22-Week Abortion Ban Will Be On Colorado’s 2020 Ballot

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Pro-life advocates pray over thousands of signed petitions, just delivered to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, that will initiate a ballot measure process that could ban abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy. March 4, 2020.

The Secretary of State confirms backers of a measure to ban abortions after 22 weeks have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Organizers originally fell about 10,000 signatures short of the 124,632 needed, but a judge granted them extra time. The final collection push took place in spite of the pandemic, with volunteers collecting signatures at churches, shopping centers and other places around the state.

“We are thrilled to take this next step towards protecting lives in Colorado," said Due Date Too Late spokesperson Lauren Castillo in a press release posted to the campaign's Facebook page. "The hundreds of volunteers we have who are so passionate about ending late-term abortion are helping to make this a reality."

Colorado is one of seven states that don't put a gestational limit on when a woman can get an abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. According to CDC data, abortions after 22 weeks account for 1.3 percent of all procedures, and the procedure can be quite costly.

If passed, Initiative 120 would amend Colorado law, but not the state constitution, meaning it could be overturned by the legislature. It contains an exception for the life of the mother and allows the removal of a fetus after a miscarriage. It does not allow abortion if the doctor determines the fetus will not survive for long after birth.

"Any restriction on access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, is out of line with our shared Colorado values," the Colorado Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice Coalition said in a statement when initiative proponents turned in its signatures.

Colorado voters have rejected other attempts to restrict access to abortion in recent years, including efforts in 2008, 2010 and 2014 to define a fetus as a person in the state constitution.

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the initiative specifies an abortion after 22 weeks is only legal if the life of the mother is at risk.