May 17, 2022 - Politics

Colorado Democrats make abortion a key 2022 election issue

Data: Guttmacher Institute; Map: Thomas Oide and Erin Davis/Axios
Data: Guttmacher Institute; Map: Thomas Oide and Erin Davis/Axios

Jared Polis made more than 100 promises to voters in his first bid for governor.

  • Now, one of the first pledges of his reelection campaign centers on abortion rights.

What he's saying: "If we win, we will do everything we can to defend every Coloradan's right to choose and strengthen our protections," Polis told supporters in a recent campaign email.

  • He added ominously: "Elections have consequences, and we must take action."

Why it matters: Following the national party's lead, Polis and other top Colorado Democrats are using the potential repeal of Roe v. Wade β€” as foreshadowed in a leaked draft opinion β€” as a way to shift the conversation away from inflation, crime and COVID-19 response.

Between the lines: Democrats consider this a winning strategy because Colorado voters have repeatedly defeated anti-abortion measures on the state ballot, and polls consistently show support for abortion access.

  • Meanwhile, national Republicans are urging party members to address the issue cautiously, emphasizing compassion.

Zoom in: The two Republicans vying in the primary for a chance to challenge Polis both opposed the state's new law to codify unfettered abortion access in state law.

Heidi Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent, initially wouldn't say whether she supported a ban on abortion, but in April, she told supporters she would "rip up the disgusting Polis abortion bill."

  • Her campaign declined to comment to Axios Denver about the high court's draft decision, nor what legislation she would sign as governor.

Greg Lopez, Parker's former mayor, testified against the bill at the state Capitol and said it is "wrong to sacrifice our children on the altar of choice."

  • In a recent interview with 9News, he said state law should acknowledge "there is life in the womb of a female" and said he would sign an abortion ban.

Of note: A Republican governor can't just "rip up" the law β€” they would need to repeal it with help from a GOP-majority legislature, which is not likely to materialize.

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