The Colorado Women’s Bar Association (CWBA) is outraged by the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade, which abolishes a 50-year-old constitutional right and flouts the rule of law. This ruling robs millions of Americans of a fundamental, protected right to make their own reproductive health decisions, including whether and when to carry a pregnancy to term. The decision significantly diminishes the right to bodily integrity and self-determination and calls into question all Americans’ privacy rights, including the right to use contraception and to marry whomever they want, irrespective of race or gender.
The Dobbs decision will disproportionately affect people of color, economically disadvantaged people, and all other people who face discrimination in the health care system. Additionally, it will enable individual states to force women and girls who are victims of rape and incest to carry pregnancies to term, subjecting them to further psychological and potentially physical harm. Pregnant women who are the victims of domestic violence will face additional dangers, as pregnant women in the United States are murdered at the hands of their intimate partners. Indeed, femicide causes more deaths of pregnant women in the United States than any other pregnancy-related causes.
Fortunately, Colorado passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act this year, and the right to abortion is statutorily protected in Colorado. However, women’s rights in several neighboring states are not protected. The CWBA will continue to fight relentlessly to protect the rights of women and girls in Colorado, to uphold all persons’ rights to privacy, dignity, and self-determination, and to defend everyone affected by this decision.
The words of the Fourteenth Amendment are simple and intentionally vague: “[no] state [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law[.]” Yet, the majority’s decision in Dobbs embraces a strained originalist interpretation based on societal norms that existed centuries ago to the detriment of us all. We have evolved as a society since the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 and when the Constitution was written in 1787. At the time of those seminal events, the rights articulated in those texts pertained to people like our Founding Fathers, it did not pertain to women, persons of color, and people of the LGBTQ+ community, among others. As our country and society evolved, so did the Court’s constitutional interpretations to expand the scope of all Americans’ liberty interests, including the rights to personal dignity and autonomy.
The CWBA affirms and restates its dedication to the right to personal liberty, privacy, and the protection of reproductive rights, health, and justice. Denying reproductive freedom negatively impacts the education, career, financial future, health, and safety of all who may become pregnant. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that: “when government controls that decision for her, [women are] treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.” The authors of the dissent echoed these words, emphasizing that “[a] State can thus transform what, when freely undertaken, is a wonder into what, when forced, may be a nightmare.”
The Dobbs decision will have a direct effect on Colorado as one of the few “safe haven” states in the region: according to Adrienne Mansanares, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, approximately half of the abortion procedures performed at the Park Hill clinic are performed on pregnant people traveling from Texas. Likewise, per Cobalt Advocates, approximately one-third (1/3) of practical support and funding for abortion procedures dispensed since September 1, 2021, have gone towards women and pregnant people traveling from out of state. We must get serious about the protection of law and what access to abortion means for Colorado.
HOW TO HELP
Join us for a virtual brainstorming session on Thursday, June 30, at 12 p.m. to identify ways we can help women in Colorado’s neighboring states who will be impacted by the Dobbs decision. To register: https://www.cwba.org/event-4876289
Abortion must be safe, legal, and accessible. The CWBA will continue to fight for that right and the privacy rights that are central to our lives.