Gov. Jared Polis issues executive order protecting out-of-state patients seeking abortions


Boram Kim


Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order directing state agencies to protect access to reproductive health on Wednesday. 


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State agencies now have the authority to protect providers, medical workers, and patients against professional and legal sanctions of violating other states’ abortion laws. 

The order directs officials to provide those protections to out-of-state patients who come to Colorado for abortions, or groups and individuals who help people cross state lines to get the procedure.

Under the directive, Colorado will not assist any out-of-state investigations involving abortion providers or recipients, as long as the parties have abided by Colorado state law. 

“We are taking needed action to protect and defend individual freedom and protect the privacy of Coloradans,” Polis said in a statement.

“This important step will ensure that Colorado’s thriving economy and workforce are not impacted based on personal health decisions that are wrongly being criminalized in other states.”

Colorado stands as an abortion sanctuary state in the region as bordering states move to restrict both intrastate and interstate abortion. 

For instance, Missouri has introduced a bill that would enforce abortion restrictions through civil lawsuits if the procedure is administered across its state lines.

Legal experts predict more and more states will move to pass travel bans for abortion care now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. Research cited in a February paper from 123 Columbia Law Review, titled “The New Abortion Battleground,” highlighted the legal complexities that would emerge in a post-Roe nation.

“Overturning Roe will create a novel world of complex, interjurisdictional legal conflicts over abortion. Some states will pass laws banning their citizens from out-of-state abortions while others will pass laws insulating their providers from out-of-state prosecutions … Ultimately, once the constitutional protection for pre-viability abortion disappears, the impending battles over abortion access will transport the half-century war over Roe into a new arena, one that will make abortion jurisprudence more complex than ever before.”

Clinics across Colorado, which were already seeing an increase in out-of-state women seeking abortions even prior to the Supreme Court decision, are now seeing increases across the board, some as high as 3 times the number of daily interstate appointments than before.