Bills to increase access to abortion, get consent for pelvic exams on the agenda for Colorado women's caucus
Published in Political News
DENVER — More than seven months have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, but this is the first chance Colorado lawmakers have had to work on legislation in its aftermath.
Last year, the Colorado Legislature passed the “Reproductive Health Equity Act,” guaranteeing the right to abortions in state law. But lawmakers say that was just the first step, and just because residents have the right to get abortions doesn’t mean they have the access.
That’s why the Colorado Democratic Women’s Caucus — made up of a historic number of women and people of diverse backgrounds — made a package of three abortion bills one of its policy priorities for 2023. The bills have a high likelihood of passing with a Democratic-controlled statehouse, and caucus co-chair Rep. Lisa Cutter noted that the caucus passed all of its priorities last year.
The state General Assembly only meets from January-May each year and the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Women’s Organization decision was released in June, so Colorado lawmakers have looked to laws passed in other states that have full-time legislatures and advice from advocacy groups.
“I think the question is, ‘how do we build something better than Roe? How do we move beyond legal and into a place where health care is accessible and affordable for all people?'” said Jack Teter, policy director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
This package of bills will address the changing landscape across the U.S. and the “unique and nefarious actions” in surrounding states, said Meg Froelich, a Greenwood Village Democrat.
“It’s a moving target,” she said. “It’s much more complicated. You’re really addressing what true access means and there were so many barriers in existence even before Roe fell.”
The women’s caucus has identified four priorities for legislation in 2023: three bills related to safe access for protected health care, including abortions; a bill to guarantee a fair workweek, or predictable schedules for employees; a bill to strengthen the state’s 2019 Equal Pay Act; and a bill to require informed consent for intimate medical exams.
Part of the criteria for choosing these bills includes improving the lives of women and families and making advancements for women and families of color as well as trans women and those of other intersectionalities, said co-chair Rep. Naquetta Ricks, an Aurora Democrat.
Abortion and gender-affirming care rights
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