State’s voters have previously rejected personhood efforts

People hold up signs in favor of legal abortion during a protest against abortion bans, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, outside the Supreme Court in Washington. A coalition of dozens of groups held a National Day of Action to Stop the Bans, with other events planned throughout the week.

A ban on most abortions at 22 weeks or later in pregnancy was defeated Tuesday night as voters rejected the fourth attempt since 2008 to more stringently regulate abortions in Colorado.

About 1.6 million voters, or 59.2%, rejected Proposition 115 with 83% of the vote counted, while 1.1 million, or 40.8%, supported it.

Proponents, who said they had strong grassroots support, were vastly outspent by opponents. Proponents spent $505,488, compared to opponents’ nearly $9 million, according to the Colorado News Collaborative’s FollowtheMoneyCO project.

The ballot measure would have subjected doctors even attempting to perform a later-term abortion to misdemeanor charges and at least a three-year suspension of their license. The only exception would have been for an abortion that is immediately required to save the woman’s life.

“This measure bears no relation to previous attempts to pass personhood amendments in Colorado, which would have banned all abortions,” said Giuliana Day with Due Date Too Late, an organization that campaigned for the initiative.

Day said opponents used scare tactics to sway voters even though the proposal was a reasonable restriction and amounted to a human rights issue.

However, those campaigning against Proposition 115 said it would have undermined women’s rights to reproductive health.

“For the fourth time in 12 years, Coloradans have rejected attempts to ban abortion at the ballot, trusting patients and families to make the personal medical decisions that are right for them, without interference from politicians,” Lucy Olena, campaign manager for the No on 115 campaign, said in a statement.

Colorado was the first state in the country to decriminalize abortion, passing a law in 1967 to allow the procedure in cases of rape, incest, if the woman’s health was threatened or if the unborn child might have birth defects.

The vote on abortion restrictions came as the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court has raised the stakes for the fate of Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion. Barrett has been involved in organizations opposed to abortion.

Abortions later in pregnancy make up only about 1.3% of abortions overall, said Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt, a Colorado organization that advocates for access to abortion and reproductive rights. She said the abortions are performed when a woman’s health is endangered or when something is wrong with the unborn child.

“The proposition is designed to sound reasonable, but it is not,” Middleton said. “What you’re doing is inserting an arbitrary line and essentially putting politics into the doctor’s office and into a family’s decision.”