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Colorado advances bills to expand abortion access

Colorado law book held by man

Yuriy K | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 03/31/23

The package of three bills, expected to pass the through the state House, would broaden availibility of abortion services to minors, while limiting pro-life pregnancy centers.

The Colorado state Senate has passed a package of three bills that would simultaneously expand abortion access in the state, while placing greater limitations on pro-life resource centers. Referred to as “Safe Access to Protected Health Care,” the package is now headed to the state House, where it is expected to pass into law. 

According to Denver Catholic, which broke down the package by each of its three bills, the new laws will eliminate access to abortion pill reversal treatment and provide minors with easier access to abortion referrals. They also will place strict limitations on pro-life pregnancy centers’ ability to advertise.

SB23-190 Prohibiting Deceptive Practices at Anti-Abortion Centers

The first bill is concerned with two areas: abortion pill reversal treatment, and pregnancy center advertisement. The new law would eliminate the option for a pregnant woman to elect for treatment to reverse the abortion pill, if she should change he mind. Since the Supreme Court overturned Dobbs last June, the abortion pill has become a popular method of terminating a pregnancy. 

The method of reversing the abortion pill requires the patient to take progesterone, a naturally occurring hormone that has been prescribed by doctors for years as a means of mitigating the risk of pregnancy loss. With no recorded adverse effects to the mother or child, progesterone is a safe means of ensuring viability. Progesterone counteracts the abortion pill by leveling out and restoring hormone levels necessary to carry a pregnancy to term. 

SB23-189 Increasing Access to Reproductive Health Care Services

This bill attempts to circumvent Colorado law that prohibits public funding to be allocated towards abortion. It will require employers to provide a large enough health insurance plan to cover the total cost of an employee’s abortion. Even small businesses would be required to cover the complete cost if approval is granted by the federal HHS. The bill contains no stipulations for religious exemption. 

Brittany Vessely, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, explained to CNA that this bill is a means of working around a Colorado state constitutional amendment that prohibits public funds from being put towards abortion. She said: 

“If enacted, [this bill] would circumvent Colorado’s prohibition against public funding of abortion in the Colorado Constitution by requiring large employer insurance plans to provide coverage for the total cost of an abortion and requiring individual [and] small-group plans to provide abortion coverage.” Vessely added, “Insurance funding does contain public funding.”

Furthermore, SB23-189 will expand the state’s reproductive health program to allow minors under the age of 19 to apply to the state’s “family-planning services.” Those minors who enroll in the program can seek and receive contraception as well as abortion referrals. These services will be offered to minors without the requirement of parental notification. 

SB23-188 Protecting Health Care Patients, Providers, and Assistors

The third and final bill prohibits healthcare providers, including Catholic hospitals, from terminating employees who violate lawful Ethical Religious Directives. These include performing “gender affirming care,” such as transgender surgeries or hormone therapies, as well as abortion related services. Once again the bill contains no language that would allow for religious exemptions. 

Read more at Denver Catholic.

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