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January 23, 2024 09:51 AM UTC

Turnout Heaven: Abortion Rights Headed For Your Ballot

  • 5 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

As Colorado Newsline’s Sara Wilson reports, a coalition of reproductive rights groups kicked off their petition campaign to place an amendment on this November’s ballot to permanently guarantee abortion rights in Colorado’s state constitution, along with removing old language prohibiting public funds being used for abortion care:

Colorado already has strong abortion protections in place and is an island of protected care as surrounding states restrict access following the Dobbs v. Jackson decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2022 overturned the constitutional right to abortion.

In 2022, Democratic lawmakers passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act to protect abortion in state statute. Last year, Democrats passed another package of bills to protect doctors who perform abortions on patients who travel from states with abortion bans, clamp down on clinics that offer so-called “abortion reversal” procedures, and require large employers to offer abortion coverage in their health care plans, with an exemption for public employees.

The proposed constitutional amendment, however, would lift a ban on public funds for abortions. That would mean the approximately 1 million people who work at public institutions like hospitals, universities and the Capitol itself would be able to use their work health insurance to pay for an abortion.

Colorado voters approved the public fund ban in 1984, when Amendment 3 passed with just 50.39% of the vote.

A constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights is the strongest possible law Colorado can pass on the issue, since a flipped legislature could overturn the state’s statutory protections in the future. Not many voters in 2024 are aware that Colorado passed a Hyde Amendment-style ban on public abortion funding in the 1980s, but the existence of that ban became an unexpected problem during the failed campaign in 2016 to pass a single-payer health care measure Amendment 69.

Politically, the opportunity for Colorado voters to turn out in their overwhelming usual numbers to support abortion rights is expected to be a huge benefit to Colorado Democrats, who are well accustomed to benefiting from liberal voters who have turned out in droves to vote down anti-abortion ballot measures (and candidates) over the past two decades. This election will be the first chance for Colorado voters to weigh in on abortion rights specifically since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down Roe v. Wade, and consistent with elections across the country since then, it’s going to have a powerful effect.

And yes, Colorado Republicans have paid the price on this issue as much as Democrats have benefited. In Colorado as nationally, Republicans are “the dog that caught the car” on abortion, having achieved their long-sought goal of ending the national right to abortion but now on the wrong side of a generation of settled public opinion.

At this point there is no reason to believe that Colorado Republicans will get out of the way of this electoral steamroller, or even try. It’s a fight they say they’re proud to lose, and Democrats should take them at their word.

