NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
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History of Choice in Colorado

Choice in Colorado

Choice in the United States


The Comstock Laws are enacted, criminalizing the use of the Postal Service to Distribute such items as erotica, contraceptives, and abortifacients.

Individual states and territories, including Colorado, pass obscenity laws criminalizing the possession and sale of such materials.

1876 Colorado becomes the 38th state.

The Denver Birth Control League is founded

Margaret Sanger visits the Denver Birth Control League and meets with its leaders, including founder Ruth Cunningham.

1926 The Denver Birth Control League opens its first clinic at 1720 Emerson Street.
1928 The Denver Birth Control League is incorporated into the OB/GYN outpatient clinic at Denver General Hospital.

Margaret Sanger returns to Denver for a fundraiser.

The US Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Dennett weakens the Comstock laws.

1935 The Denver clinic is relocated to 13th Street and Bannock Street.
1936 The US Supreme Court rules in Margaret Sanger's favor in United States v. One Package, further weakening the Comstock laws.

The American Medical Association (AMA) recognizes birth control as part of a physician's practice

The Boulder Maternal Health Clinic opens.

1941 The Colorado Committee for Planned Parenthood is established, organized by D. Kenneth Rose, the National Director of the Birth Control Federation of America.
1953 The Denver clinic moves to its first dedicated space at 1860 High Street.
1954 The first branch clinic opens in Denver at 29th Street and Curtis Street.

A representative from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America visits Denver and sees over 900 patients

The Denver clinic hires a bilingual social worker to reach out to migrant and other minority communities.

1957 Colorado Planned Parenthood hears a policy statement advocating for providing services to unmarried women as well as married women, but does not extend its services to unmarried women yet.
1960 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants approval for commercial distribution of oral contraception ("the Pill").

Planned Parenthood Federation of America merges with the World Population Emergency Campaign.

Colorado Representative Lela Gilbert rewrites the state's obscenity laws to invalidate the Comstock laws in Colorado.


Colorado Planned Parenthood sees 12,000 patients in a single year.

A Colorado formulate known as the parity factory, which dictated how many children a woman had to have borne before she could receive birth control information or services, is eliminated.


Colorado becomes the first state in the country to provide contraceptive information and services through its public health care system information. Colorado State Senator John Bermingham sponsors and passes Senate Bill 65-232, which authorizes the distribution of contraceptive devices and information through public health departments. 


The US Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut legalizes birth control for married couples.


Colorado becomes the first state in the country to decriminalize abortion. Colorado State Representative Richard "Dick" Lamm and Senator John Bermingham passed House Bill 67-1426 with bipartisan support, liberalizing Colorado's abortion law to allow women to seek abortion voluntarily.  The bill was signed by Governor John Love on April 25, 1967.

The Colorado Association for the Study of Abortion (CASA), the precursor to NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado as it is known today, was founded.  It became recognized by the IRS in September, 1967.


Colorado Planned Parenthood extends services to younger women.

1969  The organization NARAL (originally the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) is formed at a conference in Chicago. 

Title X Family Planning Program is enacted as part of the federal Public Health Service Act.

The state of New York votes to legalize immediate abortion access up to 24 weeks.

The state of Hawaii legalizes abortion up to 20 weeks. 

1971 Colorado passes Senate Bill 230, the Family Planning Act, which allows the Colorado Department of Health to distribute family planning funds to both public and private organizations.
1972 The US Supreme Court ruling in Eistenstadt v. Baird extends the right to birth control as established in Griswold v. Connecticut to unmarried individuals.
1973 Abortion is legalized nationally in the US Supreme Court ruling of Roe v. Wade.
1976 The passage of the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions under Medicaid except under a limited set of circumstances, thus restricting low-income women's access to abortion.

The Colorado Department of Social Services votes to keep funding abortions with public funds.

The constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment is upheld in the US Supreme Court rulings of Maher v. Roe, Beal v. Doe, and Poelker v. Doe.

1979 Ruth Steel, instrumental in lobbying for the abortion liberalization law, founds Alliance for Choice Colorado.
1980 The US Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. McRae further upholds the Hyde Amendment.

NARAL targets Colorado for expansion.

The Colorado Association for the Study of Abortion merges with NARAL to become the Colorado NARAL Foundation.

