With no pro-life laws, Colorado sees abortion numbers spike

Colorado Colorado State Capitol Building in Denver. | Shutterstock

A new study has shown that the number of abortions in Colorado has spiked, in part because more women come from out of state seeking to procure abortions. 

While Catholic ministries and charities continue to help pregnant women in Colorado, the state Legislature could be poised to introduce legislation that would further increase the number of abortions.

Between April and August the number of abortions increased by 33% in Colorado, from 1,450 in April to 1,940 in August, the Society of Family Planning said in its Oct. 28 publication called the “#WeCount Report.” The Society of Family Planning bills itself as “the source for abortion and contraception science.”

The study does not claim to have counted all abortions in Colorado. Rather, it estimates that reported abortion numbers fell short of the actual number by under 10%. The report overall relied on a mixture of reporting and estimates, including a database of abortion providers. About 79% of identified providers across the U.S. agreed to participate, and the report estimated this counted 82% of all abortions provided in the U.S.

Brittany Vessely, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, said abortion-reporting numbers should be taken “with a grain of salt,” in part because there is no streamlined, mandatory reporting process. The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion research organization aligned with the abortion industry, reports that abortion figures for Colorado are 40% higher than figures from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Unfortunately, it is likely the numbers reported by #WeCount are woefully less than the reality for both surgical, induced abortion and chemical abortion in the Centennial State,” Vessely told CNA Nov. 7.

Colorado showed the third-largest percentage increase in abortion of any state, behind North Carolina and Kansas, which respectively saw a 37% and a 36% increase in abortion numbers. According to the #WeCount report, Colorado’s percentage increase in abortions was larger than that of Illinois, where abortions increased by 28%.

In 2021 there were 62,900 babies born in Colorado, according to a provisional briefing from the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Vital Statistics System.

The #WeCount Report found a 32% decrease in the number of abortions in states where abortion was restricted. At the same time, the group recorded an increase of 11% in the number of abortions in states where abortion was legal.

According to the report, there were 5,270 fewer abortions in July and 5,400 fewer in August, meaning more than 10,000 unborn babies are alive today because of abortion restrictions.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, which overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, returned abortion law to the states after almost 50 years of federal precedent requiring states to allow legal abortion. While some state laws now limit or ban abortion, Colorado only bans public funds for most abortions. It generally requires parental notification when a minor has an abortion. In 2020, voters rejected a proposed ban on abortion after 22 weeks into pregnancy.

Earlier this year Colorado lawmakers passed a strongly pro-abortion law that stripped all rights from the unborn child. The state’s 2022 Reproductive Health Equity Act, Vessely said, “codifies abortion for the full 40 weeks of pregnancy, removes individual and derivative rights from pre-born children at all stages of development and enshrines abortion as a ‘fundamental right’ in Colorado law, with the express purpose to make Colorado a ‘safe haven’ for women seeking abortion from other states.”

“The spike in the numbers from the #WeCount Report is expected,” she said.

“The Colorado Catholic Conference is preparing for more pro-life battles ahead,” she added. She expects that pro-abortion rights legislators will seek to expand the number of abortionists and financially support abortionists who seek to move to Colorado from out of state.

“This will undoubtedly also increase the number of abortions in Colorado, if successful,” Vessely said.

Demand for abortions increased to the point that women seeking an abortion in Colorado had to wait for 23 days, a period that has declined to two weeks as abortion clinics add more staff, the Denver Post reported. Dr. Benedict Landgren, an OB-GYN who specializes in late-term abortions, told the Denver Post that abortion infrastructure needs to expand and new clinics need to open.

Dr. Kristina Tocce of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said 38% of women who had abortions in the region sought abortion out of their home state, compared with 11% before the Dobbs decision and Texas’ heartbeat-based abortion ban took effect.

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The Colorado-based abortion advocacy group Cobalt, a former affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America, helps pay for abortions and other expenses. Its caseload tripled when Roe v. Wade fell. About two-thirds of its beneficiaries are from Texas. Its abortion fund typically spends $200,000 per year. So far this year, it has spent $371,000 to fund abortions in Colorado for more than 1,000 women, plus another $187,000 in travel support.

The #WeCount Report, which supports abortion, credits abortion access for reducing women’s negative outcomes in economic security, poorer physical health, and exposure to intimate partner violence.

Vessely said Catholic entities and others are still working to help women at risk of seeking an abortion.

“Most parishes have their own pro-life ministries, and all three Colorado dioceses continue to operate several pregnancy centers and ministries that care for women and families prenatal and postnatal,” Vessely said. “For example, the Archdiocese of Denver’s Catholic Charities provides a continuum of care for more than 2,000 clients annually; the Diocese of Pueblo hosts 19 Caring Pregnancy Centers that serve over 1,500 families annually; and the Diocese of Colorado Springs supports Life Network’s pregnancy centers and is building a new Maternity Home, Mater Filius, that will house and support pregnant and homeless moms.”

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