A pro-abortion rights activist holds up a sign during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade May 3, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
The Cobalt Abortion Fund spent nearly half a million dollars on abortion procedures and support services for patients following the overturning of Roe v. Wade last summer, a figure that is more than double its entire spending in previous years and represents an exponential increase in the requests for help the organization is receiving from pregnant people seeking abortion care.
Cobalt — a Denver-based advocacy group whose donor-supported Abortion Fund provides financial assistance to people seeking abortion care — said it spent close to $700,000 total in 2022, including about $475,000 for abortion procedures for 1,717 patients and about $220,000 on practical support services for 640 patients, which includes items like transportation and lodging.
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The bulk of spending happened between late June and the end of the year, after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned the precedent that gave people the right to an abortion. As surrounding states banned or severely limited abortion following the decision, pregnant people seeking abortions came to Colorado, which codified the right to an abortion last year, to receive care.
Last year, 3,670 pregnant people came to Colorado for an abortion, according to provisional data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Nearly 2,300 traveled from Texas. Those numbers are markedly up from 1,631 people in 2021 and 1,318 in 2020.
Some of the people who came to Colorado in 2022 turned to organizations like Cobalt for help.
After the Dobbs decision, Cobalt spent about $300,000 on abortions for its patients and about $200,000 on practical support. That reflects about 70% of its spending for the entire year.
For comparison, the organization’s total spending in 2021 was just over $206,000 and about $204,000 in 2020. Practical support was the fastest growing area of need for Cobalt clients following Dobbs as patients coming from neighboring states needed help covering travel costs.
The day of the Dobbs decision, Cobalt’s caseload “tripled” and it continues to increase, according to Cobalt Abortion Fund Director Amanda Carlson.
“What these numbers really highlight is the domino effect of abortion bans,” she said in a statement. “Mandatory waiting periods, making an appointment with a fake clinic, being forced to take time off work and find childcare to travel to another state; all result in stress, trauma, lost wages, and also increased gestation when seeking care. People are being pushed into later gestations due to travel complications and also appointment availability with our inundated abortion providers.”
On Monday, state lawmakers commemorated what would have been, on Jan. 22, the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
“I wish we were here celebrating the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, we are grieving the overturning of this landmark decision. There are now huge swaths of the country where a woman seeking an abortion has nowhere to go unless she can get to a state with abortion protection,” state Sen. Janet Buckner, an Aurora Democrat, said on the Senate floor.
This legislative session, lawmakers will likely seek to expand protections for abortion providers and patients who come from out of state, though no legislation has yet been introduced.
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