October 8, 2021 | OPINION | By Emma Logan | Illustration by Kira Schulist
In the wake of the recent six-week limitation placed on abortion in Texas, people with uteruses across the country have understandably spent the last few weeks anxiously anticipating news on the future of Roe v. Wade and reproductive freedom.
Sept. 20 brought a crucial update to this developing situation when the Supreme Court announced they will hear a case concerning Mississippi’s fifteen-week abortion ban on Dec. 1, 2021.
Although the Supreme Court refused to block the Texas law in early September, this decision was paired with a public claim that the lack of action should not be confused as an assessment of the law’s constitutionality.
Rather, some judges assert the choice was rooted in a lack of complex analysis from the abortion providers who filed the emergency claim brought to the court.
However, the new case concerning Mississippi sets a distinct countdown until the Supreme Court, currently with a six to three conservative majority, will review the precedent established by Roe v. Wade in 1973.
For many years, it has been generally understood that Roe v. Wade considers the concept of ‘viability,’ the ability for a fetus to reasonably survive outside of the uterus, to be a standard limitation of abortion restraints.
For context, concerning just how unreasonable a six or 15-week ban is, average fetal viability is not achieved until roughly 24 weeks of gestation.
Since 2019, laws that restrict pre-viability abortion have been struck down by various federal courts in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.
Yet, given the recent addition of two conservative votes to the Supreme Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, it is very possible that the Supreme Court will revise its approach to the precedent established in Roe v. Wade. This would allow states to create legislation which could limit the applicability of federal abortion protections.
However, Colorado College students can take some refuge in the knowledge that our state is unlikely to give into the right’s pro-life agenda.
Despite the fact that 89% of Colorado counties do not have access to a local abortion provider, our state law provides substantially more protections for people seeking abortion care than even some of our country’s bluest states, including Delaware and Massachusetts.
Colorado is one of very few states that allow a late term abortion, defined as the termination of pregnancy at up to 36 weeks, for certain patients in situations of genetic disorders and extreme medical conditions. Otherwise, outpatient abortions are available until up to 24 weeks of gestation, directly in line with the pre-viability limitation of Roe v. Wade.
Family planning protections in Colorado are also extensively present in policies such as the ability to petition a judge for a parental consent waiver if under the age of 18 when seeking an abortion. Colorado also has a complete lack of spousal consent requirements. Colorado residents under 18 also have the right to obtain family planning services.
Unlike the 33 states that demand counseling before the termination of a pregnancy, there is no mandatory waiting period necessary between conception and an abortion procedure in Colorado.
Also, since 1993, the state has enjoyed a statewide “bubble law” that legally prevents someone from getting within eight feet of someone else seeking an abortion while within a 100 foot radius of any health care facility without consent. If someone does so, or intentionally violates another’s entry or exit from a healthcare facility, it’s considered a misdemeanor in the eyes of Colorado state law.
Although public opinion on abortion across our politically diverse state may vary in some of our conservative counties, the well-established and maintained legal protections for it don’t seem to be diminishing anytime soon in Colorado.
Despite what comes of the future of Roe v. Wade determinations on a national level, infrastructure here would be much harder to tear down. We should all continue to fight like hell for federal protections. Be outraged. Be loud. But don’t panic. Colorado has got our back for now.