Colorado Group Says It Has The Signatures for Late-Term Abortion Ban Ballot Initiative

A Colorado advocacy group seeking to ban abortion after 22 weeks said yesterday it has collected enough signatures for the issue to appear on the November ballot.

The ballot measure Initiative 120, which is supported by the Due Date Too Late group, seeks to ban all abortions after 22 weeks, with an exception only if the pregnant person’s life is endangered. The signatures still have to be verified by the Secretary of State before the issue is put on the ballot.

The campaign first submitted its petition in March but fell short of the necessary 124,632 valid signatures required by the state. The group had a 15-day “cure” period, beginning May 15, during which it could collect additional signatures.

Colorado is currently one of few states that do not have gestational age restrictions on abortion. The proposed law, if passed, will ban abortions after 22 weeks even if a pregnancy harms the patient’s health or is the result of rape or incest. Abortions would only be allowed if it were essential to save someone’s life.

The signature-collecting process also saw legal disputes earlier when Due Date Too Late sued the governor over new campaigning rules during the pandemic. Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order earlier this month allowing signatures to be collected via mail and email, and eased filing period restrictions because of the pandemic. Initiative 120 was the only campaign in the “cure” period and was excluded from the executive order. The lawsuit is still pending.

Supporters of the campaign had argued that banning late-term abortions was necessary because they allowed discrimination against disabled fetuses. Anti-abortion activists and politicians have falsely claimed that a quarter of late-term abortions at a Colorado clinic that provides the service were the result of a Downs Syndrome diagnosis. The clinic explains that fetal diagnosis related abortions at the clinic increased from 1992 to 2012 because of changing clinic policy and the lack of options elsewhere.

The proposed abortion ban is only using disability as a pretext, according to Robyn Powell, an attorney and researcher at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University.

“I don’t see this as a disability rights issue. This is an opportunity for anti-choice individuals to use disability as their pawn,” Powell said.

Situations surrounding late-term abortions are unique and the choice needs to be left to the patient, according to Warren Hern, founder of the Boulder Abortion Clinic, which provides late-term abortion are.

“There are outer limits to what they can do with their lives, and they need to be able to end a pregnancy, and under those circumstances they should be able to do that without any interference from others who have a political agenda,” Hern said. “These are all personal situations that can’t be generalized, and women need to be able to make their own decisions.”

Sources: The Colorado Sun 05/28/20; Colorado Times Recorder 05/21/20; The Denver Post 05/19/20.

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