DENVER – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Wednesday that says the state will not cooperate with other states’ investigations into people who received abortions or reproductive health care in Colorado and protects people working here from being disciplined for performing such services.
Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act earlier this year to codify abortion and other reproductive health care into state statute, and the sponsors of that bill hope to run a constitutional ballot measure in 2024 to enshrine abortion access into the state constitution, but some have been asking Polis to push further in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs which effectively overturned Roe v. Wade and allowed states to outlaw abortion access.
“No one who is lawfully providing, assisting, seeking, or obtaining reproductive health care in Colorado should be subject to legal liability or processional sanctions in Colorado or any other state, nor will Colorado cooperate with criminal or civil investigations for actions that are fully legal in our state,” the governor’s executive order says.
“This executive order ensures that all Coloradans are afforded protections and rights under Colorado law and directs state agencies and departments managed by governor-appointed executives to protect access to reproductive health care in Colorado within their authority under the law,” it adds.
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The order goes on to say that unless it is pursuant to a court order, state agencies and departments shall not cooperate with any investigation by another state regarding anything protected by Colorado law regarding reproductive health care.
It also directs state agencies and departments to “pursue opportunities and coordinate with each other to protect people and entities who are providing, assisting, seeking, or obtaining reproductive health care in Colorado.”
And the executive order directs the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) to issue rules to ensure no person’s license is disciplined or disqualified for assisting with reproductive health care or as a result of a civil or criminal judgment or discipline if the care provided was lawful.
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Polis wrote in his order he would “exercise the full extent of my discretion” to decline requests for arrests or extraditions charged with a criminal violation in another state “unless the acts forming the basis of the prosecution of the crime charged would also constitute a criminal offense under Colorado law.”
There have been several protests at the state Capitol in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision urging Polis to do anything he could to further secure abortion access in Colorado as the state faces a likely influx of patients from out of state.
“We are taking needed action to protect and defend individual freedom and protect the privacy of Coloradans,” Polis said in a statement. “This important step will ensure that Colorado’s thriving economy and workforce are not impacted based on person health decisions that are wrongly being criminalized in other states.”
The order received support from the Colorado Nurses Association, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and the Democratic lawmakers who sponsored the RHEA.
“Today’s executive order makes two things very clear: If you are a patient seeking abortion care, you are safe and welcome in Colorado,” said PPRM President and CEO Adrienne Mansanares. “We’ve long been known as a safe state for access to abortion care, and we’re grateful for this order which reinforces that important message.”
“The executive order Governor Polis issued today will protect doctors and pregnant women seeking life saving care from the state and local governments wanting to use their private medical information to put them in prison,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a primary care physician who will be the Democrat on the ballot in the new 8th Congressional District this November. “Congress must follow Colorado’s lead and protect women’s ability to choose their own reproductive futures.”
“I appreciate Gov. Polis’ executive order to protect patients and providers, because with abortion access now in jeopardy, or outright banned, in too many Republican-controlled states across the country, this is a crucial time in which we all must do everything that we can to defend these fundamental rights,” said Sen. Julie Gonzales, D-Denver.