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Opinion Columns

Opinion: Why NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado became Cobalt

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado is making a change to double-down on the state’s history of pioneering abortion rights.

In 1967, as Colorado became the first state to allow safe, legal abortion, a grassroots organization grew out of that effort. That organization, called the Colorado Association for the Study of Abortion, or CASA, was created to protect and advance those hard won reproductive rights — including the right to access abortion care — for generations to come.

So as our organization transitions to Cobalt, it represents a return to our roots. And as we face the potential of  a national landscape without Roe, one in which abortion rights may very well return to the states, the work Cobalt does here and in the Rocky Mountain West becomes even more crucial. 

Our work as Cobalt will be centered on advancing abortion access and reproductive rights. There is nothing more simple, and more powerful, than each person’s ability to control their own body and to decide for themselves if, when, how, and why to have children. All of life’s decisions remain grounded in that ability. 

Karen Middleton

It’s not that work at the national level isn’t needed. It is. But direct access to abortion care, and the ability of doctors and medical professionals to provide it, rests in the hands of those on the front lines in states like Colorado. By spinning off from NARAL Pro-Choice America, Cobalt is focusing all of our energies here in Colorado and solidifying our reach with our state’s providers, patients, and advocates. 

This new direction will enable us to be nimble and flexible in how we spend our energy, to choose the tactic or message that is most appropriate in every situation and be nimble and flexible in how we spend our energy.  It means we will be unrelenting in our efforts to ensure that if you want an abortion in Colorado, you should be able to can get one without shame, stigma, or cost barriers. And providers should be able offer that care without intimidation, threats, and political restrictions that have nothing to do with medicine. 

Cobalt’s work will include electoral and political efforts at the local, state, and federal level. Cobalt will continue laying a strong foundation for a state that will secure and protect your reproductive health and abortion access now and in the future by electing lawmakers who will actively fight for reproductive freedom, confronting stigma and misinformation, and reshaping the public conversation around abortion.

Cobalt will leverage our current power and build upon it to ensure we maintain and expand our pro-choice majority at the Colorado General Assembly. We will continue to work to elect pro-choice officials from Governor to Attorney General to City Council. And we will hold our federal representatives in Washington DC loudly accountable for policies that impact access to abortion care and reproductive rights here in Colorado.

By being hyper-focused on the reality of abortion access in Colorado and in the region, Cobalt can utilize tactics and tools that are best suited to remove our unique barriers to access. For instance, because Colorado is still a state with access to abortion, our robust Abortion Fund — the Women’s Freedom Fund — will ensure everyone can benefit from that access by providing resources to navigate financial and other barriers they may face. 

We took over the Women’s Freedom Fund in 2017 from the Unitarian Church. Since then we have tripled its budget and provided abortion care assistance to hundreds of patients. We intend to keep building and expanding our abortion fund going forward, even as abortion access becomes more restricted in other states.

Transitioning to Cobalt means we can better support our neighbors. By fortifying and protecting Colorado as a regional hub for abortion access, Cobalt looks to change the momentum in neighboring states while also protecting our rights here at home.

Your reproductive autonomy should not be dependent on your job, where you live, your financial situation, or, frankly, someone else’s political agenda. That’s why as Cobalt we are committed to securing policies, structures, and attitudes that support fundamental reproductive healthcare and abortion access.

Colorado has been and should be a state that respects that ability of individuals to make the health care decisions that are right for them, free from stigma, systemic barriers, and politics.

As Cobalt we intend to keep it that way, just as we did in 1967.


Karen Middleton is president of Cobalt, a grassroots organization based in Colorado which advocates for abortion access and reproductive rights.