Colorado joins coalition in support of a federal challenge to Texas abortion ban

By: - September 17, 2021 3:04 pm

Protesters hold up signs at a protest outside the Texas state capitol on May 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Thousands of protesters came out in response to a new bill outlawing abortions after six weeks signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbot. (Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general on Wednesday in filing a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in support of the Department of Justice’s challenge to new abortion restrictions in Texas, Weiser announced in a press release. Texas Senate Bill 8 went into effect on Sept. 1 and bans abortion after about six weeks of gestation, which is before many women know they are pregnant. 

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas over Senate Bill 8, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Sept. 9, according to a Department of Justice press release. The complaint alleges that the law violates the U.S. Constitution. The Department requested that Texas temporarily stop enforcing the new ban.


Weiser, along with the other attorneys general, argue in the court brief that by banning “nearly all pre-viability abortions within Texas’s borders, the law, Senate Bill 8, violates nearly 50 years of Supreme Court precedent affirming the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before viability,” the press release says.

“I am committed to defending women’s reproductive rights and equality, and Texas’ new law violates longstanding U.S. Supreme Court precedent by denying women their constitutionally protected right to make their own healthcare decisions,” Weiser said in the press release.

“In enacting S.B. 8, the Texas Legislature evinced its willingness to ignore the Supreme Court’s constitutional rulings and to thwart judicial review by creating a private, rather than government, enforcement scheme,” the court brief states. “Such an unprecedented attack on our constitutional order and the rule of law must be unequivocally rejected.” 

The Department of Justice in its Sept. 9 press release also criticized Texas for giving individual citizens the ability to enforce the law.

“Instead of relying on the state’s executive branch to enforce the law, as is the norm in Texas and elsewhere, the state has deputized ordinary citizens to serve as bounty hunters, statutorily authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of her own constitutional rights,” the press release says. “The complaint challenges that this unprecedented scheme is designed to evade judicial review.”

The brief was joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to the press release. The attorney general of the District of Columbia also joined the brief, which was led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, according to a press release from Healey on Wednesday. 

President Joe Biden criticized Texas’ bill in a Sept. 1 statement, saying that his administration is committed to defending the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade. 

Pro-choice activists with the National Organization For Women hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Abortion remains legal in Colorado. Colorado requires an abortion provider to notify a patient’s parents or legal guardians if a person under 18 wants to get an abortion. 

Proposition 115, which was on the Colorado ballot in 2020 and would have banned abortion after 22 weeks of gestation, failed decisively. This year, Colorado passed the Health Care Access in Cases of Rape or Incest bill. Senate Bill 21-142 removed certain restrictions on abortion services, including removing the requirement that abortion services only be performed at certain health care facilities. This bill was sponsored by Colorado Sens. Brittany Pettersen and Kerry Donovan and Colorado Reps. Yadira Caraveo and Julie McCluskie. 

Some abortion providers and clinics requested the Supreme Court temporarily block the abortion ban prior to it going into effect on Sept. 1, but the Supreme Court voted not to halt the ban from going into effect. 

Some Colorado abortion providers are preparing for an increase in patients from Texas seeking abortion care in Colorado as a result of the Texas law. Some Colorado providers have already seen an increase in calls from people in Texas, according to the The Colorado Sun and Colorado Politics

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Vicki Cowart criticized the Texas abortion ban.

“This law limits access to the health care that is a human right based on the arbitrary fact of one’s zip code,” Cowart said in a Sept. 1 statement. “It also isolates patients by placing their entire support network in potential legal jeopardy. It’s extreme, cruel, and stands in stark contrast to the strong support the vast majority Americans have for abortion care in this country.”

“Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains provides safe, legal abortion care to our communities and anyone forced to travel here to access the care they deserve,” the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains website says. “If you are a patient traveling from Texas to access care here, you are safe here. We are here for you. It appears that Texas’ ban cannot be enforced in our region.” 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.