When Texas virtually banned abortion care early in the pandemic, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains saw a twelve-fold increase in patients seeking abortion care traveling to the region from Texas. We can expect to see even more patients forced to travel to Colorado now that the draconian Texas law is in effect, because the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block it on procedural grounds.
Health care providers, activists, and reproductive rights supporters in Colorado are going to do everything possible to welcome these travelers with open arms. We can’t let up the fight — not just for Coloradans, but for patients nationwide.
Many of us lived through a time when patients didn’t have the fundamental right to determine when and if they become a parent; families and friends lost loved ones when access to safe and legal abortion was not available. Others of us never have experienced a health care system without access to safe and legal abortion, and cannot understand how we as a country are considering reversing a precedent that the majority of Americans support.
Let’s be real: as the Supreme Court makes abortion care more difficult to access, people with privilege and power will still find a way to receive the care they need. They always do. Communities of color and low-income patients in the South and Midwest — where anti-abortion politicians have monopolies on power — are going to be hit the hardest, exacerbating preexisting health inequities.
Colorado is a different story. Time after time, Coloradans have fought back against abortion bans on the ballot and have elected leaders who believe patients should have the right to control their bodies and their futures.
Coloradans know that your reproductive health is your own — and no one should make decisions about your pregnancy for you. As nearby states continue to pass abortion restrictions, Colorado stands as a safe haven for our fundamental rights, and patients across the country travel here to access the care they need and deserve.
Patients need to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to seek care. There are many places under real threat of abortion access disappearing, but thankfully Colorado is not one of them. We’ve worked hard to elect reproductive rights champions who will stand up for our rights in this state. You are cared for and safe here.
Throughout my 15 years as an Ob/Gyn and abortion provider in Colorado, my top priority has always been providing high-quality, compassionate care to my patients, without stigma or shame. Right now, Coloradans should know that abortion care will continue to be legal in our state, regardless of the Texas law or the Supreme Court’s decision next year on Mississippi’s case.
So what does this mean for the many states where abortion access is at risk? Far too many patients across the country already are forced to travel to Colorado to access essential, time-sensitive abortion care.
So far in 2021, 90 abortion restrictions already have been implemented nationwide. States in the South and Midwest are passing more and more medically unnecessary obstacles, with the goal of making abortion care completely inaccessible. That means abortion access in those regions will be decimated.
This is not a drill: we are at a turning point for the future of abortion rights. However, there is reason to be hopeful.
Coloradans have shown that our state believes every patient deserves to make their own decisions about their pregnancy, without political interference. Activists have been fighting for decades and have succeeded here: Colorado continues to be a safe haven for abortion care where patients across the country can come to access their fundamental rights.
Planned Parenthood and other providers in Colorado will remain open and provide care to everyone who needs it.
Kristina Tocce, M.D., MPH, is an obstetrics & gynecology specialist in Denver. She is vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.