50 Years Ago, Colorado Passed Nation’s First State Law Liberalizing Abortion

Listen Now
Photo: Dick Lamm | Colo Abortion Law - AP
Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm inside his home in Denver, April 24, 2017. Before he was governor, Lamm served as a Democrat in the state legislature, where he sponsored a bill that significantly loosened restrictions on legal abortions. The bill was signed April 25, 1967 by Republican Gov. John Love.

It was 1967 when former Democratic Gov. Dick Lamm, then a state lawmaker, proposed the nation's first law significantly loosening restrictions on abortions.

The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, came six years before Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

The state law allowed abortions in cases where a woman's physical or mental health were in jeopardy, or in cases of rape or incest up until 16 weeks of a pregnancy. Under the law, a three-doctor panel at the hospital had to sign off on the procedure.

This week, the group American Right to Life, based in Wheat Ridge, sent state legislators a letter denouncing the 1967 law, saying it led to the deaths of thousands of lives.

Lamm spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel about the passage of the law and how the debate over abortion today compares to 1967.