Denver: A trio of health care bills enshrining access in Colorado to abortion and gender-affirming procedures and medications became law Friday as the Democrat-led state tries to make itself a safe haven for its neighbors, whose Republican leaders are restricting care.
The main goal of the legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis is to ensure people in surrounding states and beyond can go to Colorado to have an abortion, begin puberty blockers or receive gender-affirming surgery without fear of prosecution. Bordering states of Wyoming and Oklahoma have passed abortion bans, and Utah has severely restricted transgender care for minors.
Many states with abortion or transgender care bans are also criminalizing traveling to states for the purpose of accessing legal health care.
The contradicting laws are setting the stage for interstate disputes comparable to the patchwork of same-sex marriage laws that existed until 2015, or the 19th-century legal conflict over whether fugitive enslaved people in free states remained the property of slaveholders when they escaped.
With the new laws, Colorado joins Illinois as a progressive peninsula offering reproductive rights to residents of conservative states on three sides. Illinois abortion clinics now serve people living in a 1,800-mile stretch of 11 Southern states that have largely banned abortion.