FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –
March 9, 2022
Aurea Bolaños Perea
Strategic Communications Manager, COLOR
Laura K. Chapin
Communications Consultant, Cobalt
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH EQUITY ACT PASSES KEY VOTE IN COLORADO HOUSE HEALTH COMMITTEE
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 a key first vote in the Colorado House Health Committee. RHEA is sponsored by House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar (D-Pueblo), Rep Meg Froelich (D-Littleton), and Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver). It passed 7-4, and now moves to the House floor for further consideration.
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.
“Colorado needs HB1279 to ensure that our reproductive freedoms here in Colorado are protected,” testified Katherine Riley, Policy Director for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR). “We know that abortion restrictions fall hardest on people of color, many of whom already struggle with access to quality health care. Latinas are twice as likely as white women to experience an unintended pregnancy for many reasons including barriers to information and care, misinformation meant to specifically target the Latino community, stigma, and the lack of affordable health care coverage and access to the most effective forms of birth control.
When a person is forced to carry a pregnancy to term, Latinas and other folks of color continue to experience harm and inequities along the pregnancy and birth journey – from higher rates of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality to continuing cycles of poverty. The time to act is now, and waiting is not an option.”
And as Cobalt President Karen Middleton testified, “We need RHEA because this may be the last year we have the protections of Roe v. Wade. We simply cannot count on the federal courts to protect our Constitutional right to abortion in Colorado. We know abortion access is about power. And this bill, the Reproductive Health Equity Act, is also about power – it is about the power of each person to decide for themselves whether to become pregnant, whether to continue a pregnancy, and whether to give birth. There is nothing more economically, emotionally, and physically determinative to someone’s life than the power of the decision if, how, or when to become a parent.
As Coloradans, we have long believed that power belongs to individuals, not the state. And we must pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act to put those beliefs into state law.“
Added Dani Newsum, Cobalt’s Director of Strategic Partnerships in her testimony, “Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court on track to neuter or overturn the federal right to an abortion, and the never-ending attempts by radical anti-abortionists in Colorado to ban abortion in this state, it is time to stand up. With credit to the immortal Bessie Smith – Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I do – or don’t. Please approve the Reproductive Health Equity Act, and make the right to obtain abortion care, to obtain contraceptives, as well as the right to continue a pregnancy, or refuse contraception, a fundamental right in Colorado.”
While Colorado had 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.
“Over 50 organizations across the state and the country believe in the work of RHEA, and we know our community does too. We look forward to ensuring that Colorado continues to be a safe-haven for abortion are for all of those who need it.” concluded Dusti Gurule President of the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR).