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I never wanted to have children. As a young teenager, I realized I didn’t feel like I was mom material—and I was OK with that. People said I’d feel differently when I got older, but my conviction has remained unwavering. Until recently, though, I hadn’t spent much time thinking about why I had always been so confident that I wouldn’t ever have to change my mind. That is, until the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block a prohibitive Texas abortion law in September and subsequently signaled it might uphold a restrictive law in Mississippi, a ruling that could essentially overturn Roe v. Wade and dismantle Americans’ right to an abortion.
Born in 1979—six years after the Roe ruling—I have only lived in a reality in which, should something unexpected happen, I would have the choice to continue being childless. As of September 1, 2021, people with uteruses in Texas no longer have that option. Texas’ Senate Bill 8 makes abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat has been detected; that usually happens around six weeks of pregnancy, when many don’t even know they’re pregnant. Since the law only applies to those in the Lone Star State, its passage forces Texans with unwanted pregnancies to cross state lines for help. Many are coming to Colorado.
For this issue, Ciara O’Rourke not only explored how the Texas law has had an impact on Centennial State abortion providers’ abilities to care for an influx of patients, but she also looked at how our state’s long history of relatively liberal access to the procedure might inform decisions in the potentially post-Roe days to come. In “The Past, Present, And Future Of Abortion In Colorado,” O’Rourke reminds us that the rights we believe we are entitled to under the Constitution can be remarkably impermanent.
I’m past my prime childbearing years, so changes to abortion laws would be unlikely to affect me personally. Still, I think about all the young people out there who should be able to live their lives without fearing that an accidental pregnancy could derail who they do or do not want to be. Without fully realizing it, I wore that assurance like a suit of armor. In the coming months, it will be up to Coloradans to decide if we want to continue to protect that sense of security for our residents.