Pro-life advocates encountered set-backs as Colorado's governor signed a trio of bills to expand access to abortion in the Centennial State, and Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a "born-alive" bill that seeks to protect infants who survive failed abortion attempts.
The moves are part of state lawmakers' ongoing attempts to restrict or expand access to abortion across the U.S. in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year overturning prior precedent that had made abortion a constitutional right. Lawmakers in Florida earlier in April approved a bill banning abortion after six weeks gestation. That law may or may not go into effect pending the outcome of a challenge to the state's existing 15-week abortion ban.
Colorado's Democratic Gov. Jared Polis signed legislation April 14 that blocks other states from attempts to criminally prosecute those who undergo, provide or assist abortions in Colorado, and extends legal protections to individuals crossing state lines seeking transgender surgeries or hormonal interventions.
Another bill approved by Polis requires large employers to cover abortion-related expenses without deductibles, copayments or coinsurance as of 2025. However, the state's government would be exempt from that requirement because Colorado's constitution prohibits spending taxpayer funds on abortion procedures. Another exception would exist for employers with "sincerely held religious beliefs" about abortion.
An additional bill bars crisis pregnancy centers from engaging in what abortion advocates have called "deceptive practices," such as appearing to market themselves as abortion clinics or conducting what some call an abortion pill reversal. The latter, proponents say, can halt the effects of a medication abortion, but opponents claim it is an unproven method.
"I'm proud to sign these pro-freedom laws to further uphold Colorado's value of protecting access to reproductive health care," Polis said in a statement.
"I deeply thank Colorado's legislature for sending these bills to my desk and was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the bill sponsors today because here in Colorado, we value individual freedoms and we stand up to protect them," Polis said.
Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila condemned the legislation, arguing in a statement that Polis "is clearly not listening to the hundreds of Coloradans pleading with him to not take away a woman's right to choose life for her preborn child, and the thousands of people who have advocated against all four abortion bills over the last two years."
In addition to the three bills in April, Polis previously signed a bill expanding abortion access in the state last year.
A Catholic-based health care clinic in Colorado filed a lawsuit in response to the law barring them from offering progesterone in an attempt to stop the effects of a medication abortion, sometimes called abortion pill reversal. A federal judge granted a temporary injunction blocking the state from enforcing the law for 14 days as its case plays out.
"We opened Bella because of our belief that life is a precious gift from God, worthy of protection at all stages," Dede Chism, nurse practitioner, cofounder and CEO at Bella Health and Wellness, said in a statement. "When a woman seeks our help to reverse the effects of the abortion pill, we have a religious obligation to offer every available option for her and her child."
"All we want is to continue our ministry of serving expecting mothers in need, regardless of circumstance," Abby Sinnett, nurse practitioner, co-founder and chief operating officer, said. "In their most vulnerable state, a pregnant woman needs to know that she and her unborn child will be treated with the utmost dignity and care."
In Kansas, Kelly vetoed a "born-alive infants protection act" on April 14, arguing the bill is "misleading and unnecessary."
"Federal law already protects newborns, and the procedure being described in this bill does not exist in Kansas in the era of modern medicine," Kelly said in a statement. "The intent of this bill is to interfere in medical decisions that should remain between doctors and their patients."
However, the bill passed the Kansas House and Senate by large majorities, and legislators likely have enough votes to override Kelly's veto should they attempt to do so.
Danielle Underwood, director of communications for Kansans for Life, said in a statement, "Legislators from both sides of the aisle stood together to state the simple fact that babies born alive after an attempted abortion should not be left to die on a cold, steel table."
"These babies deserve protection and the same medical care as any other newborn of the same gestational age," Underwood said. "This once again proves how out of touch Gov. Kelly is with the values of the people of Kansas. We now call on all Kansans to urge their legislators to do the right thing and override Gov. Kelly's heartless veto."