Colorado Makes Abortion and Birth Control More Accessible

Colorado expanded access to reproductive health care for survivors of sexual violence and undocumented immigrants.

Photo of physician talking to patient
Medicaid recipients in Colorado will now be able to get a year’s worth of birth control at once. Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill last Tuesday to expand contraceptive coverage to undocumented immigrants. It was the state’s latest move to protect reproductive health access, after a legislative session that made abortion more accessible for survivors of sexual violence.

The bill, SB 9, ensures undocumented Coloradans can access affordable and free birth control and other family planning services. Medicaid recipients in the state will now be allowed to get a year’s worth of birth control at once, regardless of their immigration status.

This makes Colorado one of only a few states to offer reproductive health benefits to undocumented residents.

And in May, Polis signed SB 142 into law, ensuring that rape survivors who become pregnant can access abortion care anywhere in the state. The law undoes a decades-old restriction that required survivors to travel to a facility that Medicaid approves in order to access abortion covered by public health insurance.

Madeleine Schmidt wrote about the restriction for Rewire News Group in March:

The few patients who do qualify for a Medicaid-covered abortion can only get care at a hospital. Because most hospitals only offer abortion during medical emergencies, the only option available for low-income Coloradans who use Medicaid and become pregnant after surviving sexual violence is in Denver … For those living in rural parts of the state, the restriction forces them to make a long and costly journey rather than getting care at a more convenient local abortion provider.

“A patient’s income or ZIP code should never determine their access to quality health care,” Dr. Kristina Tocce, vice president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in a statement. “This new law eliminates additional stress, expense, and inequality.”

2021 has been the most volatile year for abortion restrictions in decades. Lawmakers across the country have enacted a whopping 90 restrictions since January. Only a few states have, like Colorado, taken legislative steps to protect abortion access.

Reproductive health providers and advocates hope more state lawmakers will look to Colorado as an example when it comes to protecting access—a charge more critical than ever, as a Supreme Court stacked with conservative judges prepares to hear a case that could upend abortion rights.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.