May 4, 2022 - News

Why abortion access is far from settled law in Colorado

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Abortion is a new dividing line in the 2022 election, and both sides believe it can play to their advantage.

Why it matters: The U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision to overturn Roe v. Wade puts the issue back in the hands of the states.

State of play: Just because Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed protections into law in April doesn't mean the issue won't continue to be hotly contested.

  • Both advocates and opponents tell Axios Denver they are preparing ballot measures on the issue for the 2024 election.

What they're saying: "It's going to become a bigger social issue, and voters need to be ready for that at every single election cycle," Jeff Hunt, director of the conservative Centennial Institute, told John.

  • "My contention is the trend is with us. We may lose the battles but we will win the war in this state," he added.

The other side: Reproductive rights advocates in Colorado are moving forward with a 2024 referendum to put protections in the state constitution and plan to defeat anti-abortion candidates in this November's election.

  • The anti-abortion bandwagon "is not a winning message," Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt, a reproductive rights organization, told us.
  • The voters spoke in 2020, she argues, when they defeated Proposition 115, a ban on abortions after 22 weeks. The "no" totals exceeded what the top Democratic winners received by more than 55,000 votes.

The big picture: Colorado has always been a central player in the national debate, as it was the first state to sign abortion protections into law in 1967.

  • The national "personhood" debate — to give unborn children rights — began here in the 2008 election, when the measure was defeated; it was defeated a total of three times in six years.
  • And reproductive rights dominated the 2016 U.S. Senate race, where a Republican victory helped confirm the current Supreme Court conservative majority.
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