Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order to strengthen the state’s abortion rights and provide additional protections for those traveling to the state seeking reproductive health care.
Signed Wednesday, the order protects abortion providers and those who seek abortions including those traveling to Colorado from states where the procedure is criminalized or restricted.
State agencies will be prohibited from providing medical records to other states who are investigating someone seeking an abortion unless “pursuant with a court order.”
“No one who is lawfully providing, assisting, seeking or obtaining reproductive health care in Colorado should be subject to legal liability or professional sanctions in Colorado or any other state, nor will Colorado cooperate with criminal or civil investigations for actions that are fully legal in our State,” Polis wrote.
Additionally, the order states the governor will exercise full discretion to decline requests for arrests, surrender or extradition of a person facing criminal charges for assisting or receiving an abortion.
In April, Polis signed the Reproductive Health Equity Act that provides protections for reproductive care, including abortions.
Several states bordering Colorado, including Utah, have imposed abortion restrictions or bans. For Utah women, the closest abortion clinic along a major thoroughfare, I-70, is in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, approximately 369 miles from Salt Lake City.
No state has yet passed a law preventing people from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion.
In Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, he stated he believes barring people from seeking abortions in other states would be unconstitutional due to the “constitutional right to interstate travel.”
But some lawmakers and anti-abortion advocates are looking to pass legislation to allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps someone seek an abortion out of state. The legal strategy would be modeled after the Texas “heartbeat” bill that uses private citizens to enforce the law through civil lawsuits.
The Justice Department has warned it will fight those types of laws, arguing they would violate the right to interstate travel.
What other states in the West have done to protect abortion access:
- Washington Gov. Jay Inslee barred the Washington State Patrol from cooperating with law enforcement agencies in other states looking to prosecute those seeking abortions in Washington. The state will also be looking to advance a constitutional amendment to protect the right to an abortion.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom also signed an executive order to prevent state agencies and departments from sharing information with other states regarding an investigation into someone seeking an abortion. A state constitutional amendment to protect abortion and contraceptive rights passed the California State Assembly and will be voted on in November.
- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham prohibited cooperation in investigations that might interfere with abortion access in New Mexico, barred most state employees from assisting investigations from other states against abortion providers and declines to carry out arrest warrants from other states in cases regarding anti-abortion laws.
- Oregon, California and Washington launched a multistate commitment to reproductive freedom to protect access to reproductive health care including abortion and contraceptives.