Demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021. Justices are hearing arguments in a Mississippi case that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade. (Jane Norman/States Newsroom)
As news broke that the U.S. Supreme Court plans to overturn the Roe v. Wade precedent, most Colorado leaders and elected officials reiterated their abortion-rights positions and emphasized that abortion access will be protected in the state.
“While states like Texas, Florida, and Arizona are engaging in the 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,” Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement. “While this is extremely disappointing news, representing a radical shift in American life away from individual freedom, in Colorado we will continue to fight for and respect the right to make decisions about your own body and medical health.”
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Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law in April, which codifies a person’s right to reproductive health care such as abortion in Colorado. The law makes sure the choice to have an abortion is legal.
The Democratic sponsors of that legislation said they were “devastated, but not surprised” by the court’s expected decision, which was first reported by Politico using leaked documents. RHEA was in anticipation of a decision against Roe v. Wade by a conservative-majority court.
“This Supreme Court decision, if issued as drafted, will imperil the lives of those seeking an abortion and threaten the health, safety, and reproductive freedom of millions of Americans. States across the country will continue to pass restrictive anti-abortion legislation or outright bans, making abortion nearly impossible for some and sending doctors to prison for providing abortion care,” Majority Leader Daneya Esgar of Pueblo, Rep. Meg Froelich of Englewood and Sen. Julie Gonzales of Denver said in a joint statement.
The drafted opinion, authored by Justice Samuel Alito, shows that the court plans to overturn the 50-year precedent after deciding on a Mississippi case that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Alito wrote that it is “time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” Draft opinions are not set in stone.
Rep. Diana DeGette, the Democratic co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus, said in a statement that an overturning would be an “unconscionable rollback of a fundamental right and would have devastating impacts throughout the country.”
“Everyone should have the right to make their own personal health care decisions that impact their lives, health and futures. And it is chilling to think this court is unwilling to protect those rights,” DeGette said in a joint statement with the caucus’s other chair Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
“If the court upends precedent, even more people across the country will soon be forced to travel hundreds of miles out of state or carry pregnancies to term against their will,” they said.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, 26 states have laws indicating that they would ban abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for abortion rights.
Following the Politico report, Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse tweeted that he supports eliminating the Senate filibuster to pass federal abortion access legislation. Democratic Rep. Jason Crow also tweeted that the Senate “must pass the Women’s Health Protection Act without delay to preserve the right to safe, legal abortions.”
That legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2021.
Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter also supports the passage of federal protections.
“Thankfully, here in Colorado, our elected officials are prioritizing women’s healthcare and reproductive rights,” he said in a statement. “Congress needs to act immediately to pass legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose and ensure every individual and family has the freedom to do what’s best for them.”
Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement that if the official decision is consistent with the draft, Americans need to fight to protect abortion in state and federal laws.
“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. 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,” he said.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans signaled their support for the court’s expected decision.
“If the reporting by Politico is accurate, this ruling would be the most consequential pro-life decision in decades. I hope and pray this is true,” Rep. Doug Lamborn tweeted. Lamborn has introduced bills during his time in Congress to limit abortion access.
While Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown called the leak of the draft opinion a “blatant act of sabotage,” she supports the expected decision, which has been a pillar of conservative politics for years.
“If this report is true, then countless lives have been saved,” she said in a statement. “Like the majority of Americans, Republicans believe that every single life is precious and that every child is worth saving. Equal rights are not equal until they extend to every human being. I pray that the Supreme Court releases an official decision that recognizes that fact.”
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