In 2019, the last year that data from the CDC was available, more than 170 babies were aborted after 21 weeks gestation in Colorado. Dilation and evacuation abortions are typically used in the second trimester of pregnancy, and result in the crushing of the head and eventual dismemberment of an unborn child.
There is also no waiting period for an abortion in Colorado, and no residency requirement. And although the state requires minors seeking abortions to inform one parent in writing 48 hours prior, parents can’t legally stop their child from getting the abortion.
Since abortion is not currently restricted in Colorado, abortion discrimination based on categories such as sex, race, or disability can take place. The Catholic Conference has warned that the RHEA would continue to permit those kinds of abortions.
No discussion of abortions based on disability in Colorado would be complete without mentioning Warren Hern, an abortionist who has been active in Boulder, Colorado since 1975, and publicly accepts patients seeking late-term abortions from anywhere in the world.
Self-reported statistics show that Hern's clinic performed hundreds of abortions between 1992-2012 on women who were at or past 24 weeks pregnant, including several performed on women between 38 and 39 weeks gestation. Nearly 240 of those late-term abortions were performed on babies with Down syndrome.
If Colorado already allows abortion up to birth, why is this particular bill such a concern?
It would ink into law one of the most permissive abortion laws in the entire country, further lending legitimacy and legal protection to the state’s late-term abortionists.
It would also solidify Colorado as a regional abortion hub, and would prevent pro-life local lawmakers in Colorado from ever restricting abortion in their cities or counties. Although the law could be repealed in the future, Colorado’s current status as a primarily Democratic-led state would make that an uphill battle.
There are other reasons this bill is concerning, pro-life advocates say. If the bill passes, a state court could rule against Colorado’s requirement, passed in 2003, that parents of minors be notified 48 hours before an abortion procedure. Pro-lifers have asked for an amendment to the bill clarifying that it was not intended to remove the state’s parental notification requirement, but no such amendment has been adopted.
Why this bill, and why now?
Because pro-choice Colorado lawmakers believe that federal abortion protections could be threatened in the near future.
(Story continues below)
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The bill’s sponsors cited the upcoming decision from the US Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, whereby the Supreme Court is considering whether Mississippi’s 15-week abortion law is constitutional. Observers say the court’s ruling the case could overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that currently prevents states from prohibiting abortion until roughly 24 weeks of pregnancy.
At least a dozen states across the country have “trigger laws” on the books to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Again, Colorado is now seeking to do the opposite, and remove any ambiguity about the legality of abortion in the state if the protection at the federal level is removed.
In addition, the bill’s sponsors have said they want to avoid a “piecemeal” approach to abortion restrictions within Colorado if Roe v. Wade is overturned, preemptively disallowing individual cities or counties from imposing restrictions on abortion.
The bill has become one of the most controversial bills in Colorado’s modern history. But it’s likely to pass.
On March 14, the Colorado House of Representatives passed the bill by a 40-24 vote, sending it to the Senate. All the votes in favor came from Democrats, and all those opposed from Republicans.
Public engagement with the RHEA began in earnest on March 9, when a public hearing was held on the bill which attracted hundreds of people who voiced their opposition. The committee chairwoman bucked the usual protocol of alternating between witnesses opposed and witnesses against, instead allowing all the witnesses testifying in favor of the bill to speak first, relegating those opposed to the bill to the later hours of the evening.