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Abortion in Colorado

I put this information together, over the course of the last few years, updating it each time the Colorado State Legislature pushes another outrageous set of laws expanding abortion in Colorado. I believe it is important to get this information out there to counter the constant Democrat-led advocacy for abortion. I almost held this back after the Trump indictment was made public on March 30, 2023. But I think we will go ahead and post it so that we get this information out there. I hope to put together a blog on the Trump indictment. I want to research the issue, as I try to do with all my blogs. Frankly, I am stunned at this latest Democrat attack on President Trump. More to come on that. So here is the current status of abortion in the State of Colorado.


The issue of abortion was a factor in the 2022 General Election. While it did not seem to be so, here in Delta County, it definitely was in parts of the State where Democrats dominate. The Democrats made abortion an issue in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court issued what is now called the Dobbs Decision on June 24, 2022 (Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, No. 19-1392. 597 U.S). This was a landmark decision in which the court held that the Constitution of the United States does not confer a right to abortion. The Dobb’s Decision overruled both the 1973 Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, giving individual states the power to regulate any aspect of abortion not protected by federal law. The Democrats used the Dobbs decision to motivate Democrat voters in the 2022 election, especially in the urban Front Range counties and places like Pitkin County. While Colorado has the most liberal abortion laws in the United States, the Democrats were still able to influence voters into thinking abortion was on the ballot. I believe abortion is going to continue to be an election issue, as long as Democrats find success in using it. We need to understand what the abortion laws are in Colorado, how that is influencing the number of abortions and how Democrats are making it a campaign issue. We need to be able to discuss it knowledgably. This is the nearly unbelievable status of abortion in Colorado:


Prior to 1967 abortion in Colorado was legal only to save the life of the mother. Restrictions date back to 1863.


April 25, 1967 - Colorado was the first state to enact a modern abortion law. This law allowed an abortion if the woman’s physical or mental health was threatened, if the unborn child might have birth defects or in cases of rape or incest. All abortions still had to be approved by a three-doctor panel at participating hospitals and were only permitted during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. First –term Democrat Representative Richard Lamm introduced the bill, a Republican Legislature passed it and Republican Governor John Love signed the bill.


January 22, 1973 – The U.S. Supreme Court in the case Roe v. Wade out of the Texas Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. In their decision on Roe, along with its companion case Doe v Bolton, on January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state laws regarding abortion as unconstitutional. The decision was based on the Court’s interpretation of the “Due-process Clause” of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The 14th Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868. Its purpose was to grant citizenship to the former slaves and protect their civil rights. The Supreme Court majority, 7-2, based its decision on a “right-to-privacy” that they stated is implied in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment. At this point individual states had to pass laws addressing abortion, but still comply with the Roe v. Wade Decision.


November 6, 1984 – Ballot Initiative 3 to amend the Colorado Constitution to prohibit the use of public funds for abortions was approved 50.39% to 49.61%. The exact language was” Shall there be an amendment to Article V of the Colorado Constitution prohibiting use of public funds by the State of Colorado or any of its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or reimburse, directly or indirectly, any person, agency, or facility for any induced abortion, but permitting the General Assembly, by specific bill, to authorize and appropriate funds for medical services necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman or her unborn child if every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each?” Richard Lamm (D) governor 1975-1987.


2003 - The Colorado Parental Notification Law, known as the “Colorado Parental Notification Act”, was passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2003. The law requires physicians or healthcare providers to notify a parent or guardian of a minor’s scheduled abortion procedure. There are exceptions to the notification rule, such as the formal emancipation of a minor or the minor has obtained a Judicial Bypass of the parental notification requirement. This requirement is C.R.S. § 12-37.5-104. Notification concerning abortion. Bill Owens (R) was governor, 1999-2006.


2008 – The Colorado Definition of Person Initiative or proposed Amendment 48 to the Colorado Constitution was defeated in the November 2008 election 73.21% against to 26.79% for. This proposed amendment stated, “Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provisions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?” Bill Ritter (D) was governor, 2006-2010.


2022 - HB22-1279 - Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA)

In March, the Democratic-controlled state House and Senate passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, or RHEA, that codified the right to an abortion into state law, making Colorado an oasis of sorts for people seeking abortions. Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law in April.

House Bill 1279 states that "every individual has a fundamental right to make decisions about the individual's reproductive health care, including the fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; a pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion and to make decisions about how to exercise that right; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state."

The law also prohibits local governmental entities from implementing their own restrictions.

Cobalt Advocates, a group that supports access to reproductive health care, including abortion, has been working on a 2024 ballot measure that would enshrine access to abortions in the Colorado Constitution and overturn a state funding ban on abortions. Jared Polis (D) is governor, 2018 - present.

