🔥🔥 Colorado lawmakers consider protections for out-of-state abortion seekers

From left to right: Lauren Miller, Anna Zargarian, Amanda Zurawski, and Lauren Hall, who all sued the state of Texas when they were denied abortions, at the State Capitol in Austin on March 7, 2023. Five women who say they were denied abortions despite grave risks to their lives or the lives of their fetuses sued on March 6. (Photo by Photo by Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times)

When Lauren Miller found out she was pregnant at the end of July, she wrote a journal entry about how she hoped her pregnancy would be as uncomplicated as her last, especially because of the fall of Roe v. Wade.

“If it’s not, I want to be able to share what I’m going through,” the Dallas woman wrote. “I hate the ‘don’t tell anyone until the second trimester so you don’t have to tell about a miscarriage’ mentality.”

Miller, whose date of pregnancy is listed as June 24 — the same day as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision — later found out she was having twins. It came as a welcome surprise because she wanted to have three kids and already had a 20-month-old toddler.

But the pregnancy did not go smoothly as she’d hoped. In September, the Millers got the news that one of the twins had Trisomy 18, and not only was the baby not going to make it, but it was putting her and the other baby at higher risk each day. However, because of Texas laws criminalizing abortions, she couldn’t get one and instead had the procedure in Colorado. Due to Texas law, Miller worried she or others involved could be prosecuted or face a civil suit. That’s why she testified remotely at a Colorado Senate committee hearing Wednesday in support of SB23-188, a bill to protect the privacy of patients and providers of Colorado abortions and gender-affirming care.

The bill mandates that the state not cooperate with out-of-state criminal or civil investigations, including prohibiting the issuance of subpoenas or warrants and preventing police from arresting or participating in the arrest of anyone over any health care activity that’s protected in Colorado. It also protects health care providers from adverse actions against them or their licensures and prohibits medical malpractice insurers from taking action against providers over protected health care activity.

Lawmakers introduced this bill to shield clinicians, pharmacists and patients from laws like those in Texas and other states criminalizing abortions and gender-affirming care. Colorado joins states that have passed similar legislation, including New York, California and Washington.

In Texas, where Miller lives, the state enacted a six-week abortion ban in 2021 that allows people to sue abortion providers or who “aid and abet” an abortion. If a lawsuit is successful, a person could be fined at least $10,000. After Roe was reversed, a trigger law also went into effect that made it a crime to provide an abortion, punishable up to life in prison and a civil penalty of not less than $100,000, plus attorney fees. The attorney general has said he wants to go after “abortion tourism.” So, Miller had reason to worry.

“Our health care is haunted by a bounty system,” the Dallas woman told Colorado lawmakers Wednesday.

For weeks, problem after problem arose with Miller’s pregnancy last fall, but she said doctors remained vague in response to her questions and apologized for not being able to speak openly. Despite this, all the doctors and genetic counselors she spoke to agreed the baby wouldn’t make it. And Miller was getting sicker and sicker by the day.

“These laws are really designed to turn people against each other and to sow mistrust. And so for us, it was scary trying to get information,” she said.

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