An initiative to ban abortions after 22 weeks has made it onto the November ballot in Colorado after collecting 153,204 signatures, according to the Colorado Secretary of State.
The initiative, backed by the group Due Date Too Late, proposes to make it illegal to perform abortions at 22 weeks or later. This includes cases where a doctor has determined the fetus will not survive after birth. Unless considered a life-saving procedure where the pregnant person’s life is endangered, performing an abortion after 22 weeks would be classified as a misdemeanor for medical providers. Pregnant individuals would not face criminal penalties.
Gaining signatures on Initiative 120 was complicated for the group. Due Date Too Late’s initial signature submission fell short of the required number by nearly 10,000. They were granted additional time to collect signatures after legal disputes with Governor Jared Polis.
In response to the sweeping COVID-19 pandemic, the governor issued an executive order in May that allowed signatures to be collected via mail and email. Prior to this order, signatures were collected face-to-face. Initiative 120 was originally excluded from this, however a Denver District Court judge later granted the group an extension of time in which they were able to collect a sufficient number of signatures.
Colorado is currently one of few states in the country that does not limit when or why individuals can get an abortion. Because of this, it has become an important destination for those seeking reproductive healthcare. The Colorado Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Coalition has spoken out against the initiative, stating, “Any restriction on access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, is out of line with our shared Colorado values.”
In the past, Colorado voters have rejected other measures restricting abortion access. Most notably, in 2014, voters rejected the initiative to define a fetus as a person in the state constitution by a wide margin. This measure has been on the ballot three times within the recent past and has been defeated every time.
Initiative 120 seeks to amend Colorado law, but not the state constitution. Therefore, the state legislature would have the power to overturn it if passed in November.
Sources: The Colorado Sun 6/8/20; CBS Denver 6/8/20; Feminist Majority Foundation 5/29/20; Colorado Public Radio 6/8/20; Denver Post 11/4/14