Colorado is one of the only states where women can obtain later abortions.
Anti-abortion activists in Colorado appear to have obtained enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot in 2020. If the measure were to pass, later abortions would be banned in the state, one of the few to offer the procedure.
Jack Teter, the political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said the measure would "force a woman to ... leave her family and her community and her support system behind to travel to another state that doesn't criminalize access to health care." He also noted that the measure makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
Currently, Colorado imposes no limits on when an abortion can be performed. That's true of only six other states in the country. Because of that, the state has been a refuge for those who need later abortions.
During a congressional hearing last year on a so-called "born-alive" bill, Erika Christensen shared her later abortion story with the House of Representatives. Christensen learned at the 30-week mark that fetal development had stopped. Were she to carry the pregnancy to term, the baby would not have been able to breathe.
Christensen lives in New York, which at that time had a state-imposed limit, so she couldn't obtain an abortion there. At a great financial cost, she flew to Colorado to see a doctor who could perform an abortion for her.
If the ballot initiative succeeds during the 2020 election, Colorado would no longer be a location for those who need later abortions, whether they are Colorado residents or not.
The anti-abortion backers of the initiative describe it as "heed[ing] science," relying on the debunked argument that fetuses can feel pain at 22 weeks. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has noted that a large study showed a fetus is unlikely to feel pain until much later in pregnancy.
If Colorado voters back this ballot initiative, hundreds of women each year would potentially be denied the right to obtain an abortion later in pregnancy. Colorado residents would be forced to travel to another state, and residents of other states would have one less option for a later abortion.
The denial of abortion access leads to a higher rate of maternal and infant mortality. The real science behind abortion shows it is one of the safest medical procedures available, and that includes later abortion.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.