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Restrictions on Low-Income Women's Access to Abortion

Colorado prohibits public funding for abortion for women eligible for state medical assistance for general health care unless the pregnancy is causing a life-endangering circumstance or in cases of sexual assault or incest.  "Life-endangering circumstance" means the presence of a medical or psychiatric condition which represents a serious and substantial threat to the woman's life if the pregnancy continues to term.  10 Colo. Code Regs. 2505-10 § 8.730.1, 8.730.4.A.

An invalid and enjoined provision of the Colorado Constitution and two statutes provide that no public funds may be used to pay for an abortion unless necessary to preserve the woman's life or the life of the unborn child.  Colo. Const. art. 5, §50.

A court held that these provisions conflict with federal law that prohibits participating states from excluding abortion from the Medicaid program in cases rape or incest, as well as life endangerment, and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting their enforcement to the extent that they conflict with federal law.  Hern v. Beye, 57 F.3d 906 (10th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 1011 (1995).

Additionally, in 2003, 2004, and again in the years 2008-2013, the Colorado legislature enacted appropriations bills, with provisions that reiterate the invalid and enjoined laws above.  The unenforceable provisions prohibit the use of public funds for abortion.  These bills allow a narrow exception "to prevent the death of either [the] pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each," only if such an exception is approved by future legislative action. S.B.214, 64th Gen. Assem., 2nd Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2003); H.B.1422, 64th Gen. Assem., 2d Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2004); H.B.1375, 66th Gen. Assem., 2nd Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2008); S.B.259, 67th Gen. Assem., 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2009); H.B.1311, 67th Gen. Assem. 2d Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2010); H.B.1376, 67th Gen. Assem. 2d Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2010); S.B.149, 68th Gen. Assem, 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2011);   S.B.209 , 68th Gen. Assem, 1st Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2011); H.B.1194, 69th Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2011); S.B.149, 69th Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Colo 2011); S.B.209, 69th Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2011); H.B.1335, 70th Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2012); S.B.100, 71st Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2013); S.B.230, 71st Gen. Assem., Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2013).

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