FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
March 23, 2022
Aurea Bolaños Perea,
Strategic Communications Manager, COLOR
Laura K. Chapin
Communications Consultant, Cobalt
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH EQUITY ACT PASSES COLORADO STATE SENATE, MOVES TO GOVERNOR POLIS’ DESK
DENVER, CO – HB22-1279, also known as the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), legislation to put protections for abortion access within Colorado law, has passed in the Colorado State Senate on a 20-15 vote. RHEA has already passed the Colorado House on March 14, so today is the final legislative step in the process. The bill now moves to Gov Polis’ desk for his signature. RHEA is sponsored by House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), Rep Meg Froelich (D-Littleton), and Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver).
The Reproductive Health Equity Act will ensure every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception; every individual who becomes pregnant has a fundamental right to choose to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of Colorado.
“Senator Julie Gonzales has been an absolute champion for RHEA, and we are in deep appreciation and gratitude for her work, as well as the many hours and late nights from our House sponsors. Passing the Reproductive Health Equity Act is a historic, proactive step in protecting the ability of all Coloradans to access to the reproductive healthcare they need and deserve, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, religious affiliation, or income,” said Dusti Gurule, President of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).
And according to Cobalt President Karen Middleton, “As abortion access hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court, RHEA ensures these fundamental rights are protected in Colorado State Law. RHEA should serve as encouragement to policymakers and advocates in other states that boldly protecting abortion rights can be done and it’s the right thing to do.
We want to thank our House and Senate sponsors, Senator Gonzales, House Majority Leader Esgar, and Rep Froelich, for sponsoring and championing RHEA. We also deeply appreciate all our allies who testified and told their own personal stories about what this legislation means to them and their constituents. RHEA puts our longstanding Colorado values into law and ensures that abortion is not only legal but also accessible in Colorado for anyone who wants it, without stigma, cost barriers, or political interference.”
While Colorado has successfully defeated 44 attempts to ban or restrict abortion at the General Assembly since 2010 and 4 attempts at the ballot box since 2008, there is nothing explicitly protective of abortion access in Colorado law. Until now, Coloradans have relied on the Constitutional protection of Roe and the federal courts. This protection might not exist much longer, which is why we need to pass RHEA now. The Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe this spring with their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging Mississippi’s unconstitutional abortion ban.
“We know there is resounding support for RHEA in Colorado, and across the country,” concluded Dusti Gurule, President of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). “Over 55 organizations across the state and the country, and over 800 individuals who have signed our petition, believe in the work of RHEA, and we know our community does too. We look forward to ensuring that Colorado continues to be a state that cares for all of its residents and their reproductive health care needs.”