Abortion on the ballot in Colorado and Louisiana
In the first presidential debateFormer Vice President Joe Biden told voters that was “on the ballot” for that election – a claim disputed by President Trump, despite his campaigning on an anti-abortion platform. But in two states, abortion is on the ballot in a literal way: voting measures.
Voters in Colorado and Louisiana to decidethis promise to shape the future of abortion access in their respective states, both short and long term. These efforts represent what many experts say is the future of abortion rights in America: a state-to-state battle over procedure as the fate of Roe v. Wade becomes less certain under a The landmark 1973 decision required all states to legalize abortion at least during the first few months of pregnancy, but if the court decides to overturn the decision – which from the next term of office, states would be free to ban the procedure entirely.
“States are trying to position themselves for whatever comes after Roe,” said Mary Ziegler, professor at Florida State University College of Law and author of “Avortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present”. “Everyone knows Roe is not long for this world.”
In Colorado, voters on Tuesday will consider Proposition 115, a voting measure that would ban abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy. The proposal offers only one exception: if an abortion is “immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman when her life is physically threatened”, according to the text of the proposal. The ban does not provide exceptions for victims of rape or incest, or in situations of severe fetal abnormalities, conditions that are usually not detectable until later in pregnancy.
Currently, Colorado is one of seven states with no gestational limit on abortion, allowing access to the procedure later in pregnancy under the very limited circumstances in which it is authorized by the federal government. Interruptions after about 24 weeks of pregnancy are usually only legally permitted in cases of severe fetal abnormalities, such as when the fetus is no longer viable or to save the life of the patient.
The vast majority of terminations occur early in pregnancy, and only 1.3% of abortions occurred at or after 21 weeks gestation in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Colorado has become a safe haven for patients seeking surgery later in pregnancy because of its laws; if the ballot measurement is successful, the implications extend far beyond state borders. Last year, 11% of abortions performed in Colorado were in patients from 30 different states, according to the state Department of Health. Only six other states and Washington, DC, have such broad abortion laws: Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont.
This is a group that Erin Behrens, the godmother of the measure, hopes his state will leave. In an interview with Denver radio station KHOW, the millennial anti-abortion rights activist called Colorado “America’s late abortion capital.”
“Over the past couple of years, this has been of great concern to me – I’m learning about Colorado laws – and the lack of them – regarding abortion,” Behrens said. “And so I worked to raise awareness that Colorado is one of the worst states in the country – it’s one of the worst places in the world – for late abortion.”
A recent poll shows voters narrowly disapprove of the ban. And opponents of Proposition 115 have vastly overestimated its supporters, according to data compiled by Ballotpedia. Supporters of Colorado’s proposed 22-week abortion ban raised just over $ 500,000 while opponents raised nearly $ 7 million.
In Louisiana, voters will consider a more hypothetical voting measure: an amendment to the state constitution opposing abortion. If passed, the measure, Louisiana Amendment 1, “No Abortion Rights in Constitutional Amendment,” would add a line to the state’s Bill of Rights: “To protect the human life, nothing in this constitution should be interpreted as guaranteeing or protecting a right to abortion or requiring funding for abortion. “
Given that the state has passed nearly 100 anti-abortion restrictions since Roe v. Wade, including a law that would automatically ban abortion if Roe is canceled, experts believe the measure is more political than practical. .
“No one realistically expects anyone in the Louisiana Supreme Court to find an abortion right in the state constitution,” Ziegler said. “But it’s a way for Republicans to signal their thoughts and get voters excited.”
Louisiana’s measure – referred to by its supporters as the “Love Life” amendment – is one in anticipation of a post-Roe world. If approved, the amendment will not change the way abortion patients access abortion in the state at this time, but rather create a barrier for abortion rights groups in case Roe would be overturned and that the states themselves would decide to legalize the procedure.
In 2018, voting measures in Alabama and West Virginia established similar constitutional amendments against abortion, joining Tennessee, where voters approved one in 2014. In 10 states, including California, Massachusetts and New York voters went the other way, approving measures that establish an abortion right, regardless of Roe.
“By passing the Love Life Amendment, we will ensure that no judge can ever recognize a right to abortion,” Louisiana state lawmaker Katrina Jackson said in a statement. publicity support measurement. Jackson, who sponsored the amendment, was also the author of the earlier this year.
“We will ensure that unborn babies throughout this state are protected the day Roe v. Wade is canceled,” Jackson said.