Colorado Democrats introduce bill to enshrine abortion rights into law
DENVER — Colorado Democrats introduced their bill this week that seeks to codify full access to reproductive health care into law in the face of new abortion restrictions and bans in other states and the challenge of Roe v . Wade that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on this year. .
On Thursday, lawmakers introduced HB22-1279, called the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and sponsor representatives Meg Froelich and Daneya Esgar, and Senator Julie Gonzales, held a press conference to discuss the measure. Friday.
The sponsors said the measure had been ready since the first day of this year’s legislative session. It’s something they started working on after Texas Senate Bill 8 passed and went into effect last September, a law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser was one of two dozen attorneys who filed an amicus brief in support of a U.S. Justice Department challenge to the Texas law, and in in early october, hundreds of coloradans held a rally outside the capitol building in denver calling for reproductive freedom.
The bill’s sponsors said there have been many cases of people coming from Texas to Colorado and other places where abortions are restricted to seek abortions and other reproductive health care.
Gonzales said she and other lawmakers heard from many voters about what Colorado would do to enshrine access to reproductive rights, and they decided to prepare what would become House Bill 1279.
Gonzales noted that Coloradans have five times over the past 14 years rejected ballot measures that would have restricted abortion and other reproductive health access, and that lawmakers have introduced 41 bills with goals similar before this year as well as three that were rejected. earlier this session.
“It’s a constant buzzing in the background,” she said. “We are thrilled with how we are providing affirmative and proactive measures to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care here in our state.”
The bill applies to anyone who is pregnant or may become pregnant and deliberately uses inclusive language, the sponsors said.
“The bill declares that every individual has a fundamental right to continue or refuse contraception; every pregnant person has the fundamental right to continue her pregnancy and to give birth or have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus has no independent or derivative rights under state law,” the bill states.
It calls people’s access to contraception a “fundamental right” that cannot be violated and prohibits state and local public entities from interfering with a person’s right to continue a pregnancy, give birth or have an abortion. .
The sponsors noted at the press conference and in the language of the bill that Colorado’s reproductive rights push began before the Roe v. Wade, decriminalizing abortion care in 1967 six years before the Supreme Court ruling.
“Colorado has long been a leader in access to reproductive health care. What we see now is that there are no affirmations in the law,” Gonzales said. “In a world where Roe v. Wade falls, we want to make it clear that no matter what happens in the Supreme Court, access here is protected.”
The high court heard arguments in December over a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.
The bill’s tax memo prepared by Legislative Council Services states that if Medicaid does not cover contraceptives, abortions, or family planning, it will not deny, restrict, or discriminate against those services. , which the sponsors said was legal.
The sponsors said they would prepare a 2024 statewide constitutional amendment ballot measure to amend the constitution to enshrine reproductive rights as well.
“We just think we need that time and that momentum to muster as much power as possible to push it through,” Esgar said.
The sponsors they were confident HB22-1279 would pass and be signed by the Governor. Fifty-eight of the 63 Democrats in the General Assembly signed the bill as sponsors when it was introduced.
The first committee hearing on the bill is set for Wednesday, March 9 at 1:30 p.m. at the House Health and Insurance Committee.