2023 – “Safe Access to Protected Health Care” or RHEA 2.0, a package three bills

On March 9, 2023, the Colorado General Assembly introduced an abortion legislation package referred to as the “Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) 2.0,” a series of bills whose predecessor made Colorado one of the most extreme pro-abortion states in the country. Yet, pro-abortion lawmakers are still pushing for more abortion access, including:

• Eliminating a woman’s choice to sustain her pregnancy and save her child’s life through Abortion Pill Reversal treatment;

• Restricting the good work of Pregnancy Resource Centers for our community;

• Circumventing Colorado’s constitutional prohibition against public funding of abortion;

• Increasing access to contraception and abortion referrals to minors;

• Violating First Amendment rights of medical professionals and hospitals that do not provide abortion-related or “gender affirming care”;

• Violating First Amendment rights of employers who do not provide abortion or “gender affirming care” in their insurance plan.

These bills are being fast-tracked in the Legislature:

1. SB23-188 Protecting Health Care Patients, Providers, and Assistors – limits legal action against patients and providers for abortion and gender-affirming care in other states. If enacted, SB 188 would also contain First Amendment violations, including:

• Restrictions against the ability of medical providers to terminate contracts of employees who violate lawful Ethical Religious Directives by either performing “gender affirming care” (transition surgeries, hormone therapy, etc.) or “abortion related services” (abortion, tubal ligations, etc.). It contains no religious exemption.

• Provisions regarding insurance provider requirements for “gender affirming care.” This is a similar provision to what was in the Obama Admin. Affordable Health Care Act and was subsequently and successfully challenged by Burwell v. Hobby Lobby in 2014 for violating religious liberty.

2. SB23-189 Increasing Access to Reproductive Health Care Services –

If enacted, SB 189 would attempt to circumvent Colorado’s prohibition against public funding of abortion in section 50 of article V of the Colorado Constitution by:

• Requiring for large employer insurance plans to provide coverage for the total cost of an abortion and requiring individual/small group plans to provide abortion coverage if the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services approves it. A religious exemption is not guaranteed but may be determined by the state court system.

• Expanding the state-run “reproductive health-care programto allow minors under the age of 19 years to apply for and enroll themselves in the state-funded “family planning services” and “family planning related services” program, which includes access to contraception and abortion referrals without parental consent.

3. SB23-190 Prohibiting Deceptive Practices at Anti-Abortion Centers -

This bill essentially bans the Abortion Bill Reversal (APR) treatment and advertising by Pregnancy Resource Centers. Jared Polis (D) is governor, 2018 - present.

Colorado Abortion Laws are among the most liberal in the United States. It is one of only eight states (Alaska, Colorado, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and New York) and Washington D.C. that have no term limits on abortion. The only restrictions on abortion in Colorado are: 1) Abortion cannot be covered by insurance policies for public employees (Due to the November 6, 1984 Ballot Initiative and Amendment to the Colorado Constitution), 2) The parent of a minor must be notified before an abortion is provided (Due to the 2003 Colorado Parental Notification Act), and 3) Public funding is available for abortions only in the case of life endangerment to the mother, rape or incest (Again due to the November 6, 1984 Ballot Initiative and Amendment to the Colorado Constitution). Of course, there are exceptions to all these restrictions.

Efforts to ban or restrict abortion in Colorado - since 2008 numerous attempts have been made to ban or restrict abortion. All have failed. The most recent effort, in 2020, was Colorado Proposition 115, also known as the Colorado 22-week Abortion Ban. This proposal to Colorado Statutes said, “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning prohibiting an abortion when the probable gestational age of the fetus is at least twenty-two weeks, and, in connection therewith, making it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine to perform or attempt to perform a prohibited abortion, except when the abortion is immediately required to save the life of the pregnant woman when her life is physically threatened, but not solely by a psychological or emotional condition; defining terms related to the measure including “probable gestational age” and “abortion,” and excepting from the definition of “abortion” medical procedures relating to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy; specifying that a woman on whom an abortion is performed may not be charged with a crime in relation to a prohibited abortion; and requiring the Colorado medical board to suspend for at least three years the license of a licensee whom the board finds performed or attempted to perform a prohibited abortion?” 124,632 valid signatures were required to get this measure on the November 2020 ballot. The measure failed 1,292,787 votes for (41%) to 1,859,479 votes against (59%).


Historical records for Colorado and the U.S., from 1967 to 2020 show:


Live Births in Colorado:

​3,143,253 from 1967 to 2020.

Abortions:

528,878 from 1967 to 2019

17% of Live Births.

​63,600,000 in the United States, 1973-2020.

Highest # of Abortions:

16,642 Abortions – 1984.

1,608,600 in the U.S. in 1990.

Lowest # of Abortions:

3,448 Abortions – In 2000.

862,320 in 2017 in the U.S

Most recent records:

13,420 Abortions in 2020.

930,160 in 2020 in the U.S.

The Gutmacher Institute states there are 23 facilities that provide abortions in Colorado, (down from a high of 73 in 1982). Current facilities performing abortions in Western Colorado are:

1) Planned Parenthood Glenwood Springs 50923 Highway 6 & 24.

2) All Valley Women’s Health Care – Aspen.

3) All Valley Women’s Health Care – Basalt.

