healthcare and reproductive rights. Congress needs to act immediately to pass legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose and ensure every individual and family has the freedom to do what’s best for them.”