COLORADO, USA — Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains estimates that 20 million women could be without access to abortion care if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Colorado is one of more than a dozen states that have laws that offer some kind of protection from statewide abortion bans. Gov. Jared Polis signed the legislation last month to affirm the right to abortion care regardless of whatever action the U.S. Supreme Court plans to take this year.
> Watch: What could happen next if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade?
CU Boulder assistant professor Amanda Jean Stevenson studies the impacts and responses to abortion and family planning policy.
Her latest research indicates if the United States did a complete abortion ban and people who wanted an abortion were all forced to remain pregnant, there would be an increase in maternal deaths by 21%.
"It would be even higher among Black women because of their rates in maternal morbidity and mortality are so much higher due to pregnancy-related causes from things like structural racism," her colleague Kate Coleman-Minahan, an assistant professor at the College of Nursing, said.
"The right to decide if and when to parent is an essential human right and it is essential to our liberty and our dignity. We truly won’t have liberty in our lives if we are forced to continue a pregnancy or parent when that’s something we don’t want to do."
While those in Colorado can still seek abortion care due to the state's recent law, if Roe v. Wade is overturned, resources could be strained.
9NEWS spoke to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains CEO Adrienne Mansanares about the potential impact.
What was your reaction to hearing the news on Monday night?
Mansanares: The big difference here is that we are now convinced that the national government, the national legislative office does not have the needs of our patients in mind and so that means we are on our own and that means the supporters and the patients and our employees in states like Colorado and New Mexico and the regions where people can access this care really have to remain strong be sure that we’re voting, be sure that we’re reaching to make sure patients know they can come to our health centers, that’s what’s so very disappointing.
To see something being leaked from the SCOTUS that has such hateful language, such derisive adjectives being used again against our patients, against our staff that’s pretty devastating.
I think it’s important to know we’re prepared for this moment. I don’t think we had much hope that we were going to get a verdict that upholds the constitutional right to abortion care, but it happened very quickly. But this shove, this movement that we have with this leaked document just escalates the stress that our patients are already feeling.
Numbers-wise, what kind of impact will Colorado expect with out-of-state people coming in to seek abortion care?
Mansanares: We know that 20 or so states would go dark after a SCOTUS ruling to not provide abortion care. That puts about 20 million people out of access to abortion care. So that’s frightening.
We also, through projections, believe that about 300,000 or so patients every year will be seeking that care within our region and again at PPRM we are here for our patients but we can’t triple the number of patients that we are able to see, especially this quickly.
How does the landscape for abortion care change here in Colorado? Will we see an expansion in services?
Mansanares: Absolutely, we need more and more providers who are offering up this really important care for patients. Right now, people are able to get an appointment in any of our health centers, we also provide via telehealth.
We are not going to be able to sustain the kind of need that we’ll see from across the country. So the short-term need, immediate right now, for the impact in Colorado, is to have more providers providing this care and make sure everyone is providing financial support or emotional support to folks and their families who may be receiving this care.
The long-term implications are very real and in my mind, very scary. What this means is that the people of Colorado who have so beautifully said abortion care is a human right and receiving healthcare in Colorado is a human right. We have got to keep on that message. We cannot just rely on generations of federally-held laws or a constitutional mandate, that's no longer here. That safety net is gone. This means it is up to people in Colorado to remain strong, robust and compassionate in our message over and over again. It says that reproductive healthcare in Colorado is a freedom and a right and we will stand next to those patients.
9NEWS also spoke to Marcie Little, the founder and executive director of Colorado for Life. Little does not support the right to an abortion.
Was Monday night's news celebratory for you?
Little: I think as a nation we should celebrate. I think people in Colorado should celebrate even though initially it doesn’t change anything for our state, but it’s a huge win and a huge pro-life victory for a movement that’s been slandered and attacked for decades just for trying to protect innocent life. So, it’s a huge win for pro-lifers, we should celebrate and we should realize our work is in some ways just beginning, so we got to get to work.
I’m really hoping whatever pressure that the justices are facing, that they stand on principle and on the decision that they already made and I’m looking forward to seeing that decision come out officially from the court when they rule on this.
Why do you think Roe v. Wade should be overturned?
Little: I believe life begins at conception and I believe that the Supreme Court has ruled incorrectly and unjustly in ways in the past and so I think to say well, Roe v. Wade is precedent and we need to stick with that. I think it’s a faulty argument. It’s possible for the Supreme Court to make mistakes and I’m glad that they’ve realized that Roe v. Wade was a mistake, not only because we’ve lost close to 60 million lives since Roe v. Wade was handed down initially, but because women have been negatively impacted as well.
People don’t often talk about the mental health aspect of women, not only when they’re making their decision, but after they’ve decided to have an abortion. They’re told it’s a liberating freeing decision and they shouldn’t feel any negative feelings as a result and the fact is that they do.
I’m excited about Roe being overturned if that is the decision that stands because it actually is going to be liberating for women. They’re going to be free from that external pressure.
Are you concerned the justices may feel pressure from the coverage of this draft leak and change their decision?
Little: That's the speculation I've seen today. That was one of the first thoughts that came to my mind. Obviously, we don't know motive, we don't know why it was leaked. But we do know when information is leaked it does produce a lot of pressure.
We live in a cancel culture age, we live in a doxing age, and so releasing the information before the court was fully prepared to can pose a threat to the justices. We don't know what that threat looks like, we don't know any of that. But that is what I've been thinking today, that is what I've been reading from other people and I think it's a very real concern.
It's a concern also for the precedence it sets. Like I mentioned earlier, a decision has been leaked ahead of the Supreme Court making their decision and releasing their decision, so I think it poses a threat to the nature of our legal system, like are we going to allow this kind of thing to continue in the future? What are the consequences? How do we prevent it from happening so that we do maintain integrity within our highest court to make sure our decisions can be judicial, they can be based on face and not on public pressure.
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