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In conservative, diverse Weld County, communities consider next steps on abortion

Long before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, patients have been traveling from Wyoming to Planned Parenthood in Greeley for reproductive healthcare.
Odaliz Gaytan
Long before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, patients have been traveling from Wyoming to Planned Parenthood in Greeley for reproductive healthcare.

After the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion one month ago, some in Colorado are now working to expand access to abortion, while others are trying to push back.

In August, Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine, who is also a former Republican candidate for Colorado’s new 8th congressional district, plans to introduce a pro-life resolution that asserts unborn children have a right to life and liberty because they should be included as “people” in the Colorado Constitution.

“Not a lot of concrete changes as far as the role of government,” Saine said. “It’s just a shift in philosophy and attitude. We are affirming that all life has value, starting from that point.”

Saine remembers speaking with women who have had deep regrets about their abortions and suffered mental health impacts from those experiences.

According to a recent draft Saine shared with KUNC, the resolution does not appear to prompt a legal challenge to Colorado’s new Reproductive Health Equity Law which affirms the right to abortion in the state. The Weld County Board of Commissioners decided against considering a similar resolution in April; it did not get enough votes for the resolution be added to their agenda.

Commissioner Scott James declined to comment directly on the draft resolution but said that county government has no role in the issue of abortion.

“It is a matter of state law now, a woman's access to abortion,” James said. “It is simply not the purview or the role of county government to discuss that. We don't usurp state law.”

The Weld Faith Partnership Council, made up of mostly Christian faith organizations, is a group the commissioners consult with on topics like housing and adoption. Abortion has been on the agenda for the past few months; they have discussed the resolution and the role of county government.

“I asked them, separate from the abortion issue, to talk about that which might be available in the faith community, in the nonprofit community, and truly through the Weld Department of Public Health of what might be available as far as resources go for a woman who was experiencing an unintended pregnancy and chose life,” James, the board liaison, said.

Meanwhile, people are still traveling to Colorado for abortions, where they are still available and legal. But the expenses and logistics involved in traveling out of state, or even to a different part of Colorado do shut out some who seek abortions, especially those who are low-income, or people of color.

In Weld County, and elsewhere across the Front Range, some who are traveling across state lines for care are in significant distress and dealing with financial issues.

The Colorado chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) has been getting phone calls from council presidents and directors in other states such Texas, Arizona, Wyoming asking for information on abortion clinics, asking where they are located and how easy is it to access those services.

Sonny Subia, the Greeley-based Colorado State Director for LULAC, said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling from a civil rights and equity perspective. And even though 30% of Weld County residents are Hispanic and Latino, he stressed that part of the community doesn’t all share the same opinion.

“The Hispanic community is not monolithic, and the Latino community is very religious and very Catholic,” Sonny Subia, the Greeley-based Colorado State Director for the League of United Latin American Citizens. “And so there are Latinos and and Hispanics in our county that agreed with the ruling. But there are a lot of other young, younger Hispanics that don't agree with it.”

As KUNC's Senior Editor and Reporter, my job is to find out what’s important to northern Colorado residents and why. I seek to create a deeper sense of urgency and understanding around these issues through in-depth, character driven daily reporting and series work.
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