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On 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade decision, abortion debate continues

Supreme Court overturned Roe last summer, shifting debate back to the states
Posted at 3:41 PM, Jan 22, 2023

DENVER – Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.

The high court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, but the debate and fallout continue to play out in state capitols across the country, including in Colorado.

Seven months have passed since the Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion and sent the issue back to the states.

The Guttmacher Institute, which tracks abortion policies, says 24 states have either banned or will likely ban abortion.

But abortion remains legal in Colorado, which has become a refuge for people from other states who are seeking abortions.

On 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade decision, abortion debate continues

Last year, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act into law, increasing abortion protections by prohibiting state or local public entities from “denying, restricting, interfering with, or discriminating against” someone seeking an abortion.

According to the Society of Family Planning, Colorado saw a 33% increase in abortions last year, driven in large part by people traveling from states where abortion is banned or severely restricted.

Dr. Kristina Tacce is the chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

“Anybody who can get to us, we will care for,” Tacce said.

She says since Roe was overturned, they’ve seen a surge of patients coming to Colorado.

“We have seen approximately 37% of our patients that we see now in Colorado are from out of state, and this month alone across our agency we have seen over 400 patients from out of state,” Tacce said. “People are traveling they are traveling tremendous distances and having to overcome so many barriers to access a basic aspect of healthcare.”

Because Colorado is seen as a refuge for those seeking an abortion, some state lawmakers have talked about expanding access and doing more to protect abortion providers from lawsuits.

This weekend, on what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Women’s March held “Bigger Than Roe” rallies across the country in support of reproductive rights.

Anti-abortion groups also held demonstrations this weekend, including a March for Life on Friday.

In Colorado, anti-abortion groups like Colorado Right to Life vow to continue their mission to make abortion illegal.

“Slavery was legal, but that didn't make it right. The same goes for abortion,” said Will Duffy, the president of Colorado Right to Life.

The group protested outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Denver this weekend.

Duffy called the overturning of Roe “historic,” but said the fight was far from finished.

“Abortion is the intentional killing of a unique human being and killing an innocent person, even if it's before they are born, is wrong no matter what the law says,” Duffy said. “So, abortion must be stopped.”

There were 11,580 abortions performed in Colorado in 2021, about 1,700 more than the previous year, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The number of abortions in Colorado has increased every year since 2016.

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