1983 The US Senate holds its one and only floor vote on a Human Life Amendment, otherwise known as a personhood amendment, proposed by Senators Orrin Hatch and Thomas Eagleton, which failed to pass.
1984 Colorado voters approve Amendment 3 by a margin of less than one percent, making Colorado the first state to halt the use of public funds for abortion with an amendment to the state constitution.
1986 The Colorado NARAL Foundation helps the Boulder City Council pass an ordinance providing a buffer zone between clinic patients and picketers.

A bill to reinstate Medicaid funding for abortion in cases of rape or incest passes both houses of the US Congress, only to be vetoed by President George H.W. Bush.

The US Supreme Court ruling in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services upholds a Missouri law restricting state funds for facilities for abortion.

1990 In Rust v. Sullivan the US Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the "gag rule," which prevents the US Department of Health and Human Services from providing Title X funds to organizations that refer patients for abortion.
1992 In Planned Parenthood v. Casey the US Supreme Court affirms the fundamental right to abortion, but overturns the trimester framework established in Roe v. Wade and allows states to regulate abortion individually after the point of fetal viability.

Colorado's pro-choice coalition and over 800 volunteers work to protect clinics during the Pope's visit to Denver.

The US Congress passes and President Bill Clinton signs the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

The Colorado NARAL Foundation works with state representatives to pass the Bubble Bill Access Law.

The US Congress expands the Hyde Amendment to allow Medicaid funding of abortion in cases of rape or incest, in addition to physical endangerment of the woman.


The constitutionality of Colorado's Bubble Bill law is upheld in court.

Colorado is ordered to comply with federal Medicaid guidelines regarding public funding for abortion in cases of rape or incest.


The FDA approves Preven, the first dedicated emergency contraception product

In Colorado, anti-choice Governor Bill Owens is elected, signaling a renewed tide of attempted anti-choice legislation.


Colorado Governor Bill Owen's education reform bill rolls back access to comprehensive sex education in Colorado schools.

In Stenburg v. Carhart the US Supreme Court strikes down a Nebraska ban on so-called "partial-birth" abortions. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules that companies that provide prescription drugs to employees but restrict birth control from their insurance plans are in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act's Title VIII.

2001 Anti-choice Republican Governor Bill Owens cuts funding from all reproductive health clinics across Colorado.

President George W. Bush signs into law the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Act, which contains no exceptions for a woman's health.

In Colorado, a parental notification bill is passed and signed into law by Governor Bill Owens. 

NARAL drops its long-form name (originally the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, then the National Abortion Rights Action League, then the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) and become NARAL Pro-Choice America.


A pro-choice majority is elected to both houses of the Colorado legislature for the first time in decades. 


The FDA allows Plan B to be sold over-the-counter to women over age 18.

The NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado Foundation launches Prevention First Colorado to determine the barriers faced by Colorado women in preventing unintended pregnancy. 

Newly elected Governor Bill Ritter signs into law the "Responsible Sex Education" bill to strengthen comprehensive sex education requirements and policies.


The Colorado legislature passes Senate Bill 003, which removes income eligibility limits for preventative family planning services through Medicaid.

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, in coalition with Protect Families, Protect Choice, helps defeat Amendment 48, a personhood amendment.

2009 The Colorado Family Planning Initiative is established with funding from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, providing increased access to long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), such as IUDs and implants, among low-income women.

Pro-choice Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper is elected.

In a coalition partnership effort, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado helps defeat Amendment 62, another attempt to establish fetal personhood. 

In Colorado, 2 pro-choice bills concerning insurance coverage, House Bills 1021 and 1008, are passed and signed into law. 

Nebraska becomes the first state to pass an abortion ban after 20 weeks, under the guise of concern for fetal pain.

2011 The US Department of Health and Human Services announces that all private insurance plans are now required to provide contraceptive coverage without co-pay or deductible.
2012 Another attempted personhood amendment fails to make the ballot in Colorado, as it is found to be several thousand signatures below the legal requirement.
2013 NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado works with COLOR, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and other progressive groups to pass House Bill 1081 "Comprehensive Sexuality K-12 Education." Six anti-choice bills are defeated.
2014 NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado supports Vote No 67, and Colorado voters reject Amendment 67, a third attempt at establishing fetal personhood, by a 65% to 35% vote.

A fetal homicide bill based on model legislation from national anti-choice group Americans United for Life and containing personhood language similar to that rejected by Colorado voters 3 times, is defeated in the Colorado House.

The Republican-controlled Senate kills the bill authorizing the use of general funds for the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, despite the program's obvious and well-publicized successes.

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