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March 31, 2023

Legislation to Protect Reproductive Health Care Providers and Patients Moves Forward

SB23-188 establishes shield laws to protect those seeking or performing reproductive health and gender-affirming care

DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation on a preliminary vote to establish that the state of Colorado will not recognize any out of state prosecutions for those receiving, providing, or assisting with legally-protected health care, including abortion and gender-affirming care.SB23-188, part of the Safe Access to Protected Health Care legislative package, works to protect health care providers and patients from overreaching interstate criminal and civil threats.

“Colorado Democrats will always defend reproductive freedom, and I’m proud of the important progress we’ve made to protect those seeking or performing legal, reproductive health care,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “Our bill codifies important protections for legally protected health care service to make sure our patients, providers, and assistors are shielded from interstate prosecution, retaliation, and imprisonments. In Colorado, we trust you to make your own medical decisions and will protect you from other states’ baseless attempts to enforce their restrictive abortion laws.”

“Anti-trans bills, bans and laws have been sweeping the country, yet in Colorado we’re focused on protecting the fundamental right to gender-affirming and reproductive health care,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “Our legislation not only affirms the right to protected health care, but prevents other states from enforcing their regressive anti-abortion and anti-trans laws in Colorado. For many, having access to gender-affirming care is both life-saving and validating. This important legislation protects our privacy, prioritizes patients and providers over politics and upholds our fundamental rights to health care.” 

Protections For Accessing Reproductive Health Care: SB23-188 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 interstate investigations or divulging information concerning protected health care.

For 1.2 million people, Colorado is the closest state to receive legal abortion and reproductive health care. In order to protect patients, providers and assistors from anti-abortion lawsuits or legal action, this bill establishes a shield law to protect those receiving, providing, or assisting with legally-protected abortion and gender-affirming health care. This includes protections for out-of-state patients and providers.   

Across the nation, many states are enacting strict laws to limit access to reproductive and gender-affirming care. In both Texas and Oklahoma, anyone providing, assisting, or paying for an abortion that occurs within the state are subject to criminal and civil penalties. Under these laws, residents and non residents of these two states are subject to penalties. 

During the 2023 legislative session, 431 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across the country. Mississippi, Utah, South Dakota, Iowa, Florida and Tennessee have joined, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, in passing bans or restrictions on gender-affirming care.

The bills included in the Safe Access to Protected Health Care legislative package are part of an effort to make Colorado one of the safest states in the nation to receive reproductive health care and gender-affirming care. 

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