Governor Jared Polis (D) appeared on CNN’s State of the Union alongside Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) on July 23 to discuss the political divide in the country. Cox, who omitted any mention of LGBTQ people in his 2023 Pride month declaration and in March signed a bill into law banning abortion clinics in Utah, ostensibly stood in contrast to Polis, who is the chief executive of a state with robust LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections and legal protections for abortions. The interview was focused on how to foster bipartisanship and find common ground between America’s disparate political identities.
When asked how Americans could “disagree better,” Polis used abortion as an example.
“You start with a common ground,” he said. “On something like abortion choice, Democrats don’t believe that abortion is good. We believe it’s bad, and it should be minimized. How do you prevent unwanted pregnancies? What techniques do you use to make sure people are empowered with the information they need to not become pregnant unless they choose. How do they get good medical care so they don’t face difficult decisions midway through their pregnancy? There’s common ground there and we can have a constructive discussion about how families can be healthier, how people can be happier. It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree on every part of a difficult and challenging issue, but at least you can have a conversation at a better level.”
First reported by Complete Colorado, Polis’ remarks are at odds with his actions as governor, signing into law 2022’s Reproductive Health Equity Act, which enshrines the right to an abortion in Colorado law, and this year’s “Safe Access to Protected Health Care” package of legislation. His remarks are also at odds with the attitudes of most pro-abortion advocates.
“As Colorado’s oldest abortion rights organization, Cobalt strongly believes abortion is good and abortion is health care,” said Laura Chapin, a Cobalt spokesperson, in an email. “We also strongly believe we need to increase abortion access and reduce stigma.”
The Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive rights (COLOR), said in news release:
“Coloradans have voted time and time again to protect access to abortion care because access to any form of healthcare is more than just good policy, it is great policy. Voters in our state have successfully defeated over 44 attempts to ban or restrict abortion at the General Assembly since 2010 and 4 attempts at the ballot box since 2008. In 2020, Coloradans resoundingly voted against Prop 115, which would have set gestational limits for people seeking abortion care beyond 22 weeks. For Latinos, protecting and expanding access to abortion care was a key motivator for turning out to vote during the midterm elections in 2022. In our Colorado Latino Policy Agenda, we found that 68% of Latinos we polled support policies that ensure state residents have access to safe abortion and reproductive health.
“As recently as this Tuesday, we saw that Ohioans turned out to vote in record numbers during a special election to reject a measure that would make it harder to change the state’s constitution, a response to the abortion bans that have been enacted across the country after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year. Coloradans, just like Ohioans, know that protecting a person’s right to choose and seek abortion care is a fundamental right.
“For over two decades, COLOR has ensured that our work centers Latinx individuals and that their families are able to access opportunities and resources for the health of their minds, bodies, and spirits, including access to reproductive healthcare from family planning services to abortion. Every pregnancy is unique and no one can possibly know another person’s circumstances when it comes to terminating a pregnancy. This is why it is paramount to protect the right to choose at all costs.
“We are disappointed to hear the Governor of our state, who has signed multiple bills protecting a Coloradan’s right to choose and access abortion care, such as our bill known as the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), would tell the media that abortion is bad. Coloradans support abortion. A majority of Americans believe that abortion should be protected. Our policy work not only proves it but ensures it. COLOR remains steadfast in our mission to protect the Latinx community and their reproductive health care needs.”
Natasha Berwick, the political director for New Era Colorado, echoed Chapin and COLOR’s concerns. “Abortion is safe and good,” she said in an emailed statement. “Young people, who are the largest voting bloc in Colorado, agree. In a March 2021 survey by the COMS Project and Advocates for Youth, 70% of adults under 30 years old said abortion should be legal. Governor Jared Polis’ campaign platform states that he ‘is focused…. on protecting our right to choose.’ Young people elected him because we believed he would champion everyone’s freedom to make decisions about their own bodies. His recent comments confuse us; has his stance changed? We hope the Governor can clarify the intent behind his words. At New Era Colorado, we believe abortion is safe and good. One in four people have had an abortion and everyone knows someone who has had one. No matter the reason, everyone should have the freedom to make decisions about their bodies and their future.”
The Governor’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment, but the Colorado Democratic Party’s platform does provide some basis for Polis’ remarks. The Party’s health care section of their platform, regarding reproductive rights, states:
“1. Colorado guarantees a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any effort to weaken or undermine that right, including limiting funding of essential female reproductive health services. It is important to continue to offer education and family planning services, which have been effective in reducing abortion rates in Colorado.
“2. Significantly reduce the need for abortion by eliminating financial and access barriers to contraceptive service and pre- and post-natal care, providing comprehensive reproductive education, and funding nutrition and affordable childcare.”