Oct 30, 2020 | NEWS | By Psalm Delaney | Illustration by Bibi Powers

Proposition 115 has sparked statewide advocacy with support and opposition from awareness groups nationally and locally, including on college campuses. The 2020 Colorado ballot will feature 11 measures, including Proposition 115. Colorado is one of seven states in which abortions can be performed at any time during pregnancy. Coloradans have voted on eight abortion-related measures between 1984 and 2014. However, this year’s proposition is the first measure based on fetal gestational age.

The proposition document states that “this initiative would prohibit an abortion after 22 weeks gestational age of the fetus.” The proposition offers an exception for cases where “an abortion is immediately required to save the life of a pregnant woman, rather than expedited delivery of the living fetus, and if the pregnant woman’s life is threatened by a physical disorder, physical illness, physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, but not including psychological or emotional conditions.”

Under this initiative, late-term abortion will be punishable by a monetary fine of $500 to $5,000 and a three-year medical license suspension by the Colorado Medical Board. Doctors will not face jail time. Women who receive an abortion under the measure will not face punishment.

Opponents of the proposition, such as Colorado’s No on 115 campaign, argue that it “is a one-size-fits-all mandate that ignores the uniqueness of each pregnancy and allows politics to dictate personal health decisions that should be left to patients and their doctors.”

To raise awareness against Proposition 115, Pardes Lyons-Warren ’22 launched her campaign Students Vote No On 115, which is supported by the Equality Votes Initiative under the Feminist Majority Foundation. Her initiative strives to mobilize Colorado College students to vote against the proposition and protect pregnancy privacy and autonomy. The initiative encourages students to vote, and more specifically to vote against this proposition.

In an interview, Lyons-Warren explained, “By voting against [Proposition 115], [people] are acknowledging that pregnancies are unique, have nuance, and can’t be so strictly legislated.” She expressed that, “abortion is not an easy decision to make and … pregnant people deserve the autonomy and privacy to make that decision.”

 “Colorado has been a haven for people who need [abortions] because other states have put restrictions in place,” she continued. “If [Proposition 115 passes], the average distance a Coloradan would have to travel to get an abortion would [increase] from 15 miles to 445 miles.”

Dr. Warren Hern, who is the founder of Boulder Abortion Clinic and developer of several late-term abortion techniques, believes that government interference disrupts doctor-patient relationships. He states that “there are many conditions that require termination of the pregnancy for the woman to survive and those are medical decisions that have to be made in the doctor’s office, in the operating room with the woman’s participation and consent. And I think any interference with that is not justified and not acceptable.”

In contrast, proponents of Proposition 115, such as Due Date Too Late, claim that “the measure will protect a viable human being,” because “at 22 weeks gestation a baby can survive outside the mother’s womb when they are born prematurely.”

Dr. Tom Perelli, president of Democrats for Life of Colorado, believes that statements claiming that Proposition 115 will lead to higher pregnancy mortality rates are “propaganda — not science or medicine.”

“After fetal viability, if a health concern comes up … you deliver the baby,” he said. “There is not any rationale or reason to actually kill the baby… it’s actually less efficient than a delivery and puts the woman at greater risk.”

Giuliana Day, from the Coalition for Women and Children and co-sponsor of Due Date Too Late, urges Coloradans to vote in support of the proposition to protect the overall health of women, unborn children, and society as a whole. “This is a very critical issue that cuts across political parties, cuts across religion, positions –– it doesn’t matter,” she said. “This is about science. This is about humanity.”

As CC students continue to submit their mail-in ballots or prepare to vote next Tuesday, Lyons-Warren urges students, “[regardless of how] you are voting, PLEASE VOTE! CC has resources to have your ballot dropped off for you and you can register in person on the day you vote, so [there are] no excuses. Check with your friends, have they voted?”

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