The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade, has had the unintended consequence of potentially turning federal elections into referenda on abortion. Without the federal protections of Roe, a future Republican majority could pass a national abortion ban.
Abortion bans in states like Texas and Oklahoma have led to an influx of patients for Colorado abortion providers. In December, Texas came under national scrutiny due to the case of Kate Cox, who was prevented from attaining an abortion by Texas Attorney Ken Paxton after she was diagnosed with an unviable pregnancy. Cox was ultimately forced to leave to state to receive care.
“What is taking place in Texas is horrific and deeply sad,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis in a social media post. “A person’s individual choice should be left to them — not politicians who are obsessed with taking away freedom.”
In Idaho, restrictive abortion laws are leading to an exodus of OBGYNs from the state, reducing the availability of maternity care of pregnant women.
The success of pro-abortion ballot measures in California, Michigan, Vermont, and most recently in conservative-leaning Ohio demonstrate the electoral impact of abortion on voters.
Pro-abortion activists in Colorado are collecting signatures for the “Right to Abortion” ballot measure, Prop 89, to appear on the November ballot, while anti-abortion activists are hoping to get the “Protections for a Living Child” initiative on the ballot. Prior to the November election, Republicans in Colorado’s red-leaning congressional districts — CD3, CD4, CD5, and CD8 — will choose from a selection of candidates with differing views on how abortion should be treated at the federal and state level.
Russ Andrews, a former conservative radio commentator from Carbondale, told the Colorado Times Recorder in November 2023, “Every woman deserves access to the highest quality health care,” said Andrews in an email. “I believe in the sanctity of life. Abortions should be safe, legal and (extremely) rare.”
Jeff Hurd, a Grand Junction attorney, told the Montrose Press in September 2023 that he views abortion as “primarily a state issue.”
Stephen Varela, a member of the Colorado State Board of Education, told the Colorado Times Recorder in May 2022, during his bid for the Colorado Senate, said of Colorado’s Reproductive Health Equity Act, “I think we have to look at it from a perspective of health, and looking at the female’s perspective of health and what is best for the mom and the baby,” he said. “I don’t think one way or the other right now is right or wrong. I just think we have to really focus and understand what we’re doing and if it is the right thing.”
Ron Hanks, a former Colorado Representative, attacked Republican Joe O’Dea for his position on abortion during their U.S. Senate primary race in 2022. “I was part of the fight against that miserable bill [RHEA] in the State House,” Hanks told Dan Caplis. “In fact, it was the longest fight in Colorado history. That is a bad bill- it passed anyway. But we fought for over 24 hours to push back against what we think is truly abominable legislation. And truth to tell, my opponent in this race [O’Dea] has positioned himself further left than any current US senator. I mean, even Romney, Collins and Murkowski did not vote to codify Roe v. Wade. So this is significant. I’m grateful for the chance to build this distinction here. It’s important for the voters of Colorado.”
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who recently switched races from CD3 to CD4, has long opposed abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Last June, Boebert joined U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) as a cosponsor of House Resolution 464, which “Acknowledg[es] that unborn children are legal and constitutional persons who are entitled to the equal protection of the laws.” And she’s repeatedly praised Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) for blocking hundreds of military promotions to protest the Defense Department’s abortion policy, most recently saying he had “some righteous reasons.”
Former Colorado Senators Ted Harvey and Jerry Sonnenberg said during a candidate forum last month that they also support a federal abortion ban. “It’s not a state’s rights issue,” said Harvey. “It’s a human rights issue. No state has the right to take the life of an unborn child. We are created by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We get our inalienable rights from the creator. It appalls me that five people on that stage said we shouldn’t protect it at the federal level. My God, we are Republicans. We should be better.”
Sonnenberg said he would support a federal ban that begins at 20 weeks or so.
Colorado Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron), who describes himself as a “a pro-life Catholic” opposes a federal abortion ban, describing it as a state’s issue.
Former Colorado Representative and current Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams has been a consistent opponent of abortion. In 2022, Williams sponsored an abortion abolition bill which would have defined abortion as “prenatal homicide.”
During an April, 2022 “Rally to Resist Roe,” Williams discussed the 12-hour committee hearing for his bill. “I told the committee members that day — all of them, Republican and Democrat — that whatever happens in this life, whatever actions I take not just as a legislator but as a human being, I’ll have to give an account,” he said. “There will be a day of judgment, and I will have to explain to the Lord how I treated all of you, all of my neighbors, how I fought on this issue. Knowing that, how the Lord is going to be questioning me, and how I want to hear, on that day, ‘Enter in, thou good and faithful servant,’ I felt compelled that I had no other choice but to fight for the unborn.”
Colorado Rep. Gabe Evans (R-Ft. Lupton) opposes a federal abortion ban. “We have to have the wisdom to come up with policies that best preserve life,” said Evans during a January candidate forum. “And I think that the Supreme Court rightly decided this case that it is now up to the legislatures and to the voters of Colorado to figure out how they are going to best protect life. We need to stand for life. We need to stand for our most vulnerable. That’s the babies. But that’s also the women in these terrible life situations that I worked with for 10 years as a police officer. So I think this is up to the state legislatures, and I will always stand for life.”
Weld County Commissioner Scott James also opposes a federal abortion ban. “I believe that life begins at conception,” he said. “I also believe in the proper role of government. The pro-life movement fought for 50 years to overturn Roe v. Wade. When the Dobbs decision was handed down Roe v. Wade was overturned and it rightly handed one of the most contentious issues back to the governments that are closest to you. It belongs at the state legislature. It belongs with the people.”
Like Evans and James, Air Force veteran Joe Andujo also opposes a federal abortion ban. “I am pro-life, and I have always been pro-life,” said Andujo. “When the Supreme Court sent abortion back to the states, that’s where it should have been all along. As a congressman in the United States Congress, I will not deal with that. But I would not support anything to allow the Democrats or anybody to end the life of a child.”
Former Colorado Rep. Janak Joshi, like Williams, introduced a fetal homicide bill in 2013. At the time, Joshi argued that his bill was inspired by cases where drunken drivers and other criminals injured mothers and killed their unborn children, and was not an attempt at a “personhood” measure, which would grant legal rights to fetuses.