SEPTEMBER 22, 2023
DENVER, CO – Yesterday, COLOR and New Era Colorado celebrated a historic milestone of Colorado becoming the first state in the nation to regulate medication abortion reversal, also known as “abortion pill reversal,” an unproven and experimental practice offered by anti-abortion centers that target young people and communities of color across the state.
As a result of a compromise made with Governor Jared Polis’ office and as outlined in bill SB23-190 Deceptive Trade Practice Pregnancy-related Service, the state’s medical, nursing, and pharmacy boards were charged with determining “whether engaging in medication abortion reversal is a generally accepted standard of practice” by October 1, 2023. Because all three boards could not come to an agreement and neglected to rule medication abortion reversal as a generally accepted standard of practice, SB23-190 will go into effect—classifying abortion pill reversal as unprofessional conduct and making it a deceptive trade practice for anti-abortion centers to advertise or indicate that they provide abortions, emergency contraceptives, or referrals for abortions or emergency contraceptives when they actually don’t.
“Now we can confidently say that anti-abortion centers have lost a major tool they use to mislead patients, thanks to SB23-190 passing its final test and the power of organizing,” said Natasha Berwick, policy director at New Era Colorado. “Throughout the regulatory processes, young people showed up strongly in support of protecting a person’s right to an abortion—and that means making sure that people are provided with factual and unbiased information, shared without shame. Our communities have first-hand experiences with the negative consequences of visiting anti-abortion centers and are not afraid to share their perspectives throughout the public comment process. A majority of the comments submitted called on the state boards to protect patient safety and consider abortion pill reversal unprofessional conduct. We especially want to thank the Colorado State Medical Board for understanding the assignment and specifically classifying abortion pill reversal as unprofessional conduct. Starting in October, abortion pill reversal will no longer be offered in the state of Colorado.”
“We’re in a moment of deep gratitude towards our community across Colorado that showed up for us during the passage of SB23-190 and the subsequent rulemaking hearings,” said Katherine Riley, Policy Director at COLOR. “Our intention with this bill has always been about making sure that Coloradans have accurate and unbiased information when making the pregnancy decision that is right for them. At COLOR, we know that just because something is legal, doesn’t mean it’s accessible for everyone. Community power is what makes Colorado the safe haven we admire across this nation, and we saw that in the way our communities showed up to hold the Boards accountable to the legislative intent of the bill. There is no justice or change without the community at the helm of policy solutions.”
Our work doesn’t stop here. COLOR, New Era Colorado, and our partners remain committed to removing all barriers to access so that we can protect Coloradans’ right to lead safe, healthy, and self-determined lives. SB23-190’s implementation comes as advocates with the Colorado Reproductive Health Rights and Justice coalition file language for a groundbreaking 2024 ballot measure that will enshrine the right to abortion care into the state constitution and ensure every Coloradan can exercise that right, no matter the source of their insurance coverage (see initiatives numbered 89 and 90). Many Coloradans remain unable to access fundamental reproductive health care due to a state funding ban that prevents state insurance programs from covering abortion care.
Coloradans’ support for safe, accessible, and affordable abortion care remains steadfast as we approach the 2024 general election. COLOR and Voces Unidas de Las Montañas recently released the 2023 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda, which found that abortion is a major mobilizing issue for Latino voters. Additionally, a majority of Latinos surveyed expressed support for a ballot measure that would allow state-funded insurance programs to cover abortion care.
We know that ensuring access and affordability to any form of health care, such as abortion, is good policy. As states across the West continue to restrict abortions and reproductive health care with deadly consequences, Colorado advocates remain committed to elevating abortion rights beyond legalization. The historic passage of SB23-190 will help ensure that abortion is legal and that all reproductive care offered in Colorado is safe and transparent.