Mar 15, 2023 - News

Colorado moves to make abortions and contraception free

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Colorado wants to cement its status as a safe haven for women by making abortions and contraception free.

Driving the news: A Democratic-led bill that advanced Wednesday at the state Capitol would require most health insurance plans to cover medication abortions, contraception, vasectomies and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases without any out-of-pocket costs.

  • The far-reaching measure would also allow girls as young as 12 to receive contraception, including long-acting methods like IUDs, and abortion referrals without notice or consent from parents.
  • Other provisions provide abortion coverage for people living in the country illegally and make it easier to get treatment for HIV.

The big picture: Colorado ensured unrestricted access to abortion in state law last year, just ahead of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

  • Advocates consider the new bill β€” and two related measures β€” the next steps to making it easier for women to seek reproductive health care.

What they're saying: "We need to take Colorado from legal to accessible," said Sen. Lisa Cutter, a bill sponsor and Democrat from Morrison.

Reality check: Not all insurers would provide cost-free coverage. The requirement for large employer plans wouldn't take effect until 2025, and individual and small group plans must wait for federal approval.

  • The bill also contains an exemption for religious institutions based on federal law, and observers say the rules wouldn't apply to self-funded plans.

By the numbers: The new coverage would increase premiums across the board by roughly $2 million β€” or up to $4.4 million, an independent analysis shows. But increases in enrollment and reduced costs of pregnancies and surgical abortions would negate the increase for the insured.

The other side: Opponents argued at the Wednesday hearing that the measure would face legal challenges and circumvents a state constitutional prohibition on taxpayer funding of abortions.

  • They also expressed concern about not requiring parental notification for health care services. "Parents should know if their minor is seeking an abortion so they are able to provide counsel," said Nicole Hunt with Focus on the Family, a religious organization based in Colorado Springs.

What's next: The conversation will continue with bills designed to crackdown on abortion misinformation, as well as protect care providers and women against punitive laws in other states.

  • All are expected to pass in the Democratic-controlled statehouse.

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