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State Laws

Colorado


Political Information

Executive (Governor)

Pro-choice

Senate

Pro-choice

House

Pro-choice

Abortion-Care Policies

Abortion Providers

No state measure.

Abortion Rights

No state measure.

Biased Counseling

No state measure.

Mandatory Delays

No state measure.

Insurance Coverage for Abortion

Prohibits Abortion Coverage for Public Employees

Does Colorado expressly prohibit insurance plans for public employees from covering abortion services?

Yes.  The Colorado attorney general issued an opinion stating that, pursuant to the state constitutional prohibition on the use of state funds for abortion except when necessary to save a woman’s life, employee health-insurance policies provided by the state must exclude coverage for abortion, with an exception only to save a woman’s life.  Nothing in the law prohibits the purchase of abortion coverage through an optional rider for which an additional premium is paid.  However, insurers are not required to offer such riders and there is no evidence that such separate policies exist. (Even if they did exist, offering women the "option" to pay for separate abortion coverage is a false promise because no one plans for an unplanned pregnancy.)  Colo. Op. Att’y Gen. No. OLS8500339/ANY (Feb. 6, 1985); Colo. Const. art. V, § 50 (Enacted 1984).


Abortion Coverage for Low-Income People

Restricts 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).


Young People & Abortion

Parental Notice

Colorado law restricts young women’s access to abortion.

Is the law enforceable?  Yes.

Who is considered a minor?  A young woman under the age of 18.

What is required – parental consent or parental notice?  Notice.

Who must be notified?  Two parents, with exceptions.

Are there other trusted adults who may be notified instead?  Yes, but only if the young woman is not living with her parents and is living with one of those adult relatives.

What is the process for providing notification?  A young woman may not obtain an abortion until at least 48 hours after written notice has been delivered personally or by certified mail by the attending physician to one of her parents.  If the parents reside together, delivery to one parent shall constitute delivery to both.  If the parents do not reside together and the young woman requests that only one parent be notified, that request shall be honored.  If notice is sent by certified mail, the 48-hour period begins to run at noon on the next day on which regular mail delivery takes place.  Whenever the parents are separately served notice, the 48-hour period begins upon delivery of the first notice.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of rape or incest?  No.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman is a victim of child abuse?  Yes, if the young woman declares she is a victim of child abuse or neglect by a person entitled to notice and the attending physician has reported such child abuse or neglect.

May the parental mandate be waived if a young woman’s health is threatened?  Yes, but only if a medical emergency exists.  A medical emergency is defined as a medical condition of the young woman that necessitates an immediate abortion to preserve her life or for which a delay will create "a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

May the parental mandate be waived under any other circumstances?  Yes, the young woman may try to obtain permission from a judge.

If a young woman must obtain permission from a judge, what is the process?  She must secure a court order stating either that parental notice is not in her best interests or that, by clear and convincing evidence, she is sufficiently mature to decide whether to have an abortion.

Are there other significant requirements under the law?  No.

Has a court considered the constitutionality of this law?  No.

Other information about the law:  An earlier version of this law was enacted by a ballot initiative.  A court held that version of the law was unconstitutional because it failed to provide a health exception and issued a permanent injunction prohibiting its enforcement.  Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Servs. Corp. v. Owens, 287 F.3d 910 (10th Cir. 2002).  In response to the court decision, the state legislature enacted supplemental language that provides a medical-emergency exception, expands the list of adults to whom notification may be given, and establishes a judicial-bypass procedure.  The law is now in effect.

In addition, Colorado’s pre-Roe abortion law provides that an unmarried minor under 18 may not obtain an abortion without the consent of one parent.  Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-6-101(1) (Enacted 1967), § 18-6-102 (Enacted 1967).  A court held that this parental-consent requirement is unconstitutional.  Foe v. Vanderhoof, 389 F. Supp. 947 (D. Colo. 1975).

Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 13-22-701 to -708 (Enacted by Initiative 1998; Renumbered 2018)


Family-Planning Policies

Insurance Coverage & Contraception

Supports Insurance Coverage of Contraception

Colorado law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide the same coverage for contraception.

What is required?  All health-insurance policies must cover contraception in the same manner as any other sickness, injury, disease, or condition that is otherwise covered under the policy.

To which insurance plans does the law apply?  The law applies to all group and individual sickness and accident insurance policies issued or renewed within the state to an employer as of January 1, 2011.

