Jun 24, 2022 - News

What Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade reversal means for Colorado

Data: Axios research; Cartogram: Sara Wise and Oriana Gonzalez/Axios

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision Friday effectively repeals the right to an abortion for millions — but it won't have an immediate impact on Colorado.

Driving the news: "The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the 6-3 Dobbs v. Jackson ruling.

What to know: Colorado lawmakers codified unrestricted access to abortion into state law earlier this year, a month before a SCOTUS draft opinion leak in May suggested the high court would overturn the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser affirmed shortly after the ruling that "abortion remains legal in Colorado even after Dobbs."

  • The state's new law "guarantees the right to abortion and reproductive healthcare, including the right to medication abortion," he said in a statement, adding "these protections remain available for all seeking reproductive healthcare in our state regardless of their residency."

What they're saying: "If abortion access returns to the states, Colorado must remain a place where pregnant people can access abortion care without shame, stigma, political interference, or cost barriers," said Karen Middleton, director of Cobalt, a reproductive rights organization in Colorado.

  • "It's a devastating decision for women's right," said CU Law professor Jennifer Hendricks about Friday's ruling, adding the decision is "virtually identical" to the one leaked, with some additions.

The other side: "Today is the best day," Colorado Republican Party chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said in a statement. "After decades of so many Americans fighting for every single life, today, the Supreme Court of the United States has finally declared that every child is worth saving."

What's next: The formal ruling will galvanize both sides and accelerate fundraising efforts to push competing causes.

  • Colorado also is expecting an influx of out-of-state patients at medical clinics that provide abortions. An estimated 20% of abortions in Colorado are clients from other states, particularly Texas.

The intrigue: Just because abortion access is protected now doesn't mean it's settled law.

  • Anti-abortion advocates told Axios Denver earlier this year they would prepare ballot measures designed to ban it, despite the fact that Colorado voters rejected similar measures three times in the last six years.
  • Reproductive rights advocates are pledging to push their own referendum to secure access to abortion in the state's Constitution.
  • Catholic bishops in Colorado asked state lawmakers who supported the legislation to "voluntarily refrain" from receiving communion, calling it a "gravely sinful action."

The big picture: Without Roe and other Supreme Court precedents guaranteeing abortion access, states have the legal authority to regulate or ban the procedure at any point in a pregnancy — including at fertilization.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more