Jimmy’s Colorado Politics Column | Time limit on abortion is overdue

Written by on September 28, 2020

As a socially moderate voter driven more by economic issues, something typical of my millennial generation, I generally don’t talk about “social issues” much.  But Proposition 115, the late-term abortion ban, justifies a column in full support.  That’s because it is the single best thing Colorado’s pro-life movement has ever done to legally limit abortion. 

This year, the pro-life movement isn’t running a politically untenable personhood amendment that, however well-intentioned, would both fail and do more political harm than good.  Instead, the movement has taken a much more realistic approach with Prop 115. Not only does this initiative do what Coloradans should have done years ago — finally put a time limit on most abortions — but it does so in an eminently reasonable fashion that falls under Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood.  You cannot legitimately call this “extreme” with a straight face.

About a decade ago, I was shocked to learn that Colorado literally has no substantive limits on taking the life of an unborn child.  We are one among only seven states permitting abortion up until birth, enabling partial-birth abortion regardless of the circumstances. 

The science is clear that an unborn baby is fully formed and viable — that is, capable of living outside of the womb — by 22 weeks.  The fetus can also feel pain while undergoing an abortion procedure.  While people can certainly argue in a public policy context that life does not begin at conception, they can’t argue that, say, a fetus at 26 weeks is not a human being. 

With this in mind, Prop 115 prohibits abortion after 22 weeks gestational age of the fetus, or 22 weeks “from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period.”  Opponents have been both misleading and outright lying in advertisements against Prop 115.  They claim that there are no exceptions, especially for “the health of the woman,” which is patently false.  There are health exceptions: If a physician determines that an abortion is “immediately required to save the life of a pregnant woman,” or her life is “threatened by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury,” an abortion is allowed. 

There are no legal penalties whatsoever for a woman who undergoes a late-term abortion.  There will be no jailtime for getting an abortion after 22 weeks of a pregnancy.  No doctor will face jailtime, either.  Instead, a physician who conducts an abortion violation of Prop 115 would be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, but the provider will only face a fine and a suspension of their medical license for “at least three years.”  These are mild penalties for destroying a viable human being.

In addition to the false claim that “the life of the woman” is not an exception, opponents complain that Prop 115 does not feature exceptions for rape or incest.  In this assertion, they are accurate: There is no such exception.  Yet while most Americans tend to favor exceptions like this in general, it is important to keep in mind that 22 weeks into a pregnancy means over five months have passed.  That ought to be more than enough time for a woman to decide if she wants to take the life of a fetus because she is the victim of a rape or incest.  Abortion advocates effectively want to add superfluous words. 

Even more, Prop 115 is expressly constitutional.  Under Supreme Court precedent, women are permitted to abort a fetus pre-viability without undue burdens from the government.  The Personhood Amendment previously advanced by pro-lifers would have violated this while Prop 115 does not.

That’s because the court does allow the state to restrict abortion post-viability, so long as there are exceptions for the woman’s health.  Prop 115 protects the life of a viable fetus while protecting the life of the mother, meeting this requirement.

Prop 115 is anything but extreme.  It is an attempt at a reasonable compromise with reasonable abortion proponents and aligns with the three-quarters of Americans who agree that a law restricting abortion after a baby can both feel pain and live outside of the womb is reasonable.  It features no penalties for a woman, mandates zero jailtime for the abortion provider, and allows the necessary exceptions for the life of the mother.

Reasonable, moral and politically pragmatic, Proposition 115 can and should pass muster with the voters of Colorado.

Click here to read Jimmy’s September 28 column at Colorado Politics, a sister publication of The Washington Examiner.

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