DENVER – With the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years after the decision, Colorado is preparing for more people to come to the state for abortions and other reproductive care because it is protected by state law here.
Colorado saw a fairly large increase in the number of abortions performed in the state in 2021 as well as an increase in the number of people coming from other states to get an abortion. More than a dozen states are likely to effectively outlaw abortion in the wake of the court’s decision, and some already have.
Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment details the increase, including a state-by-state breakdown on where the most people are coming from to get abortions in Colorado.
There were 11,580 abortions performed in Colorado in 2021 – 1,711 more than the year prior. The number of abortions in Colorado has increased every year since 2016, when 8,333 abortions were performed – the lowest number since 2002.
The last time as many abortions were performed in Colorado was in 2009, when 11,598 got abortions.
But those numbers are still far lower than the number of abortions performed in the 1970s and ‘80s after the Roe v. Wade decision was made in January 1973.
By 1979, more than 16,000 abortions were performed every year in Colorado – a trend that continued until 1985, when it dipped to 15,533 and continued to drop until 2002, bottoming out at 4,215 abortions performed in the year 2000 in Colorado.
Colorado decriminalized abortion care in 1967, six years before the Roe v. Wade decision, and 13,898 abortions were performed in the state from 1967 through 1972.
Over the last five years, Colorado has seen the share of abortions performed on people coming from out of state increased nearly every year:
2017: 8,873 total — 1,000 from out of state (11.3%)
2018: 8,973 total — 1,032 from out of state (11.6%)
2019: 9,001 total — 946 from out of state (10.6%)
2020: 9,869 total — 1,283 from out of state (13%)
2021: 11,580 total — 1,560 from out of state (13.6%)
In 2021, 86.4% of abortions in Colorado were performed on Colorado residents. Other states where people came from to get abortions include: Wyoming (414), Texas (400), New Mexico (189), South Dakota (145), Nebraska (104), Utah (54), Kansas (33), California (23), Louisiana (21), Florida (20), Illinois (15), Oklahoma (13).
Texas's new abortion law took effect on Sept. 1, 2021.
There are several other states across the country people came from to get abortions in Colorado, though all of them had fewer than 10 people come here for the procedure.
The vast majority of abortions for Colorado residents take place along the Front Range metro areas, which correlates with the state’s population concentrations. Following the Front Range were the largest population centers in northern, southern and western Colorado.
In 2021, the counties where the most abortions were performed were: Denver (1,176), El Paso (1,030), Arapahoe (944), Adams (722), Jefferson (628), Weld (406), Boulder (367), Larimer (361), Douglas (213), Pueblo (160), Garfield (128) and Mesa (112).
Eighty-seven percent of people who got abortions in 2021 involved people ages 20-39. Another 7% involved people ages 18-19.
Nearly 87% of abortions performed in Colorado last year involved pregnancies that were estimated at 10 weeks or less of gestation. Another 8.3% were performed between 11-15 gestational weeks. Just 1.5% of abortions in Colorado were performed after 20 weeks of gestation.