Colorado, now an abortion “safe haven,” prepares for new challenges in providing care

Lawmakers, advocates looking at ballot measure, new bill, regulatory changes

Saja Hindi
The Denver Post
Democratic state Sen. Julie C. Gonzales addresses other senators in the Senate chambers at the Capitol in Denver on March 23, 2022. Colorado lawmakers took the final vote on HB 21-1279 called the Reproductive Health and Equity Act. The bill passed.
Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

DENVER — Fourth-generation Texan Leah Payne moved to Denver last year in the wake of a new Texas abortion law that imposed some of the strictest abortion restrictions in the nation.

“We left our family, friends, sold our house. We couldn’t live somewhere where abortion access was constantly under attack,” Payne told The Denver Post.

At 19, Payne, who was on birth control, got pregnant. She didn’t have insurance at the time and decided to have an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

“It was put out there as this big, bad thing that was traumatizing, but I never felt that,” Payne said. “Now, I’m 32, I’m a homeowner here in Denver and have a really successful career, a great partner, and I don’t think any of those things would have happened if I had not had an abortion at 19.”

Payne chose her new home after learning about access to reproductive care in the state, and many Americans who woke up on Friday with fewer rights than they had a day prior may be forced to make similar choices. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on Friday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, leaving it up to the states to regulate abortions. For about half the country, abortions will be banned or severely restricted. Colorado passed a law this year that guaranteed the right to an abortion in the state, but advocates and lawmakers say there’s more to be done now that so many other states won’t allow their residents that option.


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