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Colorado’s law guarantees an individual’s right to use or refuse contraceptives, to continue a pregnancy and give birth, or to have an abortion.
Abortions that take place later in a pregnancy are rare; less than 1% of abortions occur at or later than 21 weeks gestation.
While state lawmakers in Oklahoma and Texas are pushing to restrict abortion access, this week Colorado became the latest state to guarantee the right to have an abortion. However, social media posts have misconstrued what the state’s new law will do.
On April 4, when Colorado’s measure was signed into law, anti-abortion activist Lila Rose tweeted, "BREAKING: Colorado Governor Jared Polis has just signed into law a bill legalizing abortions through all nine months, up until the moment of birth." A screenshot of her tweet was shared on Facebook a day later by Republican Ben Carson, who served as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Trump administration.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The Reproductive Health Equity Act that Polis signed into law this week affirms an individual’s right to contraceptives and an abortion. It says that a government entity may not "deny, restrict, interfere with or discriminate against an individual’s fundamental right to use or refuse contraception or to continue a pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion."
These reproductive health protections already existed in Colorado, but now they are codified in the state’s statute. This means that in the event the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade precedent, access to contraceptives and an abortion will remain protected in Colorado. The new law also protects against attempts by local governments to restrict abortion access.
Colorado’s law protects the right to have an abortion and does not make distinctions or regulations around a time or stage during pregnancy.
Roe v. Wade banned states from prohibiting women from terminating pregnancy before viability, a standard that was defined in a later Supreme Court decision to mean when "in the judgment of the attending physician on the particular facts of the case before him, there is a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the womb, with or without artificial support."
While viability is determined on a case-by-case basis and dependent on a variety of factors including gestational age and fetal weight, a baby that is in the process of being born — or "moments before birth" — is unlikely to meet the standard under which abortion is legal.
Most abortions take place early on in a person’s pregnancy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 93% of abortions in 2019 took place at or before 13 weeks gestation. About 6% occur between 14 and 20 weeks gestation.
Abortions being performed later in a pregnancy are rare; less than 1% occur at 21 weeks gestation or later, according to the CDC. Abortions around 21 weeks are often difficult to obtain because the procedure is costly, time-sensitive and only performed by a small subset of abortion providers.
A screenshot of a tweet shared on Facebook claimed: "Colorado Governor Jared Polis has just signed into law a bill legalizing abortions through all nine months, up until the moment of birth."
Colorado’s new law codifies existing protections around an individual’s right to use or refuse contraceptives, continue with a pregnancy and give birth, or to have an abortion.
Abortions that occur later in a pregnancy — at 21 weeks gestation or later — are rare.
We rate this claim False.
Twitter post, April 4, 2022
Facebook post, April 5, 2022
Colorado Legislature, "Reproductive Health Equity Act," accessed April 6, 2022
The Colorado Sun, "Colorado governor signs bill affirming abortion, contraception access into law," April 4, 2022
NPR, "The right to abortion in Colorado is now guaranteed under state law," April 5, 2022
CBS News, "Colorado governor signs bill codifying the right to abortion in state law," April 4, 2022
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Abortion Surveillance—Findings and Reports," accessed April 6, 2022
Kaiser Family Foundation, "Abortions Later in Pregnancy," Dec. 5, 2019
Guttmacher Institute, "Induced Abortion in the United States," September 2019
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