Colorado abortion ban backers optimistic, but opponents have big funding advantage 

Colorado abortion ban backers optimistic, but opponents have big funding advantage 

Participants at the 2019 March for Life in Washington, DC. Credit: Christine Rousselle/CNA
Participants at the 2019 March for Life in Washington, DC. Credit: Christine Rousselle/CNA

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Polling shows a close race for a Colorado ballot measure seeking to ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, and backers are “very optimistic” that with enough volunteers and community outreach they will succeed, even while abortion advocates have outraised pro-life campaigners by millions in the weeks leading to the election.

“The more Coloradans learn about the truth of late term abortion, the more supporters we gain for Proposition 115. That's the reason why our supporters are growing every day,” Giuliana Day, a sponsor of the proposition with the Coalition for Women and Children, told CNA Oct. 15.

Proposition 115 asks voters whether to ban abortion in the state after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where a mother’s life is threatened.

A 9 News / Colorado Politics survey of 1,021 registered likely voters found 42% of respondents said they are certain to vote yes on Prop. 115, 45% said no, while 13% are uncertain, 9 News reported.

63% of Republicans said they would vote in favor of the ban, as did 28% of Democrats and 35% of unaffiliated voters. The survey was conducted by SurveyUSA between Oct. 1 and Oct 6. It claims a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.9%.

More than 150,000 Coloradans signed a petition to put Prop. 115 on the ballot. Day characterized these signers as “a diverse group of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.”

Day told CNA that “19,000 Democrats alone signed the petition. Self-identified ‘pro-choice’ men and women voters signed the petition because they realized that late-term abortions are just too extreme.”

“Coloradans are compassionate, fair and reasonable,” Day continued. “People are very surprised to learn that late-term abortion even exists in our beautiful state.”

Opponents of the measure have a significant cash advantage in the weeks before the election.

About $276,000 in monetary and other contributions have gone to groups supporting the proposition, like the Coalition for Women and Children, according to records from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver so far has been the largest donor, giving about $50,000 to support the campaign, followed by several donors who have given $10,000 to $12,000 apiece.
 
Foes of the measure have given over $5.7 million in cash and other contributions, mainly to the group Abortion Access for All. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains has given over $1.15 million, the D.C.-based North Fund has given $1 million, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has given over $500,000. Cobalt Advocates, formerly known as NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, has given over $438,000 and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has given $400,000.

“Our campaign relies on grassroots door knocking, phone calling, and texting,” Day told CNA. “Prop. 115 supporters are actively engaged in getting the word out about Prop 115. They are also proudly displaying YES on 115 signs in their yards and gathering at intersections throughout Colorado.  It is our passion that is our secret to success.”

Colorado currently has no laws regulating late-term abortion, the state is one of just seven in the country where abortions can take place up until birth. Each year, about 200 to 300 babies are aborted after 21-weeks gestation in the state.

Asked what she would say to undecided voters, Day said abortion at 22 weeks is “especially barbaric.” The dilation and evacuation procedure used means “the systematic dismemberment of the fetus followed by crushing the head before the remaining torso is extracted.”

“This would result in unimaginable fetal pain and suffering,” she said. “Sometimes a poison is administered before the (dilation and evacuation) which causes intense nausea, retching, pain, and delirium before the fetus dies over a period of minutes to hours--sometimes as long as 24 hours.”

“Late term abortions generally take 2-4 days to complete and a delivery can be accomplished in as little as 30 minutes,” she said.

“The late term abortionist Warren Hern instructs his patients to anticipate ‘kicks’ for hours after the feticide is administered,” Day continued. “When the digoxin fails to kill the baby during the first attempt, the poisoning is repeated. This is a very traumatic experience for the woman and cruel e inhumane for the baby. We don't even treat animals this way.”

“If a preborn baby at 22-weeks can survive outside the mother’s womb, there’s no reason to kill her inside the womb,” said Day.

The Catholic bishops of Colorado asked voters to support the ban in a June 30 letter and placed the ballot measure under the patronage of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, also known as Mother Cabrini, who aided orphans and immigrants in her time in Colorado.

“Ending the legal protection for abortion is the most important political objective of Colorado Catholics because these children are deprived of their right to live. While the late-term abortion ban will not ban abortion entirely, it does protect children who are older than 22 weeks’ gestation. This is a positive change from the status quo and promotes a ‘culture of life’ that values unborn children. It is a step in the right direction.”

If the ballot measure becomes law, doctors would face a three-year license suspension for performing or attempting to perform an abortion of an unborn child beyond 22-weeks of gestation. Women would not be charged with seeking or obtaining an abortion.

In 1984 Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment banning public funding of abortions except to prevent the death of the mother. In 1998 they passed an initiative requiring parental consent and a waiting period for minors who seek abortions.

Other measures have not succeeded. The 2008 and 2010 Colorado ballots included two Personhood initiatives, which tried to define a person under state law to include every human being from the moment of fertilization or “from the beginning of biological development.” The 2008 proposal won under 27% approval from voters, while the 2010 proposal received under 30% of votes.

For Day, these efforts were part of “a complex argument that would have prohibited all abortions,” a goal which Coloradans did not approve. She characterized Prop. 115 as “a modest restriction after fetal viability when the baby can survive outside the womb if born prematurely.”

“This is when a majority of Americans agree that unrestricted abortion is too extreme,” she said.  

Another pro-life group, Colorado Right to Life, was a backer of the Personhood initiatives but rejects Prop. 115. It was a longtime state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, a national pro-life organization established with the support of the U.S. Catholic bishops in 1968. However, the Colorado affiliate broke from the national organization in 2007 over philosophical differences and the Colorado group’s criticism of a partial-birth abortion Supreme Court decision.

A spokesperson for Colorado Right to Life told CNA the group opposes “regulating the killing of the innocent” and “emphatically opposes passage of this and every abortion regulation.”

“Everyone should know that regulating which fetus can be killed and which fetus cannot be killed further erodes the public's understanding of inalienable rights,” said the group. “Abortion regulations typically say that abortion is ‘illegal except’…” which in the group’s view violates “God's enduring command, ‘Do not murder’, by re-authorizing abortion.”

Day, however, said she thinks “the vast majority of the pro-life community is behind us.”

“Colorado Right to Life has opposed all legal maneuvers that don't totally ban abortion,” she said. “Coloradans have tried this approach before and failed.”

“We are promoting a restriction on abortion that will save between 400 and 500 babies each year,” she told CNA. “We are hoping that Colorado Right to Life will lower their criticism of this important proposition.  They are welcome to join our movement at Due Date Too Late.”

In the meantime, Day urged supporters of the measure to keep promoting it.

“Supporters of Prop. 115 need to talk about this issue every chance they get: in their family, church, and community.  They need to volunteer their time and money so that the truth about Prop. 115 is heard throughout Colorado,” Day said.

“It is through these grassroots efforts that we can overcome the multimillion TV/social media propaganda campaign launched by our opponents.”

Tags: Abortion, Catholic News, Colorado, Proposition 115

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