Colorado effort to ban abortions at 22 weeks fails

The effort was the fourth anti-choice initiative in the last 12 years

By: - November 3, 2020 11:00 pm

Pro-choice activists with the National Organization For Women hold a vigil outside the U.S. Supreme Court on January 23, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The vigil was held to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Coloradans voted down a statewide ballot measure that would have banned abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases in which an abortion is “immediately required” to save the life of the mother. 

As of 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, 59.4% of counted votes were against the measure, according to the Colorado secretary of state’s office. The proposition was backed by conservative anti-abortion groups and several prominent Colorado Republicans.


“This latest victory reaffirms a long legacy of defending abortion access, marking the fourth time in 12 years Coloradans have rejected attempts to ban abortion at the ballot,” said Lucy Olena, campaign manager for the No on 115 Campaign, in a statement. “Colorado voters agreed that there is nothing reasonable about one-size-fits-all mandates that deny people access to essential medical care.”

Colorado — one of only seven states that impose no restrictions on abortions performed after a certain stage in a pregnancy — was the first state to decriminalize abortion in 1967, six years before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The failed initiative, Proposition 115, would have subjected doctors who perform abortions after 22 weeks to a criminal penalty with the potential of having their medical license suspended for at least three years. Procedures performed after 22 weeks comprise roughly 1% of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health and rights advocacy group. 

“This defeat helps preserve our ability to create the families we envision for ourselves,” said Kate Coleman-Minahan, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing. “And as a nurse, I’m grateful that Coloradans and people all over the United States are still able to obtain health care here in Colorado.”

Coleman-Minahan said that although she is relieved that the measure was defeated, she is still worried about the future of abortion rights in the U.S.

“Pregnant people still face so many barriers to obtaining abortion care,” she said. “We still have to continue to fight increase equitable access to abortion care here in Colorado and in the U.S.”

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Moe Clark
Moe Clark

Moe Clark is a freelance journalist and former Colorado Newsline reporter who covered criminal justice, housing, homelessness and other social issues.