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March 9, 2023

JOINT RELEASE: Democrats Introduce Bill to Protect Reproductive Health Care Patients and Providers, Ensure Access to Critical Care

Legislation will shield legally-protected health care providers, patients and helpers

DENVER, CO – Democrats today introduced legislation sponsored by Senator Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Senator Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, that establishes that criminal prosecutions for receiving, providing, or assisting legally-protected health care - including abortion and gender-affirming care - will not be recognized by the state of Colorado.

Sponsored in the House by Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood, and Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada, SB23-188 also prevents Colorado from recognizing or enforcing civil lawsuits concerning protected health care that are penal in nature or without jurisdiction, and prevents Colorado state employees from participating in or assisting with interstate investigations or divulging information concerning protected health care.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade unleashed a wave of anti-abortion legislation across the country, and it’s putting Coloradans' ability to access critical reproductive and gender-affirming care in jeopardy,” Gonzales said. “Any barrier to health care in our state is unacceptable and puts lives at risk. This bill will protect the people who both seek and provide that care in our state, and will ensure that Coloradans can continue to access the life-saving care they need to thrive.”

“Abortion is safe and legal in Colorado, yet every day we see threats to our fundamental rights to make our own reproductive health decisions,” said Froelich. “This bill codifies important protections to make sure our patients, providers and helpers are shielded from interstate criminal threats, retaliation and imprisonment. Accessing and providing reproductive health care isn’t a crime, and no one should face legal threats for receiving or offering these services. This bill makes clear that Colorado will never extradite a provider or patient to another state, protecting Coloradans from anti-abortion lawsuits and extreme prosecutors in other states.” 

“When we passed RHEA, Colorado became a safe haven for legal reproductive health care,” said Titone. “Nationally, our fundamental rights are under attack, and it’s our responsibility in Colorado to protect those seeking legal gender-affirming health care from vicious and outright dangerous legal overreach by other states. Having access to gender-affirming care saves lives and gives people the power to live their life unapologetically, and be true to themselves. Our bill prioritizes patients and providers, fights back against anti-abortion and anti-trans rhetoric, and protects our privacy.” 

"We must do everything we can to protect vital health care professionals in Colorado,” said Jaquez Lewis. “As a pharmacist, if I dispense certain drugs that are considered abortive care in repressive states, I could be extradited, charged with homicide and fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am very concerned that health care experts can no longer feel safe making medically necessary decisions."

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