In Colorado, unlike other states like Wyoming, Utah, and Texas, the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade does not mean that abortion is already illegal or may soon be banned.
While Wyoming, Utah and Texas are among states with laws that could ban abortion procedures by the end of next month, Colorado law allows abortion at any time during pregnancy. But the fact that their rights were guaranteed, at least for now, in Colorado didn’t stop a few thousand people from showing up to rally Monday night at the Denver Capitol.
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“At the end of the day, we have to decide if we’re going to honor women as human beings,” said Rebecca Taylor, when asked what brought her to the rally. She pointed to a sign that read “Life/Liberty/Liberty/Human Rights for Women Now!”
“I’m here because I’m upset, because everyone other than straight white cisgender men is considered a second-class citizen,” added her friend, Kate Duffy. “I’m sick of it. So I’m here to show my support for myself, my friends, and all other women and pregnant women in this country.
The rally was organized by a statewide coalition of progressive groups, including the ACLU of Colorado; cobalt advocates; Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, or COLOR; Colorado Interfaith Alliance; New Era Colorado; Rocky Mountain Family Planning; and ProgressNow Colorado Education.
Beginning around 6 p.m., elected officials and activists gathered the crowd from the west steps of the Colorado Capitol building. They spoke for about two and a half hours, urging attendees to vote for pro-abortion rights candidates, support local abortion funds, and raise their voices.
“We are here today because nine unelected people on the Supreme Court chose to use violence,” said Elva Escobedo of COLOR. “This decision will be felt more harshly by low-income people, people of color, LGBT people, young people.”
Among the elected Democrats at the rally were Gov. Jared Polis; US Representatives Diana DeGette of Denver and Jason Crow of Aurora; State Meaning. Julie Gonzales, Faith Winter and Tammy Story; State Representatives Karen McCormick, Kyle Mullica, Yadira Caraveo, Emily Sirota, Brianna Titone, Lindsey Daugherty, Iman Jodeh, Steven Woodrow and Mike Weissman; and Attorney General Phil Weiser.
DeGette pointed out that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to codify abortion rights, but the effort failed in the Senate. To achieve this, she said, Democrats must retain their House majority, win more Senate seats and abolish the filibuster, a delaying tactic that prevents the Senate from passing bills without a vote. three-fifths majority.
Polis hailed the new law protecting long-existing abortion rights at the state level and said that “together we will reverse this trend” of restricting reproductive rights in other parts of the country.
“No woman should be sentenced to prison for terminating a pregnancy,” Polis said.
Hundreds of people broke away from the rally and began marching through the streets around the Capitol at 7 p.m., shouting and carrying signs.
Colorado State Patrol and the Denver Police Department maintained a presence throughout the event.
Denver police did not report any vandalism or violent altercations in connection with protests against Friday’s Supreme Court ruling. In the nearby town of Longmont, about 30 miles north of Denver, a Christian pregnancy center in crisis was vandalized and caught fire early Saturday morning, according to the Longmont Public Safety Department.
Seize the political moment
As the midterm elections approach, rally organizers have sought to draw a contrast between Republican and Democratic candidates on abortion rights.
“The Republican Party is currently putting insurgents, election deniers, anti-abortionists, corporates who are more interested in seeing their bottom lines go up instead of ensuring the bodily autonomy of the people they are elected to serve,” he said. said Gonzales, a Denver Democrat.
Democrats currently control the Colorado House, Senate and governor’s office, but anticipated turnout in the June 28 primary election, which favors Republicans, could point to a GOP advantage in November. Democrats have consistently won statewide races in recent years, but their opponents believe soaring inflation, record gasoline prices and President Joe’s low approval rating Biden spell midterm trouble for the ruling party.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you to vote harder,” Gonzales told protesters, but Republicans are hoping Democratic voters “will abstain.”
Republican candidates in statewide elections have criticized Colorado’s new law protecting the right to abortion, and some have indicated support for banning or restricting the procedure.
In an interview Saturday with conservative radio host Randy Corporon, Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl called Colorado’s new abortion law “disgusting.” The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Meg Froelich of Englewood, House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar of Pueblo and Gonzales, all Democrats.
“I hope to be the first female governor and represent women in a way that Jared Polis is not by signing this disgusting abortion law,” said Ganahl, who serves on the University’s board of trustees. of Colorado, in Corporon. “I think giving (young women) economic prosperity and a bright future is the best way to help and support them in the difficult decisions they may have to make.”
It’s unclear whether Ganahl would support banning abortion after six weeks or putting in place other restrictions. His main opponent, Greg Lopez, has previously said he would be likely to sign a law banning abortion if presented to him as governor, according to the language.
“Ganahl is clearly trying to signal her true views to the grassroots ahead of the primary — she deliberately concealed her true positions throughout the campaign, and we will hold her accountable for her far-right positions,” the spokeswoman said. of the Colorado Democratic Party, Kailee Stiles. in a written statement about Ganahl’s radio appearance.
Reproductive rights advocates plan ballot action in 2024 to enshrine HB-1279 in the state Constitution — making it impossible to overturn it without another vote of the people — and to repeal the state’s ban on using the public funding for abortion care.
Gonzales and Froelich envision a sequel to HB-1279 that would “expand access” to abortion by “protecting providers.”
Rights always protected
Colorado abortion providers and advocates stress that people should keep their appointments and that clinics will be able to accommodate the needs of pregnant Colorado women as well as patients traveling from states where the procedure is prohibited. A statement Monday from the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, or CCASA, echoed those sentiments, noting that 14.9% of biologically female rape survivors become pregnant.
CCASA’s website, YouHaveTheRightCO.org, provides a directory of services for survivors of sexual assault – including reproductive health care options that are available “regardless of whether a survivor presents to the forces or not.” order,” the statement said.
“If you know anyone who needs a date, ask them to give them a call and welcome them to Colorado because Colorado is a pro-choice state,” Gonzales told protesters. .