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After marathon debates, Colorado Democrats pass bill aiming to protect abortion access 

Colorado Democrats have approved a bill they say will help protect unrestricted access to abortions in the state if the U.S. Supreme Court decides to remove protections for the procedure.

The Reproductive Health Equity Act was one of the most debated bills at the state Capitol in modern history.

In the House, lawmakers debated the bill for 24 consecutive hours.

"No one should have their own most personal medical decisions controlled by politicians like us, neighbors, or complete strangers, and that's what's happening across the country,” House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, said.

The bill is Democrats' response to Texas and Florida passing laws to restrict abortion access.

Sen. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, s a id it will help women far beyond Colorado as more states weigh restrictions.

"We have already seen a significant increase of people coming to Colorado to get the care that they need," she said. "They are driving here through the night from Texas while their kids are driving in the backseat because politicians have made the care they need illegal."

Gov. Jared Polis s a id he will sign it.

The b ill says Colorado residents have a "fundamental right" to the procedure, and fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses do not have independent rights under state law.

Republicans spent hours trying to stop the legislation from advancing.

Kristi Burton Brown, the chairwoman of the state's Republican party, called the bill "barbaric" in a statement shortly after it passed on Wednesday.

"This is a dark day for the Colorado Democrat Party and any individual who respects the sanctity of life," she said.

Earlier this session, Republican lawmakers sponsored several bills aiming to ban or severely limit the procedure. But the bills were blocked by Democrats.

Copyright 2022 KUNC. To see more, visit KUNC.

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.