Like It Or Not, Abortion A Defining 2020 Battleground

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Denver Post’s Saja Hindi published before Chirstmas a very good long-form story on the changing politics of reproductive choice in Colorado, an issue long disparaged by local political reporters as irrelevant given the state’s solid Democratic control of the levers of power, but no longer as the rightward lurch of the federal judiciary up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court under President Donald Trump makes the previously unthinkable in terms of weakening abortion rights an increasing likelihood:

“It’s a moment where we have to decide what kind of society we want to have looking forward and who gets to decide who gets to control our access to information about reproductive health care,” said Karen Middleton, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado executive director. “It’s information and access, and both of those are being limited by policies at the federal level and the Supreme Court. And ultimately, it could be a Supreme Court decision that could overturn a lot of this.”

What’s happening in the rest of the country is setting off major alarms for Colorado advocates who want to protect the state from reduced access both on behalf of residents and for women traveling from other parts of the country.

“In Colorado, it’s imperative that we hold our ground on this issue and continue being a safe haven for folks who must bear the burden of travel for their abortion care, while also continuing to expand access and affordability to reproductive health care for folks who already live in our state,” said Fawn Bolak, Keep Abortion Safe co-founder.

In the last fifteen years, Colorado voters have repeatedly and soundly rejected “Personhood” abortion ban ballot measures. Perennial Republican legislative attempts to both make abortion a felony as well as impose the full range of “targeted restrictions on abortion providers,” a.k.a. TRAP laws, like those making their way through the court system after passage in other states have all failed. In 2020, local Republicans are promising to introduce another round of anti-abortion legislation, and in the context of a right-leaning Supreme Court ready to uphold such laws these efforts can no longer simply be written off–despite a strong Democratic majority in the legislature to ensure the bills don’t get far in Colorado. Colorado is only one election away from abortion laws that would have been unimaginable a decade ago.

Although the prevalent conventional wisdom is that abortion doesn’t itself decide elections, being an issue that according to polls contributes to but does not dominate the agenda of left-breaking unaffiliated voters who represent a plurality in Colorado, the likely presence of another abortion restriction ballot measure on the 2020 ballot will ensure abortion factors in voters’ choices up and down the ballot. Anti-abortion Republicans hope the sidestep of banning abortions later in pregnancy will draw greater support, but it’s still an arbitrary unscientific limit on a personal medical decision.

Coloradans vote no on those, and Republicans historically suffer collateral damage from the attempt. Sen. Cory Gardner’s 2014 victory, in which his opposition to abortion rights became a counterintuitive asset by persuading jaded reporters Mark Udall’s warnings about Gardner on the issue were “too shrill,” runs counter to that historic trend. In 2020, Gardner’s personal role in shifting the federal judiciary toward hostility to abortion and this latest state-level assault on abortion rights will both face the ultimate test.

We don’t foresee this ticket splitting.

20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    The simple questions still remain for supporters of banning, or restricting access to, abortion.

    ***If you oppose abortion, do you support full & unfettered access to birth control? If not, why not?

    Reminder: one of the founders of the modern conservative movement in the US was the late Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ).

    Goldwater on abortion: "it's not a conservative issue. It's a matter between a woman and her doctor."


  2. MADCO says:

    I have been told by reasonable people that abortion doesn't matter because no one is serious about reversing Roe or legislating to make it illegal. It's just never going to happen.

    So you must be wrong and just trying to scare people into riding bikes and giving up our guns so the UN can make us do whatever the squad wants.

  3. JohnInDenver says:

    I keep wondering about legislators putting amendments on any TRAP laws, applying the same standards to any medical procedure with an equivalent risk. 

    So, right wing medical interventions for abortion would also be applied to wisdom teeth extraction, free-standing birthing centers, liposuction procedures, cosmetic surgery centers, knee replacements, bariatric surgery, hernia surgery and colonoscopy (among others). 

  4. kwtree says:

    Colorado has no TRAP laws….but most other states do. It’s not for lack of effort by our GOP legislators. They just keep getting shut down. 

    What I’d like to see in Colorado is some rules binding all the damn Catholic hospitals to offer birth control, abortion, sterilization for men and women, hospice, physician assisted dying, and all the other procedures their “religious principles” supposedly won’t allow them to perform. I’d like to see our legislators and governor take that one on.

    I know it would probably attract lawsuits and be decided in court. Bring it. Somebody has to challenge these little Catholic hospital ethics boards deciding which kinds of health care consumers are allowed to get.

    Lawmakers could also propose some mind-bending tables-turning laws, as   former Ohio state Senator Nina Turner did

    Ohio state senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) announced legislation on Friday to protect men from the risks of PDE-5 inhibitors, drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of impotence.

    Turner’s legislation includes provisions to document that the symptoms are not psychological in nature, and would guide men to make the right decision for their bodies. According to the press release, physicians would be required to obtain a second opinion from a psychological professional to verify that a patient has a true medical malady before the medication could be prescribed. 

    The legislation follows the FDA’s recommendation that the evaluation of erectile dysfunction should include a determination of potential underlying causes and the identification of appropriate treatment following a complete medical assessment. Similar bills to more closely regulate reproductive health issues have been introduced in the state legislatures of Virginia, Oklahoma, Idaho, and most recently Pennsylvania.


    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      If Catholic hospitals get any kind of federal or state funding; and most of them likely do; they should be providing services along the lines described. I understand the decision not to provide abortions, but everything else should be in play.

      You left out the issue of living wills, which are legal documents. A good court case could be to challenge a Catholic hospital ethics board if said legal document is not recognized on grounds of "religious freedom."

      • kwtree says:

        That’s exactly what I’m proposing, CHB- some kind of legislation that essentially says “ If you operate in the state of Colorado and receive x tax dollar funds, you will provide these legal services to Colorado Residents”. 

        Or, a lawsuit that slowly works its way up through the court system – from a patient who was denied necessary health services – like this woman who asked for a tubal ligation, but was denied it. (Mercy Hospital later reversed its decision and allowed the tubal ligation, after the woman threatened to sue). 

        I got my tubes tied at Denver Health, after four pregnancies, two children and one abortion. I was told another pregnancy might hurt my lady parts. If people are against abortion, they should be willing to provide services to prevent future abortions.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          A long time friend of mine; we first met in 1976; had several reasons for wanting birth control. The biggest reason was bad menstrual cramps. Those who are both anti-abortion, and anti-contraception (probably most of the religious zealots), lose track of these side issues.

          Which is another reason why legislators who propose abortion restrictions actually are practicing medicine without being licensed (the safety clause in bills notwithstanding).

          Just read your link. Kudos to the ACLU for getting down and dirty on this issue. Catholic hospitals have no right to impose their doctrine on any person wanting to be sterilized.

        • JohnInDenver says:

          At the very least, a law could insist all Colorado hospitals must offer complete medical information, including which hospitals DO provide the services.  And require health insurance companies to consider the alternate providers as "in network" for those services denied a faith-based hospitals.

    • Powerful Pear says:

      You go girl! Why can’t that “somebody” be you? You could pull a Jack Phillips and ask for a sex change at one of the Catholic hospitals. Bam, your the ACLU’s best friend.

      • Conserv. Head Banger says:

        Or men such as Pear should have a required waiting period before getting a vasectomy, and be required to have a prostate exam by catheter up the you know what. 

  5. Blackie says:

    Speaking of Catholic hospitals — A friend of mine recently was taken ill, he went to a Catholic hospital. There, they could not figure out what kind of heart problem he was having. While they hemmed and hawed, he had a stroke.

    They immediately transferred him to Swedish in Englewood where he passed away from heart problems along with complications from the stroke.

    Nuff said.

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