(CNN/CBS4) – Voters in Colorado and one other state are weighing in on abortion restrictions this November, considering whether to approve a set of ballot issues as a national fight intensifies over the future of abortion law in the U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump sparred on the topic in September, with the former vice president arguing that Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, was “on the ballot” in 2020. But as Republicans look to deepen the conservative tilt of the high court with the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Coloradans are considering a question on the future of abortion access in the Centennial state.
Proposition 115 would ban abortion beginning at 22 weeks of pregnancy. The measure includes exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman but not for instances of rape or incest. Doctors who continue to perform abortions at 22 weeks could face a fine up to $5,000.
‘Labyrinth of restrictions’
Colorado is one of seven states that does not bar some abortions past a specific point in pregnancy, according to data from the abortion-rights research group the Guttmacher Institute. Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s office shows that women from over 30 states have traveled to Colorado to access abortions.
Those out-of-state abortion-seekers show “that care needs to be shored up in other states so that it’s more accessible, but also that Colorado is important in the landscape of abortion access nationally,” Elizabeth Nash, the interim associate director of state issues at Guttmacher, told CNN.
Colorado: Supporters and opponents mobilize
For co-sponsor Giuliana Day, the 22-week abortion ban on the Colorado ballot represents a year and a half of community activism since she first learned the state didn’t have a time limit on abortion.
“It’s been an incredible mobilization of people that are on fire about Proposition 115,” Day said, referencing “an army of volunteers.” “And I’ve been getting together in the communities and delivering flyers and information, because the main thing is to inform people.”
The ballot measure comes on the heels of a slew of other states’ bills last year that tried to limit abortion to various time frames. Day said the Colorado measure has “no relationship” to other states’ full abortion bans or bills pertaining to fetal personhood.
Day called Colorado’s lack restrictions on abortions past a specific point in pregnancy “one of the darkest secrets in the state,” and said that to her and fellow supporters, Proposition 115 is “the human rights issue of our lifetime.”
The campaign has gained support from anti-abortion Democratic groups and over 160 health care workers, Day said, adding that she’s optimistic it will pass.
But opponents of the measure see the ban as a potential threat to abortion seekers’ health — and abortion access in states nationwide.
Karen Middleton, executive director of reproductive rights group Cobalt, said her organization and several others formed a coalition in the spring to fight the proposed restrictions. They’ve used TV, digital media, emails, texts, phone calls and direct mail.
“If we’re able to talk to voters and really get a message, our message, in front of them about how harmful this could be, we believe it will move in our favor. We believe we will be able to defeat this, but it is very close to call,” she said.
Several high-profile Democratic Colorado politicians have opposed the measure, including Gov. Jared Polis, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Senate candidate and former Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Middleton criticized the ballot measure’s lack of exceptions for rape and incest and said that regarding the exception in instances of life or death, “if you’re making a life or death decision, the life of the mother is already at extreme risk.”
Colorado, she said, could be a test case for anti-abortion ballot initiatives in other states.
“If they think they can be successful, they will then run it in lots of other states,” Middleton said of abortion opponents. “So we really see from a national perspective, access to care is critical.”
In Louisiana, voters will decide whether to amend the state’s constitution to add language that expressly states the document offers no protections for a right to abortion or the funding of abortion. Should Roe be overturned, Louisiana’s Proposed Amendment No. 1 would prevent the state courts from declaring abortion restrictions unconstitutional at the state level.
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