Comments

5 thoughts on “Turnout Heaven: Abortion Rights Headed For Your Ballot

  1. Get out and sign the petition : 

    INITIATIVE 89

    “STATE OF COLORADO
    Colorado General Assembly
    Natalie Castle, Director
    Legislative Council Staff
    Colorado Legislative Council
    200 E. Colfax Ave., Room 029
    Denver, Colorado 80203-1716
    Telephone 303-866-3521
    Facsimile 303-866-3855
    Email: lcs.ga@coleg.gov
    Edward A. DeCecco, Director
    Office of Legislative Legal Services
    Office of Legislative Legal Services
    200 E. Colfax Ave., Room 091
    Denver, Colorado 80203-1716
    Telephone 303-866-2045
    Email: olls.ga@coleg.gov
    MEMORANDUM
    TO: Dusti Gurule and Dani Newsum
    FROM: Legislative Council Staff and Office of Legislative Legal Services
    DATE: September 29, 2023
    SUBJECT: Proposed initiative measure 2023-2024 #89, concerning the right to
    abortion
    Section 1-40-105 (1), Colorado Revised Statutes, requires the directors of the Colorado
    Legislative Council and the Office of Legislative Legal Services to “review and
    comment” on initiative petitions for proposed laws and amendments to the Colorado
    constitution. We submit our comments to you regarding the appended proposed
    initiative.
    The purpose of this statutory requirement of the directors of Legislative Council and
    the Office of Legislative Legal Services is to provide comments intended to aid
    proponents in determining the language of their proposal and to avail the public of
    knowledge of the contents of the proposal. Our first objective is to be sure we
    understand your intent and your objective in proposing the amendment. We hope that
    the statements and questions contained in this memorandum will provide a basis for
    discussion and understanding of the proposal.
    Purposes
    The major purposes of the proposed amendment to the Colorado constitution appear
    to be:
    1. To ensure the right to abortion;
    2. To allow abortion to be a covered service under health insurance; and
    3. To allow public funding for abortion.
    S:\PUBLIC\Ballot\2023-2024cycle\Review and Comment Memos\2023-2024 #89.docx
    2
    Substantive Comments and Questions
    The substance of the proposed initiative raises the following comments and questions:
    1. Article V, section 1 (8) of the Colorado constitution requires that the following
    enacting clause be the style for all laws adopted by the initiative: “Be it Enacted
    by the People of the State of Colorado.” To comply with this constitutional
    requirement, this phrase should be added to the beginning of the proposed
    initiative.
    2. Article V, section 1 (5.5) of the Colorado constitution requires all proposed
    initiatives to have a single subject. What is the single subject of the proposed
    initiative?
    3. Article V, section 1 (4)(a) of the Colorado constitution states that all approved
    ballot measures shall take effect on the day of the proclamation by the
    governor. Is this the intended effective date of the initiative? If not, what is the
    intended effective date?
    4. Section 1 of the proposed initiative is a legislative declaration, but there is no
    indication whether it is intended to be part of the new section 32 to article II of
    the Colorado constitution or if it is intended to be non-statutory. If it is part of
    the new section 32, it needs be included in that section. If it is intended to be
    non-statutory, then the language is shown in regular type not small capital
    letters.
    5. What does it mean to recognize the right of abortion?
    6. What entities are covered by the term “government”? Would the proponents
    consider defining “government”?
    7. Sections 10-16-104 (26)(d)(II); 25-20.5-503 (2)(a); 25.5-3-106 (8) and (9); 25.5-4-
    412 (1); 25.5-4-415 (1), (8), and (9); and 25.5-5-103 (2) refer to section 50 of
    article V of the Colorado constitution. What will be the effect of those sections
    if the proposed initiative is adopted?
    Technical Comments
    The following comments address technical issues raised by the form of the proposed
    initiative. These comments will be read aloud at the public meeting only if the
    proponents so request. You will have the opportunity to ask questions about these
    S:\PUBLIC\Ballot\2023-2024cycle\Review and Comment Memos\2023-2024 #89.docx
    3
    comments at the review and comment meeting. Please consider revising the proposed
    initiative as suggested below.
    1. Use semicolons at the end of paragraphs in the legislative declaration, unless
    the paragraph contains more than one sentence. In paragraphs that contain
    more than one sentence, use a period at the end of each sentence.
    2. Although the text of the proposed initiative should be in small capital letters,
    use a large capital letter to indicate capitalization where appropriate. The
    following should be large-capitalized:
    a. The first letter of the first word of each sentence;
    b. The first letter of the first word of each entry of an enumeration
    paragraphed after a colon; and
    c. The first letter of proper names.
    3. The “finds and declares” clause and the “therefore, finds” clause in the
    legislative declaration should be numbered as separate subsections. For
    example:
    “Section 1. Legislative declaration. (1) WE, THE VOTERS OF THE STATE OF
    COLORADO, HEREBY FIND AND DECLARE THAT . . .
    (2) THEREFORE, THE VOTERS OF THE STATE OF COLORADO FIND THAT…”
    4. References to case names should include the full case citation. For example:
    The case reference to “Roe v. Wade” should read: “Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113
    (1973).”
    5. A proposal to amend the state constitution should specify the article and
    section to be modified or added. When amending a constitutional section, the
    “amend” or “add” instruction precedes the provision number. For example:
    “In the constitution of the state of Colorado, add section 32 to article II as
    follows:”
    6. If an entire section or other subdivision is deleted by a proposed measure, a
    “repealer clause” may be used instead of an amending clause. The repealer
    clause may simply refer to the deleted provision, or the repealed language may
    be shown in strike type. For example:
    “In the constitution of the state of Colorado, repeal section 50 of article V.”
    or
    S:\PUBLIC\Ballot\2023-2024cycle\Review and Comment Memos\2023-2024 #89.docx
    4
    “In the constitution of the state of Colorado, repeal section 50 of article V as
    follows:
    Section 50. PUBLIC FUNDING OF ABORTION FORBIDDEN. No
    public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political
    subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any
    person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion,
    PROVIDED HOWEVER, that the General Assembly, by specific bill, may
    authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary
    to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under
    circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of
    each.”

  2. "Colorado voters approved the public fund ban in 1984, when Amendment 3 passed with just 50.39% of the vote."

    That just barely passed during the tidal wave that was the Reagan landslide of 1984.

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