Colorado Governor Jared Polis
right to an abortion in the state, after dozens of hours of testimony by residents and
fierce opposition by minority Republicans. The law guarantees access to reproductive
care before and after pregnancy and bans local governments from imposing their own
It also declares that fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses have no independent rights
— a response to failed ballot initiatives that sought to restrict abortion by giving
embryos the rights of born humans. In 2014, voters rejected a proposal to add unborn
human beings to the state’s criminal code, allowing prosecutors to charge anyone
who kills a fetus with a crime.
“Colorado has been, is, and will be a pro-choice state,” Polis said, calling for
increasing abortion restrictions elsewhere “an enormous government overreach,
an enormous government infringement” of individual rights. “No matter what the
Supreme Court does in the future, people in Colorado will be able to choose when
and if they have children.”
Colorado was the first state to decriminalize abortion in most cases in 1967, and it
allows access to abortion but had nothing in state law guaranteeing it. New Jersey,
Oregon and Vermont had previously codified the right to abortion throughout
pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that
supports abortion rights.
Republicans would still be able to introduce legislation and ballot measures to
reverse the new law. For that reason, abortion rights groups are weighing a 2024
constitutional ballot measure, much like Nevada did in 1990.
Colorado Democrats cited the high court’s consideration of a Mississippi case that
could overrule Roe v. Wade, as well as a new Texas law banning abortions after about
six weeks of pregnancy. If Roe is overturned fully, at least 26 states are likely to either
ban abortion outright or severely limit access, the Guttmacher Institute says.
“We don’t want to ever see what’s happening in Texas to happen in Colorado,” said
House Majority Leader Rep. Daneya Esgar, a sponsor of the Colorado legislation.
Idaho has enacted a law modeled after the Texas statute. Missouri lawmakers have
introduced a bill to make it illegal for the state’s residents to get abortions in other
states. Arizona’s legislature has approved a ban on abortion after 15 weeks and, like
other states, has a law that would automatically ban abortion if Roe is overturned.
In California, Democratic leaders are considering more than a dozen bills this year to
prepare for a Roe reversal. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law last month to make
abortions cheaper for people on private insurance plans. Washington state enacted a
law banning legal action against people who aid or receive an abortion, responding to
the Texas law’s provision allowing people to sue abortion providers or those who