As Coloradans vote this fall, they’re deciding on more than just the president and other elected officials — they’re also being asked to vote on a ballot measure, Proposition 115, which seeks to ban abortion in the state after 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Colorado is one of seven states without a gestational limit on abortion, with or without exceptions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
If Prop 115 is approved and enacted, a person who performs an abortion after that point is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and subject to a fine ($500 to $5,000), according to the measure’s language. A licensed practitioner would lose their license for at least three years. The patient would not be charged with a crime.
The ballot measure includes only one exception: if “an abortion is immediately required to save the life of a pregnant woman,” including physical disorders, illnesses and injuries. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Proponents of the proposal say it is to prevent the abortions of potentially viable fetuses. Opponents say it puts pregnant people’s lives and wellness at risk, while there are also concerns about the disproportionate impact a ban could have on already marginalized communities.
Singular exception frightens some doctors
Dr. Rebecca Cohen, an OB-GYN in the Denver area, pointed to the language in the ballot measure requiring a pregnant person’s life be at “immediate” risk.
“As a practicing physician, it’s unethical for me to allow a medical situation to progress to the point that someone’s life is immediately in danger,” she told ABC News.
Dr. James Monaco, a Colorado cardiologist who has cared for patients in high-risk pregnancies due to cardiac issues, wrote in an opinion piece for The Colorado Sun that if passed, the proposition “will result in unnecessary maternal deaths.”
He expanded in a piece for the Colorado Times Recorder that if a pregnant person with severe heart disease has a 50% chance of death, doctors would have to question, “Is a 50% chance of death ‘immediate?'”
The exception also does not mention the health of the fetus. That means if a pregnant person gets a diagnosis that the fetus will likely either be stillborn or only live a few hours or days, that person then potentially has to carry the fetus to term and go through labor — which includes an emotional and financial toll on top of the physical risks of labor and pregnancy.
The Coalition for Women and Children, also known as the DueDateTooLate campaign, which supports the proposition, says that in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities, pregnant people would turn to “perinatal hospice.”
“Perinatal hospice involves a multidisciplinary team” to “accompany the family through the pregnancy and