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This afternoon Governor Jared Polis joined bill sponsors and community leaders to sign historic Colorado legislation codifying a person’s fundamental right to make reproductive healthcare decisions free from government interference.

HB22-1279, known as the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA) was sponsored by Representatives Daneya Esgar and Meg Froelich, and Senator Julie Gonzales, all Democrats.

The bill declares that “every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

Women gather at Alpine Park in Salida to protest recent restrictions on Texas abortion rights that have effectively replaced Roe vs. Wade in that state. Tara Flanagan photo

“In the state of Colorado this serious decision to start or end a pregnancy with medical assistance will remain between a person, their doctor, and their faith …. This important bill simply codifies existing protections in statute. The bill does not make any changes to the current legal framework  for parental notification that exists in state law.” The governor’s full signing statement is available here.

“Right now, reproductive rights are under attack across the country, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned, there is no Colorado law in place that would protect the right to obtain a safe, legal abortion, which is why this bill is so important,” Gonzales said. “The Reproductive Health Equity Act will enshrine the right to abortion access in our state’s laws, ensuring that every Coloradan is guaranteed their fundamental right to reproductive freedom and can make their own decisions about their life and their future.”

The bill has moved forward swiftly this year; it came out of committee in mid-March. The speed matches what is going on across the country, but in the opposite direction; limiting a woman’s right to choose and make the health decisions for her own body.

Republican-controlled statehouses around the country have begun to pass increasingly-restrictive reproductive healthcare bills, and as the Supreme Court is getting ready to take on a Mississippi bill that could roll back Roe v. Wade, the pressures on a woman’s right to choose for her own body has come increasingly into question.

Colorado remains committed to ensuring abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible. Recently, House Democrats defeated three Republican-led bills that would have jeopardized that right, covered in this  March 25 AVV story. This year, the Colorado statehouse decided it was time to protect Coloradans’ right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions.