Colorado News Connection

October 3, 2017Available files: mp3 wav jpg

Late-Term Abortion Ban Would Trump Coloradans' Access

Eric Galatas

DENVER - The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill today that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. If the proposal becomes law, providers also could face fines and up to five years in prison.

Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, notes that Colorado voters have made it clear they do not want to see access to abortion limited and have voted against similar restrictions three times.

"Voters overwhelmingly, and in a bipartisan manner, say 'no' and have rejected any measure to restrict access," she says. "We've had these conversations, we've had these elections and we actually know where we stand. And we want to make sure that our elected officials carry that message to Washington."

Middleton says the measure would supersede laws on the books in Colorado guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion services. Proponents of the bill say it will protect women and claim fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks.

In a statement, Aurora-based obstetrician Dr. Rebecca Cohen argues that scientists have shown that fetal nerve pathways have not developed enough to conduct a pain signal by 20 weeks.

Middleton notes the decision to terminate a pregnancy after 20 weeks is frequently made only after learning that the fetus will not survive to birth. She says forcing a woman to carry a terminally ill pregnancy to term is misguided and puts women's physical and mental health at risk.

"I'm not sure why anyone thinks it's appropriate to put themselves between a woman and her doctor in this situation," she queries. "And to say that you're making it better for women by making it harder for women is just a non-starter."

A similar measure cleared the House in 2015 but did not clear the Senate. If the new proposal wins a majority in the GOP-controlled House, the bill would need 60 votes in the Senate. President Trump has said he would sign the bill into law if it makes it to his desk.