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Colorado lawmakers react to Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting end of federal abortion protectio

Scott Franz
Capitol Coverage

Colorado’s Democratic lawmakers and abortion rights advocates say they are devastated — but not surprised — by a leaked draft of a legal opinion suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court is ready to let states ban abortion.

It is still unclear whether the draft opinion, published Monday night by Politico, will be the court’s final decision. But officials in Colorado swiftly reacted to the leak and vowed to protect the state’s unrestricted access to the procedure.

Gov. Jared Polis said the court’s possible move to overturn Roe V. Wade is “extremely disappointing” and a “radical shift in American life away from individual freedom.”

“While states like Texas, Florida and Arizona are engaging in unwelcome intrusion of government into deeply personal and religious decisions, Colorado remains a refuge where individual rights are respected and where any person has the ability to live, work, thrive and raise a family on their own terms,” Polis said.

If the Supreme Court does overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion would remain legal in Colorado.

But the procedure would likely be restricted or banned in several nearby states, including Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Arizona.

As more states around the country attempted to pass bans and restrictions earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers passed a law to enshrine abortion rights into state law.

Last month, Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which says all Coloradans have a fundamental right to abortions, and fertilized eggs and embryos have no individual rights under state law.

“Colorado has been, is and will be a pro-choice state," Polis said at the governor's mansion before he signed it in front of a large crowd of lawmakers. "We do not imprison or jail doctors or women who choose to take control of their own reproductive health."

The new law also bans cities and towns from passing abortion restrictions.

 Gov. Polis hands out commemorative pens at the signing ceremony for the Reproductive Health Equity Act on Monday.
Scott Franz/Capitol Coverage
Gov. Polis hands out commemorative pens at the signing ceremony for the Reproductive Health Equity Act on Monday.

House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, Rep. Meg Froelich and Sen. Julie Gonzales were sponsors of the abortion rights bill.

The Democrats said Monday night that they would continue to fight for abortion rights.

“This Supreme Court decision, if issued as drafted, will imperil the lives of those seeking an abortion and threaten the health, safety and reproductive freedoms of millions of Americans,” they wrote in a joint statement.

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet called the current Supreme Court “radical.”

“If this draft opinion reflects the Court’s decision to overturn Roe, it represents an attack on a fundamental constitutional right enshrined in law for half a century,” he said in a statement. “And it would drag us into a past when women faced horrific risks to their lives because they lacked the freedom to make their own health care choices.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in Colorado are welcoming the possibility of Roe v. Wade being struck down.

“If this report is true, then countless lives have been saved,” state GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown said in a statement. “Like the majority of Americans, Republicans believe that every single life is precious and that every life is worth saving.”

Colorado was the first state to decriminalize abortions in 1967 — and voters have now rejected four initiatives to restrict it since 2008.

In 2020, voters rejected a measure aiming to restrict the procedure after 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Copyright 2022 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.