Colorado Governor Jared Polis released a statement condemning Texas’ abortion laws and the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who threatened hospitals with legal action should they perform an abortion for Kate Cox, who was diagnosed with an unviable pregnancy. 

“What is taking place in Texas is horrific and deeply sad. A person’s individual choice should be left to them — not politicians who are obsessed with taking away freedom,” said Polis in a social media post yesterday.

Texas law prohibits physicians from performing abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which went into effect following the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, but there are narrow exceptions to save the life or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function” of a pregnant patient. Cox initially received permission from Texas courts to end her unviable pregnancy after it was discovered that the fetus had a genetic abnormality, trisomy 18, which causes physical growth delays during fetal development. Life expectancy for children diagnosed with trisomy 18 is short due to several life-threatening complications of the condition. Children who survive past their first year may face severe intellectual challenges.

Judge Maya Guerra Gamble noted in her temporary restraining order (TRO) that Cox had visited three emergency rooms and that her medical history posed additional risks in continuing the pregnancy. Following the granting of the TRO, Paxton sent letters to three Houston-area hospitals, warning them, “The TRO will not insulate you, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws, including first degree felony prosecutions and civil penalties of not less than $100,000 for each violation.”

The Texas Supreme Court ruled against Cox, forcing her to flee the state to obtain an abortion. Since the Dobbs decision, Colorado abortion providers and abortion funds have seen an exponential increase in demand from out-of-state patients.

“Here in Colorado, we value freedom and individual choice, and we have taken important steps in partnership with Colorado’s legislature to protect access to abortion, provider safety, and every person’s ability to make their own healthcare decisions,” said Polis. “The government should not get between a doctor and their patient.” 

Just months before the Dobbs decision Colorado passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which enshrines the right to an abortion in Colorado law. Following the Dobbs decision, Polis signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies and departments, unless “pursuant to a court order,” from providing “information or data, including patient medical records, patient-level data, or related billing information, or expend time, money, facilities, property, equipment, personnel, or other resources to assist or further any investigation or proceeding initiated in or by another state that seeks to impose criminal or civil liability or professional sanction upon a person or entity for conduct that would be legal in Colorado related to providing, assisting, seeking, or obtaining reproductive health care.”

Sen. Janice Marchman (D-Loveland) during a March press conference about the “Safe Access to Protected Health Care” legislation.

Earlier this year, Colorado Democrats passed the “Safe Access to Protected Health Care” package of legislation which targets the marketing practices of anti-abortion centers and their use of an unproven pill to reverse an abortion, expand legal protections for patients and providers seeking reproductive and gender-affirming health care, and expand insurance coverage for those seeking reproductive health care.

Senate Bill 23-190, which bans the use of abortion pill reversal, is currently facing a legal challenge from Catholic clinic Bella Health and Wellness, but this year three state medical boards moved to not designate abortion reversal treatments an “accepted medical practice,” which increases the likelihood that the law will stand.

“While some leaders around the country want to strip away rights and insert the government into people’s personal decisions, Colorado is proud to be a place that continues increasing access and allowing people to make their own choice about how and when to begin their families,” said Polis.