Ballot feature: What would be changed due to Proposition 115

Natalie Weiland

Proposition 115 would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks in the state of Colorado. 

Current state laws hold no gestational time limitations or other restrictions. For minors, a two-day notice must be given to parents or guardians unless the patient wishes to obtain a judicial bypass, according to the Colorado’s Parental Notification Law. 

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Under Proposition 115, the state law would change so that abortions would no longer be permitted after 22 weeks gestational age.

According to the 2020 State Ballot Information Booklet, sent to all addresses with a registered voter, “Any person who intentionally or recklessly performs or attempts to perform an abortion after 22 weeks gestation would be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 to $5,000.”

The only exceptions allowed by the ballot measure are direct threats to the life of the pregnant person. No exceptions are permitted for cases of rape, incest, the pregnant person’s mental health or fetal abnormalities. 

“If you take away this care, it’s just another thing that they would have to deal with, and it’s not right.”-Kaylin Brooks, CSU political science major

Since 1984, Coloradans have voted on nine ballot measures relating to abortion, such as public funding for abortion services, the classification of a fetus as a person and parental notification requirements for minors seeking abortions.

Proposition 115 is the first, however, to address gestational age restrictions. 

Proposition 115 is the result of a ballot initiative, meaning signatures were collected by co-sponsors Erin Behrens and Giuliana Day and presented to the state government in order for the measure to appear on the ballot.

Argument for Proposition 115

Proponents of the bill argue that passage would “bring Colorado up to speed with the medical and legal status-quo,” as stated in an email to The Collegian by Behrens.

Behrens points to Colorado’s status as only one of seven states, and Washington, D.C., that does not outlaw abortion at any stage, along with New Hampshire, Alaska, New Mexico, Oregon, New Jersey and Vermont. 

Since legalizing abortion in 1967, Colorado has not put in place any restrictions or limitations on abortion,” Behrens explained. “We are an extreme outlier, as 43 other states limit abortion, as does most of the rest of the world. Our citizen’s initiative was created to bring our state in line with modern medical understanding of fetal development.”

Proponents see 115 as a means of recognizing “the dignity of women and the humanity of their unborn children,” as stated in the Blue Book.

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Argument against Proposition 115

Proposition 115’s opponents argue that “restricting access to abortion limits a woman’s right to bodily autonomy and interferes with the patient and doctor relationship,” according to the official opposition statement in the Blue Book. 

CSU students Taylor Ziska, Hunter Ridgeway and Kaylin Brooks, who lead the CSU Rams Vote No on 115 campaign, see it as an outright ban that ignores the complexities and unique circumstances of pregnancy. 

“An abortion ban is an abortion ban, no matter what the … ‘exceptions’ (are),” senior Ziska said, referring to the measure’s lack of exceptions for rape or incest victims and non-viable pregnancies. “There are no exceptions in this ban.”

Opponents see 115 as a harmful means of restricting health care disguised as a reasonable compromise.

“I think people … look at it and think, ‘Oh, 22 weeks, that’s enough time for somebody to make up their mind,’” Brooks said. “They’re just not taking in the realities of how everything is so complex, pregnancy is unique and it just puts on so much pressure and hardship for people if we create a ban like that.”

Further, the bill could adversely affect minority groups who already face challenges in accessing health care.

“I am non-binary, and I have a uterus, and a lot of people don’t consider me as someone who desperately needs abortion care as well, and I’m already someone impacted by disproportionate access to health care and reproductive rights,” Ridgeway explained.

Brooks explained that the people who are impacted most are those who are low-income, young, people of color, immigrants and those already “disproportionately hurt in society.”

“If you take away this care, it’s just another thing that they would have to deal with and it’s not right,” Brooks said.

Natalie Weiland can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @natgweiland