What to know about Colorado’s abortion laws and those of neighboring states


Friday’s 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning nearly 50 years of precedent legalizing abortion rights throughout the country sets the stage for individual states to pass their own laws.

More than two dozen states, including Wyoming and Utah, have so-called trigger laws that ban or restrict the procedure now that Roe vs. Wade has been overturned.

Nebraska, which already requires counseling and a 24-hour waiting period, could act within months to further tighten access to abortions. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has expressed interest in calling a special legislative session for the purpose of banning abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest. 

Here’s what to know following the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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What are Colorado’s abortion laws?

Colorado is one of seven states that have no restrictions on abortions. Voters and the state legislature have regularly defeated attempts to restrict abortions, including Colorado Amendment 48 in 2008 that would have amended the definition of a person to “any human being from the moment of fertilization.”

The definition would have given a fetus the equal rights of life, liberty, and property as a fully-developed, born person would. Voters rejected the amendment 73% to 27%. 

In 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018, efforts to ban abortion in the state legislature all failed.

In 2020, voters again resoundingly defeated a proposed ban on abortions after a fetus’ first 22 weeks, ensuring providers could continue to offer abortions at all stages of pregnancy. 

In March, the Democratic-controlled state House and Senate passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, or RHEA, that codified the right to an abortion into state law, making Colorado an oasis of sorts for people seeking abortions. 

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Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law in April. 

House Bill 1279 states that “every individual has a fundamental right to make decisions about the individual’s reproductive health care, including the fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; a pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion and to make decisions about how to exercise that right; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”   

The law also prohibits local governmental entities from implementing their own restrictions.

Cobalt Advocates, a group that supports access to reproductive health care, including abortion, has been working on a 2024 ballot measure that would enshrine access to abortions in the Colorado Constitution and overturn a state funding ban on abortions, Karen Middleton of Cobalt Advocates told reporters at a press briefing Friday.