Multiple pieces of legislation seeking to limit access to abortion have been proposed in Colorado’s General Assembly, driving reproductive rights advocates to plan a rally in opposition at the Capitol Thursday.
Hearings to decide the fate of the anti-abortion legislation will also take place on Thursday, one regarding a bill (HB18-1225) that would impose a ban on abortions beginning at conception, making exceptions only for saving the life of the mother and abortions resulting from chemotherapy and ectopic pregnancies.
Notably, this does not include exceptions for rape or incest, or to preserve the health of the mother. The ban would also extend to emergency contraceptives.
And, in referring to a fetus as an “unborn child,” the bill inserts so-called “personhood” language into Colorado law, which confers individual legal rights to fetuses and fertilized human eggs, also called zygotes.
Advocates argue the bill, which is essentially an outright ban on abortion, violates the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision is therefore unconstitutional.
A second bill (HB18-1082), which also includes personhood language and is considered by advocates to be unconstitutional, places oversight for abortion providers in the hands of the Attorney General, rather than the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and legally requires doctors to impose several medically unnecessary barriers on the procedure.
This includes mandatory ultrasounds and 24-hour waiting periods between the time a woman seeks an abortion and the time she gets the procedure.
Waiting periods force women to make multiple trips to their healthcare provider, posing logistical challenges and extra costs, like those related to child care and taking time off work. This disproportionately affects low-income women and women of color, in addition to women who live in rural communities, who must travel long distances and potentially pay for lodging to get the care they need.
Doctors would also be required to give scientifically unsubstantiated information to patients, including informing them of a potentially risky “abortion reversal method,” which hasn’t been approved by the FDA, false information about psychological and other health risks associated with abortion, and a description of the fetus’ ability to feel pain, for which there is no scientific consensus.
The Women’s Reproductive Information Guarantee for Health and Transparency (RIGHT) Act has been proposed yearly in the state legislature since 2015, despite being repeatedly struck down by Democrats.
Opponents have now dubbed the legislation the Women’s Rights Obliterated Now (WRONG) Act.
Some of those opponents include ProgressNow Colorado’s Alex Ferencz and Victoria Betancourt of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), both of whom plan to speak at the rally about the importance of abortion care in their personal lives and how the proposed legislation harms women like themselves.
The WRONG Act hits close to home for Ferencz, who resided in Arizona at the time she sought an abortion, where many of the restrictions Colorado Republicans are currently proposing have been in effect, like waiting periods and mandatory ultrasounds.
Betancourt plans to talk about how women of color often face extra barriers when it comes to accessing reproductive care, and how the extra hurdles Colorado Republicans are proposing will disproportionately affect low-income women, immigrant communities, and those with disabilities.
The rally will take place tomorrow at 12:15 in the North Foyer of the Capitol, with bill hearings beginning at 1:30.