SB23-188 establishes shield laws to protect those seeking or performing reproductive health or gender affirming care
DENVER, CO – The House Judiciary Committee today passed legislation to establish that the state of Colorado will not recognize any criminal prosecutions for those receiving, providing, or assisting with legally-protected health care, including abortion and gender-affirming care. SB23-188 is part of the Safe Access to Protected Health Care legislative package and works to protect health care providers and patients from overreaching interstate criminal and civil threats.
“When we passed RHEA, we knew the fight to defend our reproductive freedoms wasn’t over,” said Rep. Meg Froelich, D-Englewood. “This bill codifies important protections to make sure our patients, providers, and helpers are shielded from interstate prosecution threats, retaliation and imprisonment. In Colorado, we respect your bodily autonomy and the right to make your own medical decisions. Our bill makes it clear that Colorado will never extradite a provider or patient to another state, further protecting Coloradans from other states’ attempts to enforce their restrictive abortion laws.”
“Across the country and even here in Colorado, our fundamental freedoms are under attack from harmful transphobic rhetoric, anti-trans bills, and egregious attempts to limit who we are,” said Rep. Brianna Titone, D-Arvada. “Our legislation protects those seeking gender-affirming and reproductive health care from politically-motivated, legal overreach by other states. For many people, having access to gender-affirming care is not only validating, but life-saving. This bill prioritizes patients and providers, protects our privacy and upholds your fundamental rights to reproductive and gender-affirming health care.”
Protections For Accessing Reproductive Health Care: SB23-188 passed committee by a vote of 9 to 4. This bill 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 abortion 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.