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Sanctuary states pushing back in abortion fight

As many states around the country move to restrict access to abortion services, others like Colorado are pushing back.
Posted at 8:19 PM, Apr 19, 2023

As many states around the country move to restrict access to abortion services, others like Colorado are pushing back. 

"Just since the overturning of Roe versus Wade, we've seen countless attacks on reproductive rights and access to gender affirming care in neighboring states across the country," said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. 

The governor, a Democrat, just signed three new laws he says will ensure Colorado remains a safe haven for people seeking an abortion or services like gender-affirming surgery. 

17 states and Washington, D.C. have laws protecting the right to abortion. Three more make it a right in their state constitutions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

"We're here to make a bold statement by standing up for personal freedoms and reinforcing our commitment to supporting the health and wellness of Coloradoans," said Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera.

One of Colorado's new bills outlaws the use of scientifically-unproven, so-called "abortion reversal" pills. It also prohibits anti-abortion centers from marketing themselves as abortion clinics, a practice abortion rights advocates say deceives patients.

Abortion advocates march outside the U.S. Capitol.

Supreme Court expected to rule on abortion pill restrictions

Justices are expected to issue a decision Wednesday on a Texas case that seeks to roll back the FDA's approval of the abortion drug mifepristone.


"They will make appointments with these anti-abortion centers thinking that they are making an appointment for an abortion, because that's what their website says. Or because it says 'You can come and talk to us about all of your options', only to get there to find out that that is in fact not the case," said Katherine Riley with the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights.

Almost immediately after it was signed Friday, a judge temporarily exempted one anti-abortion clinic from the law. Bella Health and Wellness, which operates three clinics in the Denver area, argues the it violates free speech and equal protection rights. 

"Colorado's new law is the opposite of choice — it targets women who have changed their minds and forces them to undergo abortions they want to stop," said Laura Wolk, an attorney with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the firm representing Bella Health and Wellness. "We are grateful for the court's late-night order halting this draconian law, allowing our clients to continue their good work of serving women in need." 

Abortion rights advocates say that as neighboring states like Wyoming, Oklahoma Utah continue to ban abortions or transgender care, Colorado's doors will stay open. 

"It's a major, major public health crisis. And I think we're just proud to continue to lead the way and to say that we will be a safe place for our own residents as well as folks who need to come here for care," said Riley.