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Proposed ban on late-term abortions in Colorado gets hearing

Posted at 11:32 AM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 21:11:58-04

DENVER -- An initiative that would ask Colorado voters whether they want to ban late-term abortions is one step closer to heading to the 2020 ballot.

On Wednesday, representatives from the Secretary of State's Office, the state Attorney General's Office and the Legislature's legal office reviewed, amended and ultimately approved the title language of Initiative 108.

The proposal would ban abortions starting at 22 weeks, except when a woman's health is endangered.

“This is not a heartbeat bill, this is not a bill about a total ban on abortion. This is all about 22 weeks where we have seen babies born at 22 weeks,” said attorney Suzanne Staiert, who is representing the groups proposing the initiative.

If it makes it onto the 2020 ballot, the initiative would be a statutory change. It would need 50% of the vote plus one to pass. Women would not be punished for seeking abortions after 22 weeks; however, doctors would.

“Our initiative, of course, is really only prohibiting it for the doctor or the person who performs the abortion. It is not in any way making it illegal for the woman who (sic) the abortion is performed,” Staiert said.

Under the proposal, doctors who perform abortions after 22 weeks would face class 3 felony charges and would have their medical license suspended for at least one year.

Currently, there is one clinic in Boulder that performs these sorts of late-term abortions. It is one of only a handful of these types of clinics across the country.

“This is not a theoretical argument for us, this is a very home-based argument and we are very concerned about that particular clinic,” Staiert said.

After Wednesday’s ballot language hearing, there is a seven day period for opponents to file a protest to the title before it can move forward. If Initiative 108 is allowed to proceed, its creators would need to collect at least 124,632 valid signatures from registered voters to get a spot on the ballot.

“We believe this model is appropriate for Colorado,” she said. “We believe the voters of Colorado will support us.”

Colorado is one of seven states that doesn't have any time limits on when women can get an abortion.

“This is a really important question for voters to decide,” Staiert said.