Colorado women join others across the country to 'stop the bans' in wake of anti-abortion bills

Posted at 6:33 PM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 20:37:13-04

DENVER -- Demonstrators in three Colorado cities on Tuesday held rallies along with people across the country to protest recent bans on abortion.

Five states have passed fetal heartbeat bills so far this year, limiting the amount of time women have to seek an abortion. Last week, Alabama’s governor signed its abortion ban bill into law.

Alabama’s law is the most restrictive ban in the nation and only allows for an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected if the mother’s life is in danger. The law does not accommodate for cases of rape or incest.

Alabama is joined by Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia in passing similar bills this year limiting abortions. Numerous other states either attempted or are currently debating bills to limit abortions as well.

The protests come on the same day that a federal judge in Mississippi listened to oral arguments over its fetal heartbeat legislation.

In Fort Collins, about 50 demonstrators gathered outside of Planned Parenthood to show their opposition to abortion bans.

“It’s one state now, two states next, it could happen federally,” said Kaite Cunningham. “We’re going to fight back; we’re not going to let this happen.”

Cunningham drove to Fort Collins from Wyoming to participate in the protest and said that while she has access to birth control and health insurance, she knows many others are not as lucky, so she sees it as her duty to up for other women.

In Boulder, about 75 demonstrators gathered in front of the courthouse to speak out about their concerns with the new limits on abortions.

“These old white guys, they don’t get this choice. We have to fight them every inch of the way,” said Shel Gerding. “It goes way past reproductive rights, it’s very fundamental to treating women like a human being and not as a vessel to be producing more men and if we don’t fight that we’re going to be going back in time.”

Others were worried about challenges to these new laws making their way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“My fear is that if Roe v. Wade faces a legal challenge and loses that legal challenge, any state is going to be able to form their own legislation regarding abortion,” said Theresa Clark.

She wants the Democratic party to support more female candidates so that women have more of a voice in local, state and federal affairs.

Meanwhile, the communications director for the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center says the limits on abortions in other states are starting to have an effect in Colorado.

Lisa Radelet says her clinic has started to see more abortion patients from other states where access is limited, including Wyoming, Nebraska and Utah.

“The problem with these kinds of bans is that they disproportionately impacted low-income, poor women of color who are already have a hard time accessing healthcare, and for them to have to then come up with money for travel expenses on top of the cost of a procedure, it really makes abortion prohibitive for them,” Radelet said.

She, too, is worried that the current justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will choose to overturn Roe v. Wade if it comes to that point.

“I think that’s a possibility, so it’s even more important for state laws to be in place to protect the rights of the women,” Radelet said.

However, some pro-life groups sent statements to Denver7 saying this is about protecting life, not limiting women’s rights.

"None of today's abortion "bans" are bans. Like Roe v. Wade, they're all child-killing regulations. Abortion is wrong because it's a baby, and it's always wrong to intentionally kill a baby, and that's because children are made in God's image and God said, 'Do not kill the innocent,'" said Bob Enyart, the spokesman for the Colorado Right to Life group.

However, Enyart said Colorado Right to Life doesn’t support current state efforts to restrict abortions. Instead, the group only supports moves to abolish abortions altogether.

Other pro-life groups are closely watching how states are handling things like fetal heartbeat bills and are supporting the efforts of some lawmakers.

“We believe that every child – both born and pre-born – is deserving of life and protection under law. Those who are rallying today in opposition to recent pro-life legislation represent an extremist point of view. That’s because an overwhelming majority of Americans support limitation and restriction on abortion. We applaud those who continue to stand up and speak out for the most innocent among us,” said Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family.

If a federal judge does not intervene and the laws are enacted as currently planned, Mississippi’s law will go into effect on July 1, Alabama’s law will go into effect in November and Georgia’s will start on January 1, 2020.