DENVER (CBS4) – As demonstrators made their points outside the Colorado State Capitol in Denver on Tuesday, abortion rights advocates and opponents were thinking about the potential of changes in laws.
“This is just not a good state to try to pass an abortion ban,” said Selina Najar, political director for abortion rights advocacy group, Cobalt. “Coloradans have voted down four abortion bans since 2008.”
Even beyond that, of nine ballot issues brought by abortion rights opponents since 1984, only two have passed. One about parental consent for minors in 1998 and another banning most public funding for abortion in 1984. None have passed since before the turn of the millennium.
But the potential of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade has people thinking about ballot initiatives.
“There may be more long term efforts to change abortion law simply because of what the Supreme Court may allow,” said University of Denver political science professor and director of the Center on American Politics, Seth Masket.
In Colorado, the recent passage of the Reproductive Health Equity Act, signed into law by Governor Polis last month assures women of choice. But it was not a constitutional amendment. If Democrats lose power in Colorado, the law could be undone.
“That’s definitely a possibility. Is that likely? I don’t think so,” said Najar.
“That is even worse than what we had before,” said Giuliana Day of the new law.
Day was the sponsor who led the charge to put Colorado’s last ballot initiative up for a vote in 2020. Proposition 115 was a ban on late term abortions. It was defeated by 18-percentage points.
She said she was, “Super excited,” about the Supreme Court’s potential change of abortion law in the country.
“This is just the beginning. The pro-life movement is gaining a lot of momentum,” she said.
She is still working to share information she believes will create change in Colorado.
“Right now what I’m doing once again, I’m going all over the state and I’m doing presentations.”
She is not pursuing a ballot initiative this year, but a Colorado Springs based effort is underway to get enough signatures for a ballot question on new restrictions on abortion.
“What is happening right now is that it takes the issue of abortion to the forefront. And that allows me to have these discussions.” Day is thinking about 2024. “I’m very patient. You’re going to see that.”
Abortion rights supporters have already shared that they hope to have a ballot question in 2024, to put abortions rights protections in the Colorado Constitution.
“In 2024 we will be enshrining protections for abortion access in the state. We will be repealing the state funding ban. The Medicaid funding ban on abortion access,” said Najar.
Outside the state, great change could come to other states.
“In other states across the nation they may move to ban abortion. We know that there will be multiple states that may do just that,” said Najar.
Colorado’s new law also prevents local governments from creating their own laws, but in other states there could be a patchwork of local laws.
“Any state that does not have statute in place, or a constitutional amendment in place that protects abortion access, runs the risk of these local level bans going into effect,” said Najar.
Actions in other states, says Masket, could show further divides in the nation.
“States are moving very far apart from each other,” he explained. “People’s choice of where they’ll live, more and more affects how they’ll live.”