07/12/2013 08:30 am ET Updated Sep 11, 2013

North Carolina, Texas, Colorado: Why Abortion & Reproductive Rights Matter


I joined NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado as its Executive Director on June 1. One of the questions I get from friends and colleagues is whether protecting a woman's right to choose remains important 40 years after the passage of Roe v. Wade. The answer is an emphatic YES.

In my first weeks on the job, a 20-week abortion ban passed in the U.S. House, the Texas governor called a second special session to force through restrictive abortion laws, Wisconsin's governor signed a mandatory sonogram measure into law on July 5 and anti-choice North Carolina legislators literally snuck bad bills into unrelated legislation with no public notice. These are not isolated instances.

According to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute,

In the first six months of this year, state legislatures have already enacted 106 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. That includes 43 provisions restricting abortion access -- as many as were enacted during the entire year in 2012.

At a time when jobs and the economy, education, and health care are the priorities on the minds of most voters, THIS is what legislators think is important?

Clearly, who makes policy matters -- and who WE decide should make policy matters. And this is why NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado's work is so important. There's a reason Colorado is *not* on the list of states passing these laws. And don't think it couldn't happen here: 20 years ago, Texas was a pro-choice state with Ann Richards as governor. That's why we are fighting so hard in Colorado to protect our rights and standing with Wendy Davis and the women of Texas, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and North Dakota.

But even in Colorado, there are still significant gaps in the services available to women across our state, whether it is a patchwork of prevention services, arbitrary policy restrictions on certain life-saving procedures, or education about family planning. The picture is particularly grim for poor women who are the least able to access services that have an immediate impact on their economic opportunity and physical health. We want to change that.

In the coming weeks, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado will be releasing a scorecard of elected officials and their record supporting -- or not -- women's reproductive health care and abortion rights. You should know who stands with you. And who doesn't.

Be a part of our movement. We will be coming to your neighborhood soon, and we want to introduce you to your like-minded neighbors, your supportive elected officials, and share cutting edge information about research about how Colorado could better serve our women and families. We want to share the stories of choices Colorado women are facing, and which choices they cannot access under the current state laws.

The best defense is a good offense, and we intend to be on the offense in Colorado. There's a newfound energy in the pro-choice movement, and I hear it every day from doctors, from students, from business owners, from women, and yes, from the men of Colorado. This matters to all of us, and I am proud to be leading the work of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado.