Jul 28, 2022 - News

Colorado eyeing legislation to protect abortion providers post-Roe

Status of abortion bans in the U.S.
Data: Axios Research; Map: Baidi Wang/Axios

Abortion remains legal in Colorado, but providers are still worried.

Threat level: As more states enact abortion bans with criminal penalties, Colorado providers are increasingly fearful of facing prosecution or lawsuits when treating out-of-state patients.

  • Earlier this year, neighboring Oklahoma made providing an abortion punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

What to watch: Colorado reproductive rights advocates are prepared for what they call "a race to the bottom" with other states criminalizing abortion. The legal authority for interstate action is dubious, but state lawmakers aren't taking chances.

  • "We are really entering an area of unknown risk," Jack Teter at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains told us recently.

State Rep. Meg Froelich (D-Englewood) tells Axios Denver that she's crafting legislation to provide assurances to abortion providers so they can't face persecution in other states where it's illegal.

  • The legislation — expected to debut when lawmakers return to the Capitol in January — would also protect those who assist women in getting abortions, whether by providing a ride or financial assistance.
  • Other language would put into law elements of Gov. Jared Polis' recent executive order that added protections for providers' licenses.

What they're saying: "It's scary to me to look at some of the states where it is illegal or where it's going to be very restricted and look at what they're trying to do to providers in terms of imposing penalties that are financial or ... going to prison, losing your license," Kelly Peters, Boulder Valley Women's Health Center's medical director, told Denver7.

The big picture: This month, Connecticut became the first state to add protections for providers against out-of-state legal action by limiting extradition authority and allowing for counter-lawsuits.

  • Three law professors who supported the legislation — David Cohen, Greer Donley and Rachel Rebouché — testified that the new measure acknowledges "the very real threat that other states pose" when it comes to providing abortions.

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