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Provisional data from 2022 shows 28% of abortions in Colorado were performed on out-of-state residents

Of all the abortions done in Colorado last year, about 17% were on a person who had traveled from Texas
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Posted at 4:37 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 14:11:06-04

DENVER — In the months since the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Colorado has seen a spike in the number of out-of-state residents traveling here to seek an abortion.

Colorado decriminalized abortion care on April 25, 1967, several years before the SCOTUS legalized it nationally in 1973. It was the first state to do so. It remains one of the few states where a late abortion — meaning termination after 22 weeks — can be obtained. Since then, Colorado voters have consistently rejected initiatives to restrict abortions, most recently on Nov. 3, 2020, when voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have prohibited abortion after 22 weeks from the last menstrual period. In early April 2022, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which guarantees abortion access and other reproductive rights in state statute.

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While Coloradans continue to have legal and safe options to abortions, the Roe v. Wade overturning put pressure on clinics offering abortions as people from outside states traveled in.

Jack Teter, policy director at Planner Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said there has been an "enormous increase" in out-of-state patients.

"So, to give you some context, in 2021, there were about 1,500 out of state patients who traveled to Colorado for abortion care," he said. "And in January of this year, just at Planned Parenthood, there were nearly 750 out-of-state patients who traveled. So that the increase in patients is unprecedented."

According to provisional data from 2022, an estimated 13,766 abortions were performed in Colorado. Of those, 9,847 were cases involving Colorado residents and 3,835 were residents from out of state, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Eighty-four cases did not include a residence.

This marked the first time since at least 2004, if not before — and possibly ever — that the percentage of abortions in Colorado on a person who lives outside the state jumped beyond the mid-teen percentage up to 28%. The year prior, 13.6% of all abortions in the state were performed on a nonresident, according to the CDPHE.

The second-highest group of people to receive an abortion in Colorado — aside from Colorado residents — were people from Texas. The 2022 data found that 2,345 abortions were performed on people from Texas, who came to Colorado for the service, according to the CDPHE.

This number was a significant increase from previous years. For example, 10 years ago in Colorado, there were only 11 completed abortions on a person who had traveled up from Texas.

Texas has one of the country's strictest abortion bans, followed closely by Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee. In Texas, a pair of laws ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape or incest. This includes rare exemptions for people at risk of death.

In the post-Roe world, several lawsuits in Texas have erupted from both sides of the issue. In one case, three Texan women are being sued for wrongful death by a man who claimed they helped his ex-wife obtain medication for the abortion. In another lawsuit, five women who were denied abortions when their pregnancies endangered their lives are suing Texas.

People from several other states also fled to Colorado for an abortion in 2022.

Colorado abortions performed on a nonresident saw a giant leap last year compared to previous years for people who live in Oklahoma and Kansas, according to the CDPHE data.

In 2022, about 200 Oklahomans traveled to Colorado for an abortion. This number increased from 13 in 2021, 14 in 2020 and eight in 2019.

A similar pattern happened for Kansas. In Colorado in 2022, 117 abortions were performed on Kansans seeking the service. This number also increased from 33 in 2021 and 2020, and 24 in 2019.

CDPHE's 2022 provisional data looked at several other data points, including the age of the person who terminated their pregnancy.

This was the breakdown by age:

  • Younger than 15: 0.3%
  • 15-17: 3%
  • 18-19: 7.2%
  • 20-24: 31.6%
  • 25-29: 26.9%
  • 30-34: 18.3%
  • 35-39: 9.4%
  • 40-44: 3.1%
  • 45 and up: 0.3%
  • Not stated: 0.2%

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which covers Colorado, New Mexico and Southern Nevada, provides care for about 92,000 people each year. It offers an abortion pill for up to 11 weeks after the start of the last menstrual cycle and in-clinic abortions for up to 22 weeks after the cycle. Both methods are available by appointment only, which can be made online or by calling 303-321-2458.

There are Colorado Planned Parenthood locations in Arvada, Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Cortez, Park Hill, Denver, Durango, Fort Collins, Glenwood Springs, Greeley, Littleton, Salida, and Steamboat Springs.

Abortions are also available at many other medical clinics statewide. Click here for the Abortion Finder.

According to the Colorado Judicial Branch, a person under the age of 18 seeking an abortion can obtain one with or without parental or guardian permission. The court's website outlines the necessary steps and paperwork. Planned Parenthood offers help for teens who are struggling to talk to their parents.

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