4) Planned Parenthood Durango Health Center, 46 Shuttle Street.

5) Colorado Mountain Medical in Avon, 50 Buck Creek Rd. Suite 200.

6) Colorado Mountain Medical in Vail, 103 S. Frontage Rd. W.


While not exactly strictly abortion laws the Colorado legislature passed the following laws concerning offenses against pregnant women:

6/3/2003 – Colorado House Bill 03-1138 AN ACT CONCERNING OFFENSES AGAINST PREGNANT WOMEN THAT AFFECT THEIR UNBORN CHILDREN, AND MAKING AN APPROPRIATION IN CONNECTION THEREWITH. This law in 2003 was passed after 16–year old Manitou Springs woman, Amanda Lynn Hanson, was brutally murdered by Michael Paul Baldwin. Hanson was 3 months pregnant at the time of the murder. The 2003 law increased the penalties for any individual who “unlawfully terminated” the pregnancy of any pregnant woman. This law exclusively addressed conduct that is intentional and does not apply to reckless or careless conduct that results in the termination of a pregnancy. Bill Owens (R) governor, 1999-2007.

6/5/2013 – Colorado House Bill 13-1154 AN ACT CONCERNING CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN.

This law recognized the shortcoming of the 2003 HB 03-1138 – that the perpetrators of those incidents could not be charged with a crime specifically as a consequence of the termination of their victims' pregnancies. Since the 2003 law there were a number of cases throughout Colorado in which pregnant women were injured or killed by reckless or careless conduct, terminating their pregnancies as a result. The 2013 law stated it would hold a person who recklessly or carelessly injures a pregnant woman, and who causes the termination of her pregnancy as a consequence, directly and fully accountable. John Hickenlooper (D) governor 2011-2019.

Guttmacher Institute - was founded in 1968 as the Center for Family Planning Program Development. The Institute’s mission was and is integrating nonpartisan social science research, policy analysis and public education, to provide a factual basis for the development of sound governmental policies and for public consideration of the sensitive issues involved in the promotion of reproductive health and rights. Originally part of the Planned Parenthood Corporation, since 1977 it has been an independent non-profit agency and is no longer directly affiliated with Planned Parenthood, though it shares the same goals. It is located in New York and Washington D.C. with a staff of 100 and a $20 million budget.

Guttmacher Institute’s Assesment of state abortion laws considers 11 different types of restrictions on abortions in their review of abortion laws in the United States. They are:

1) Abortion must be performed by a licensed physician, (40 states).

2) Abortion must be performed at a hospital, if the fetus is at a certain stage of development, (19).

3) Second Physician must participate, if the fetus is at a certain stage of development, (17).

4) Abortion prohibited except in cases of life or health endangerment, if the fetus is at a certain stage of development, (43).

5) Partial-birth abortions are banned, (21).

6) Public-funding of abortions is banned (49 plus D.C.).

7) Private insurance coverage for abortions is limited, (12).

8) Health care providers may refuse to participate in abortions, (45 for Individuals, 42 institutions).

9) Mandated counseling before an abortion is required (for breast cancer link - 5, fetal pain – 13, or negative psychological effects – 8).

10) Waiting period required after counseling before an abortion can be performed, (27).

11) Parental involvement required for minors before an abortion can be performed, (37).

So, this is the status of abortion in Colorado and how we got here. When Democrats start using abortion as a campaign issue, we need to be able to counter it. I believe the following responses need to be made:

  1. Colorado allows abortion at any time of a pregnancy for any or no reason at all.

  2. Abortion numbers are increasing.

  3. Pro-abortion advocates are now trying to eliminate people’s freedom to object to abortion.

I do not believe in unrestricted abortion. However, I do not see how we are going to stop it here in Colorado as long as the Democrats control the Legislature. It is a complex issue – do you completely ban all abortions for all reasons, limit abortions to the first 16 weeks or some other early pregnancy stage or allow all abortions for any and all reasons? We won’t be having that discussion for a very long time, if ever. But we can and should be able to argue that abortion is not being restricted in Colorado in any way, shape or form. In fact, we are likely on the verge of allowing infanticide for any and all reasons. Be informed, be prepared to discuss this issue with knowledge. We need to go beyond the Pro-life or Pro-choice platitudes that tend to minimalize the seriousness of this issue. Finally, if there is another attempt to restrict abortion in Colorado, it will be even more imperative that we discuss the issue with knowledge and not let the pro-abortion people limit the discussions and debates to meaningless clichés.

David Bradford

Chairman, Delta County Republican Central Committee

PS –Remember you can donate to the Delta County Republican Central Committee, by going to our website https://www.deltacoloradogop.com. Since we won’t have the Headquarters open for most of this year, donations are critical in helping build up our bank account so we have funds for supporting our candidates in the 2024 election. An individual donation of $20 is a great small donation. You can also donate in person at our monthly meeting. Our next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, April 4th at the Surface Creek Community Church in Austin. Hope to see you there! Thank you! db


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