Opponents of an election measure that would ban abortion in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, raised $ 8.7 million, about 14 times more than the groups pushing the initiative.
And ahead of election day, the limited survey data available suggests that Proposition 115 is too close to call.
In the past few days, proponents of Proposition 115 are focusing on unaffiliated voters who have yet to vote, while opponents have said they are fighting disinformation and what they see as voting language. confused.
The campaigns point to two polls conducted in recent weeks which have shown the race to be at a statistical standstill, and neither side is surprised by the tight margin.
While national polls for decades have found that the majority of voters support the right to abortion, that gap is narrowing when it comes to abortion later in pregnancy, with Americans being fairly evenly distributed on this question. The Coloradians have vigorously rejected three previous voting measures since 2008 that asked them to define “personality” as the “beginning of a human’s biological development” or to define fetuses as persons under the Colorado Criminal Code.
But Proposition 115 asks voters to ban abortion after 22 weeks of gestation, the point at which supporters of the measure say a fetus could survive outside the womb. Some doctors, however, say the viability is 24 weeks. The measure allows only one exception: when the mother’s life is in imminent danger.
There are no exceptions for cases where the baby will not survive due to fetal abnormalities or when the health of the mother is in danger. The measure would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions after 22 weeks.
The fact that the polls are so close “shows that the people of Colorado support a reasonable and moderate abortion policy,” said Nicole Hunt, co-founder of the Coalition to Help Moms and Save Babies. “They are not interested in Colorado as a travel destination for late abortions.”
Colorado is one of the seven states with no time limit for which a woman can have an abortion, and women travel from several states and countries to have an abortion in Colorado each year. There have been between 200 and 300 abortions in Colorado after 22 weeks of pregnancy in most of the past few years, according to statistics from the state’s health department.
Opponents of the abortion proposal said they spent the campaign fighting myths and misinformation, including allegations that women are traveling to Colorado to get “anniversary abortions” to end pregnancies just before their due date.
Proposition 115 explained: Colorado’s wide access to abortion would be curtailed under voting measure
“People don’t walk into a hospital at 38 weeks and ask for an abortion,” said Dr. Rebecca Cohen, a Denver-area doctor who provides abortion care. “It doesn’t happen. And no one is obligated to have an abortion or provide abortion care. A doctor is never obligated to do what someone asks and it is not something that ‘he would.
Instead, Cohen said, women request an abortion after 22 weeks most often because they find out during a 20-week scan that their fetus has life-threatening issues or because their own health concerns. ‘worsen as their pregnancy continues.
Women could develop preeclampsia, high blood pressure or maternal seizure disorders, or their pre-existing conditions such as heart or lung disease could worsen, she said. Late pregnancy abortions occur after deliberate discussion and counseling with doctors to explore all options, she said.
“Late” abortion is not a medical term but a political term, Cohen said. “A full term abortion for a healthy pregnancy is not the right option and is not something that gets done,” she said.
The measure, she said, would put doctors in the difficult position of deciding whether a woman needed an abortion because her life was in danger – which would be allowed – or whether her health was at risk – this that would not be allowed.
The electoral measure prohibits abortions after 22 weeks “except when the abortion is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or when her life is threatened physically, but not only by a psychological or emotional state”. This last part means that women could not request an abortion after 22 weeks because they did not feel mentally stable enough to have a baby.
Hunt, a supporter whose daughter was born at 27 weeks, said that with a fatal fetal diagnosis there are better options than abortion. Alternatives, such as prenatal palliative care programs, help women “celebrate and mourn the passing of a loved and wanted child”.
“They can bring comfort to a family during pregnancy,” said Hunt, who volunteers for a crisis pregnancy center. “There is a closure. “
The second most expensive abortion measure in Colorado
Proposition 115 is the second costliest campaign initiative on the poll this year, almost on par with a paid family leave measure. Colorado Families First has raised $ 8.9 million until Wednesday to support Proposition 118, the paid leave proposal.
Access to Abortion for All has raised $ 8.7 million in an attempt to defeat the abortion ban proposal, including many donations large and small from across the country. Meanwhile, four groups supporting the abortion ban have raised a total of $ 609,000, according to campaign finance records. They are the Coalition to Help Moms and Save Babies, the Coalition for Women and Children, Alliance for Life and National Right to Life.
“While we might not have that much money to spend, the number of hours, the number of engagements… There is a lot of momentum that is calm,” said Hunt. “It’s at the grassroots level.”
She said it looked different this time around, compared to previous abortion voting measures in Colorado. “This is not a personality bill,” Hunt said. “The promoters are afraid of losing. If they lose Colorado on this ballot measure, it is something they will find as a big setback to their program. ”
Opponents received a boost in funding after the death of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an abortion right supporter, and again this week when her replacement, Amy Coney Barrett, has been confirmed, said Stefanie Clarke, spokesperson for “Vote No on Campaign 115”.
“The amount of money underlines how important this is and the ramifications this measure, if passed, would have at the national level,” she said.
Volunteers from “Vote No of 115” worked on banks of phones and text messages every day to combat the “intentionally confusing” measure, Clarke said.
“No one is over 20 weeks away saying fancifully, ‘I just don’t want this baby,’” she said. “These are serious, distressing and complicated problems. ”
A University of Colorado at Boulder poll found only slight gender differences in the Proposition 115 polls, with males and females split roughly evenly on the measure. This is despite other races that have shown large gender gaps, including the presidential race where Colorado women were more likely to favor former Vice President Joe Biden, said Anand Sokhey, associate professor of political science. who worked on the survey.
On the proposed abortion ban, partisanship was a much more important factor than gender with a majority of Democrats polling against the ban and a majority of Republicans for, he said.