Denver, Colo., Jul 16, 2019 / 04:53 pm (CNA).- A pro-life group in Colorado is leading a signature drive in the hopes of asking voters in 2020 whether to ban abortion after 22 weeks.
Last month, the Coalition for Women and Children filed an initiative to end late-term abortions with the Colorado Secretary of State. The organization must now collect nearly 125,000 signatures within a six-month time limit in order to have the question appear on the ballot in November 2020.
The ballot initiative filing cites “substantial medical evidence that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by 22 weeks gestation,” noting that a child of this age will react to painful stimuli by recoiling or swimming away.
It also notes that with the help of modern science, babies born at 22 weeks gestation have been able to survive. “The state of Colorado and the people of Colorado have a compelling state interest in protecting the lives of children who feel pain and who can survive outside the womb,” it says.
Colorado currently has no laws regulating late-term abortion, either restricting the procedure or explicating protecting it. As a result, abortions can take place up until birth.
This is more extreme than the New York Reproductive Health Act that drew widespread attention earlier this year, Erin Behrens of the Coalition for Women and Children told CNA.
That law, passed in January 2019, declares abortion to be a “fundamental right,“ but only allows for the procedure after 24 weeks of pregnancy is the baby is not deemed viable or a doctor believes the mother’s life or health are at risk.
Organizers of the Colorado initiative, which they’ve dubbed “Due Date Too Late,” say they believe 22 weeks to be a reasonable limit on abortion, and that after this point, the procedure should be reserved to “to the rare case where a woman’s life is at risk.”
Keri Ebel, a member of the Coalition for Women and Children, told CNA that organizers would actually like to see abortion restricted far before 22 weeks of pregnancy.
“We feel it should be illegal from conception,” she told CNA.
But Colorado does not have a good history of passing pro-life legislation, she said, and the 22-week ban seemed like a more realistic starting point than a broader restriction.
Earlier this year, the “Colorado Protect Human Life at Conception Act” was postponed indefinitely, just a month after being introduced to the Colorado House and assigned to the Health and Insurance committee.
Personhood amendments, which would define human personhood as beginning at conception and ban all abortions, have gone before voters in the state three times, failing by significant margins each time.
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