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Colorado Ballot Initiative 120: Late-Term Abortion Ban
Kristin Vail | 14 May 2020
The future of Initiative 120, the proposed initiative to prohibit abortion after 22-weeks gestation in Colorado, still remains uncertain. Last fall, the Coalition for Women and Children began the Due Date Too Late campaign by collecting thousands of signatures of registered Colorado voters to get Initiative 120 onto the November 2020 ballot. To most pro-life advocates, a 22-week abortion ban might not seem to be a drastic and controversial law, but it is in Colorado. It is important to note that this law includes no criminal penalties for women who seek to have an abortion. Currently, in Colorado, there are no restrictions on when or why an abortion can be performed, and many of our leaders and lawmakers would like to keep it that way.(1)
In January of this year, State Representative Dave Williams introduced the 22-week abortion ban to the Colorado House of Representatives as House Bill 1098. This bill was then sent to the House Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs.(2) A committee hearing was held on February 11th, which included hours of people testifying both for and against the bill. Opponents of the bill included families that chose abortion after receiving devastating fetal diagnoses. President of Democrats for Life of Colorado, Dr. Tom Perille, talks about these situations in his recounting of the hearing:
“Families with fatal fetal anomalies were being used in the hearing to justify all late abortion. Representatives from Cobalt (formerly NARAL Colorado) and Planned Parenthood tried to claim all late abortions were performed for medical diagnoses. However, when asked whether they would support the bill if exceptions for fetal anomaly were included, they all indicated they would not. Even the women who had fetuses with fatal fetal anomalies and indicated late abortion was necessary for their families, refused to concede that a bill with exceptions for fetal anomalies would be acceptable.”(3)
Abortionist Warren Hern, in Boulder, Colorado, is upfront on his website about performing abortions after 28-weeks gestation.(4) Calls to his office and interviews with a former employee indicate he will also perform third-trimester abortions for reasons other than fetal anomalies.(5) And because so few doctors are willing to perform abortions in the third trimester, women come from all over, including Canada, to obtain late-term abortions in Boulder.
Supporters of the bill also gave compelling testimonies during the hearing. On top of classic pro-life apologetics, supporters of the bill included information about perinatal hospice, a life-affirming alternative to abortion in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities. Another alternative to late-term abortion in Colorado is the Colorado Fetal Care Center in Denver; a hospital that delivers high quality, cutting-edge care to babies in-utero and their mothers. Unfortunately, as predicted, the committee killed the bill, leaving the
November ballot as the only route for getting the abortion ban passed this year.
To get Initiative 120 on the November 2020 ballot in Colorado and allow voters to decide on this abortion ban, at least 124,632 voter signatures must be collected. On March 4th, 2020, over 135,000 signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State's office in Denver by the tireless sponsors of this initiative, Giuliana Day and Erin Behrens. A blessing came in the final week before this deadline from the Liturgical calendar in the form of Ash Wednesday. Volunteers were coordinated to collect signatures after as many Ash Wednesday masses as possible, and it worked. In the six days before the deadline, over 43,000 signatures were gathered.(6) This Initiative has received bipartisan support, including from Democrats for Life of Colorado, whose leadership has been involved throughout the process. The Due Date Too Late team took a sample of 40,000 of the verified signatures, and of these 12.5% were Democrat; 26.3% unaffiliated, and 61.2% Republican.(7)
After a spot check of the signatures, the validity rate was high enough to trigger a hand count of every signature by the Secretary of State’s office. However, the news came at the beginning of April that after the hand count, the number of valid signatures came up short. Because this was in the middle of the statewide emergency stay-at-home order due to COVID-19, a stay was granted for the 15-day period allowed for collecting the remaining signatures.(8)
With the spread of the virus slowing and businesses around Colorado opening up again, the final 15 days of gathering signatures are upon us. We will begin on May 15th. Both volunteer and paid circulators will be working hard to collect the remaining 10,000 signatures needed to get this late-term abortion ban on the ballot.
Read full text of the initiative at https://duedatetoolate.com/initiative
Social Media Coordinator - Democrats for Life of Colorado
Sidewalk Advocacy Coordinator - Denver Pro-life Future