Does the law provide additional protections for women?  Yes.  The law ensures that insurers offering individual sickness and accident insurance plans cover maternity care.  Supplemental policies covering a specific disease or other limited benefit are exempt.  The law, however, does permit insurance plans in the individual market to exclude coverage for an existing pregnancy if a woman is pregnant on the date the policy is issued.  This exclusion cannot apply to subsequent pregnancies.

Does the law contain a refusal clause, allowing certain employers and/or insurers to refuse to provide or pay for contraceptive coverage?  No.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-16-104 (3)(a)(I) (Enacted 2010).


Improves Insurance Coverage of Contraception

Colorado law requires health-insurance plans to cover dispensing of a 12-month supply of FDA-approved, self-administered contraceptives.

What is required?  Health-insurance plans must reimburse pharmacies and other dispensing entities for dispensing up to a 12-month supply of contraceptives.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 10-16-104.2 (Enacted 2017).


Contraception Coverage for Low-Income People

Improves Insurance Coverage of Contraception

Colorado appropriated funds in 2019 to allow Medicaid clients to receive a 12 month supply on contraceptives. S.B. 113, 72nd Gen. Assemb., 2019 Reg. Sess. (Colo. 2019).


Emergency Contraception

EC in the ER

Colorado law requires that sexual-assault survivors receive information about emergency contraception (EC) in hospital emergency rooms.  The law requires Colorado hospitals to amend existing protocols to include informing sexual-assault survivors about the proper use and availability of EC as a means of preventing pregnancy.  

This law includes a refusal clause that allows any health-care professional to refuse to provide information about EC on the basis of religious or moral objections.

Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-3-110 (Enacted 2007).


Other Important Issues

Clinic Protections

Clinic Protections

A person who knowingly approaches within eight feet of another person without his or her consent within 100 feet of a health-care-facility entrance for the purpose of passing a leaflet, displaying a sign, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling, or who knowingly impedes another person’s entry to or exit from a health-care facility, commits a class 3 misdemeanor.  Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-9-122 (Enacted 1993).

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the challenged portion of this statute, the no-approach zone, is constitutional.  Hill v. Colorado, 530 U.S. 703 (2000).

A person may recover damages and obtain injunctive relief from any person who commits or incites others to commit the offense.  Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13-21-106.7 (Enacted 1993).


Refusals & Guarantees

Refusals of Medical Care

ABORTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Colorado allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide abortion services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Hospitals, hospital staff members or individuals associated with or employed by a hospital.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Allows hospital staff members or individuals associated with or employed by a hospital, who object in writing on moral or religious grounds, to refuse to participate in medical procedures that result in an abortion.  The refusal of a person to participate may not be a basis for recriminatory action.  Allows hospitals to refuse to admit a woman for the purpose of providing abortion services.

Must the refusal be in writing?  Yes.  Moral or religious objections to participating in medical procedures that result in an abortion must be in writing.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for abortion services?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.

Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-6-104 (Enacted 1967; Last Amended 1971).

CONTRACEPTION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Colorado allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide contraceptive procedures, supplies, or information.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Private institutions, physicians, and agents or employees of private institutions or physicians.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Private institutions or physicians and agents or employees of such institutions or physicians may refuse to provide contraceptive procedures, supplies, and information based on religious or conscientious objection.  The refusal of an institution, employee, agent, or physician may not be the basis for liability.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for contraceptive procedures, supplies, or information?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.

Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-6-102 (Enacted 2008).

FAMILY-PLANNING REFUSAL CLAUSE

Colorado allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to provide family-planning services.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  County and city employees.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Any county employee or city and county employee who objects on religious grounds may refuse to provide family-planning services.  Such refusal should not be the basis for any disciplinary action, discrimination, or loss in pay or other benefits.

Does the law require the refusing entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for family-planning services? No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause? No.

Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-6-207 (Enacted 1965).

STERILIZATION REFUSAL CLAUSE

Colorado allows certain individuals or entities to refuse to perform or participate in sterilization procedures.

To whom does the refusal clause apply?  Individuals and hospitals.

What does the refusal clause allow?  Allows hospitals or individuals to refuse to participate in a sterilization.  The refusal to participate may not be the basis for civil or criminal liability.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to notify the persons affected?  No.

Are there circumstances under which a refusal clause may not be exercised?  No.

Does the law require the refusing individual or entity to provide medically and factually accurate information or provide a referral for sterilizing procedures?  No.

Does the law provide a mechanism for women to otherwise obtain specific reproductive-health services, information, or referrals if an individual and/or entity exercises a refusal clause?  No.

Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 27-10.5-132 (Enacted 1975).


Counseling & Referral Bans

No state measure.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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