DENVER — Colorado abortion rights groups officially kicked off a campaign aimed at getting abortion protections enshrined into the state’s constitution.
Nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion is illegal or severely restricted in nearly half of the states. Colorado is one of the states where it remains legal.
“Colorado has been a leader in protecting reproductive health care, including access to abortion going all the way back to the 60s,” said Karen Middleton, the president of Cobalt, which provides financial assistance to people seeking abortions.
Middleton said since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Colorado has seen a dramatic increase in women from other states traveling here to get abortions.
“We're seeing people who are desperate, without options, and having to travel long distances to come to Colorado,” said Middleton.
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Though most of the politicians who control the state government support abortion rights, including the governor and a majority of state lawmakers, Middleton said nothing is guaranteed to last forever.
“With the change in political winds, we could always lose that right here in Colorado,” said Middleton. “Affirming that right in the Constitution is very important.”
On Monday, on what would have been the 51st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, pro-choice groups gathered at the Colorado State Capitol to formally launch a new campaign.
They’re seeking to get a measure — Proposed Initiative 89 — on the ballot this November. It would amend the state’s constitution to guarantee abortion access. In addition, the measure would repeal the state’s 40-year ban on the use of taxpayer money to pay for abortions.
“The state ban on funding abortion care hurts people who are already struggling and people that we rely on every day for our public services,” said Dr. Rebecca Cohen, an OBGYN and abortion provider. "What this means is that anyone with state-funded insurance [like] teachers, firefighters, government employees, and people with Medicaid insurance coverage cannot use their insurance to pay for abortion care."
The groups have until April to collect over 124,000 signatures for the measure to qualify for November's ballot.
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Colorado voters could see two competing ballot measures this November. Anti-abortion groups are currently collecting signatures for their own initiative.
Proposed Initiative 81 would ban all abortions in Colorado and allow prosecutors to charge providers who perform abortions with homicide.