Medical professionals administered 14,154 abortions in Colorado in 2022 — the most in the state since 1985.
More abortions were performed on people coming into the state for the procedure, according to a 9Wants to Know review of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment data.
Aurea Bolaños Perea, spokesperson for the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), said the numbers showed that the reproduction rights infrastructure in Colorado can handle increased demand, and that system will only improve.
COLOR works to improve reproductive health access through policy and organizing.
“It means what we have in place -- not only is it great, it’s only going to get better because we have been able to provide this care,” she said.
CDPHE wrote in a data disclaimer that the number of reported abortions for each year is likely an undercount, and procedure tracking improved after 2002.
About two in seven Colorado abortions in 2022 were performed on out-of-state residents. More abortions have been performed on folks that do not live in the Centennial state — 28% of Colorado abortions were performed on visitors in 2022, compared to 12% in 2018.
That is the largest share of Colorado abortions performed on out-of-state residents since 2004. But Perea said even though more abortions were performed on out-of-state residents, Coloradans can still get help.
“Just because there’s an influx to out-of-state people doesn’t mean Coloradans are being turned away from care,” she said.
A representative for Colorado for Life wrote in a statement the numbers show “heartbreaking consequences” of the policies in the state.
Colorado for Life is a nonprofit focused on recruiting, training and mobilizing anti-abortion candidates and activists, according to its website.
“The latest CDPHE abortion numbers show the heartbreaking consequences of Colorado’s radical pro-abortion legislative agenda of the last few years," Marcie Little, Colorado for Life Co-Founder & Executive Director, wrote. "It should horrify Coloradans to know that while other states have acted to save innocent unborn lives, we’ve become THE destination for abortion not just in the United States but around the world."
The surge in out-of-state residents coming to Colorado for abortions is driven by Texans. Doctors administered 2,418 abortions for Texas residents in 2022 — a 938% jump from 233 abortions in 2020.
The number of abortions performed on Texans in Colorado has been steadily increasing since 2020. Texas passed a restrictive abortion law in 2021 that prevents abortions after six weeks and lets people sue anyone who assists with an abortion, according to the Texas Tribune.
Colorado legislators have added additional abortion protections to the state’s laws. Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill that mandates statewide abortion access in April 2022. A law that stops Colorado state agencies from helping abortion investigators from other states was enacted in April 2023.
Six states had more than 100 residents each come to Colorado to get an abortion in 2022.
- Wyoming: 298 abortions
- Oklahoma: 198 abortions
- New Mexico: 145 abortions
- South Dakota: 140 abortions
- Nebraska: 135 abortions
- Kansas: 122 abortions
Lawmakers across the country have chipped away at abortion protections since Roe vs. Wade was overturned in June 2022. According to Axios, 20 states have banned or restricted abortion since the ruling. That includes restrictions in Oklahoma, South Dakota and Nebraska. A Wyoming judge blocked an abortion ban in March.
Perea said people should know there are systems in place to help people get to Colorado for an abortion, but there will continue to be a need for travel funding.
“As we see more bans across the country, we will see this increase of people coming from out of town, and that is OK. That shouldn’t be what stops us from offering care,” she said.
Some demographic trends have held since 2018. The vast majority of those who underwent a Colorado abortion in 2022 were in their 20s, white, childless and unmarried, according to the data. Nearly one in three recipients were 20 to 24 years old. The abortion occurred at eight weeks or less for 66% of people who underwent abortions in 2022.
For more on this story, and others, visit the Denver Gazette's news partner 9News.com.
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