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Colorado Governor Signs Bills to Protect Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care Rights

Colorado Governor Signs Bills to Protect Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care Rights

Gov. Jared Polis
Photo by David Zalubowski/AP

Out Gov. Jared Polis signed the bills as 15 states block gender-affirming care for transgender people.

By Sydney Kashiwagi, CNN

(CNN) -- Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado signed a trio of bills Friday that further protect the rights to abortion and gender-affirming services in the state, as access to the so-called abortion pill across the country remains in limbo and some neighboring conservative states have moved to restrict such procedures.

Polis' signature comes a year after he signed a measure to codify the right to abortion into Colorado law, months before the US Supreme Court eliminated federal protections for abortion rights by overturning Roe v. Wade. At the same time, conservative neighboring states Oklahoma and Wyoming have passed strict abortion bans, while in Utah, Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill earlier this year banning hormone treatment and surgical procedures for minors seeking gender-affirming care.

One of the bills Polis signed, SB23-188, sets Colorado up to be a haven for people from states with more restrictive laws who are seeking access to abortion and gender-affirming treatment.

The new law bars Colorado courts or judicial officers from issuing subpoenas in connection with a proceeding in another state that involves a person who receives or "performs, assists, or aids" an abortion or gender-affirming treatment in Colorado, both of which are legally protected in the state.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Colorado's blue neighbor to the south, also signed legislation last month that prohibits local municipalities and other public bodies from interfering with a person's ability to access reproductive or gender-affirming health care services in the state.

"I'm proud to sign these pro-freedom laws to further uphold Colorado's value of protecting access to reproductive health care," Polis told CNN in a statement. "[Here] in Colorado, we value individual freedoms and we stand up to protect them."

Another bill Polis signed into law directs large employers to provide coverage for the total cost of abortion care starting next year.

The third law will make it a "deceptive trade practice" for an entity to advertise that it "provides abortions, emergency contraceptives, or referrals for abortions or emergency contraceptives" when it does not, according to a bill summary. A health care provider would also be subject to disciplinary measures if it "provides, prescribes, administers, or attempts medication abortion reversal" in violation of any related rules by state authorities.

The three bills passed the state's Democratic-controlled state legislature earlier this month.

Republicans have criticized the new laws, with state House Minority Leader Mike Lynch saying they deny a woman the right to choose "alternative options other than to end her pregnancy."

As Polis signed the bills into law Friday, the fate of access to the abortion drug mifepristone continued to play out in the courts after a US district judge in Texas said last week that he would suspend the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the abortion pill.

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on Friday extended a hold on that lower-court ruling in an effort to give justices more time to consider the issue.

Parts of the Texas ruling had been set to go into effect Saturday at 1 a.m. ET, but Alito's hold puts off that deadline in the fast-moving dispute until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The case centers on the scope of the FDA's authority to regulate a drug that is used in the majority of abortions today in states that still allow the procedure.

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