GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Currently in Colorado, there is no time during pregnancy when an abortion would be considered illegal.
Petition signatures for a proposed initiative banning abortions past 22 weeks in Colorado are due on March 4th, 2020.
Vicki Cowart, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains said, “We see a ban introduced in the legislature virtually every session and it always goes down.”
Dr. Tom Perille, President of Democrats for Life of Colorado, aims to persuade voters in the opposite direction.
“Colorado petitions are beginning to be circulated to outlaw abortion after 22 weeks,” said Dr. Perille. “Democrats for life in Colorado are strongly in favor of that legislation because we think it’s an area where virtually all Coloradans can agree that a 22 week old fetus is a viable human being.”
Viable is a term used on both sides of the abortion debate, but it’s also a medical term.
Dr. Rebecca Cohen, a Denver area obstetrician and gynecologist, said the viability of a fetus depends on a number of factors.
“How viability is defined in obstetrics and gynecology is the ability of a fetus to survive outside of the uterus,” said Dr. Cohen. “Due to medical concerns with the fetal heart, the fetal lungs, the fetal brain, regardless of gestational age, there are some fetuses that may not ever become viable.”
However, many pro-life supporters see it differently.
“I personally think that that human being deserves recognition and it has inherited dignity and value from conception until natural death, however we live in a democracy where I need to persuade the majority of Coloradans if that’s the case,” said Dr. Perille.
Currently in the Centennial State, organizers are working to collect 124,632 signatures to add a measure to the 2020 ballot, which would ban abortions after 22 weeks gestation.
Cowart says, “This is a terrible thing to do to a patient-doctor relationship, to have a politician say, this is how you will practice your medicine, and for Planned Parenthood it’s a bridge too far, it’s unethical.”
If passed, the measure would mean the doctor could face a misdemeanor, a fine, and a three year suspension of their medical license for performing or attempting to perform an abortion after 22 weeks.
The proposed bill does make an exception for medically necessary late-term abortions to save the mother’s life, but it doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.
“They’re not intended to help women make better decisions, they’re not intended to help women’s health, they’re not intended to do anything other than restrict a woman’s ability to make her own decision about her healthcare,” said Cowart.
Dr. Cohen says late-pregnancy abortions are fairly rare and typically connected to a very serious health concern.
“In the United States, almost 90% of abortions are performed very early in pregnancy so early in the first trimester,” said Dr. Cohen. “Later abortions happen for a variety of reasons, but they are most often related to either maternal health or severe fetal anomalies that we don’t know about until later in the pregnancy.”
Still, many pro-life supporters believe even a non-viable fetus should be carried to term.
“For those that have clearly failed and when there’s no therapy for, we think that perinatal hospice is a far more loving and compassionate and life affirming approach,” said Dr. Perille.
Perinatal Hospice care is an option that supports parents in their decision to deliver a baby that might die before, or shortly after, birth.
“With perinatal hospice there’s still a lot of unknowns, there’s often a lot of expense, so while that is an option that we may present to people, it’s certainly not an easy option, not a necessarily an equal alternative and not something that is right for everyone, just as abortion is not,” said Dr. Cohen.
“This so-called choice for an abortion, when you dig deeper, its frequently coercion,” said Dr. Perille.
A sentiment that Dr. Cohen can’t agree with.
“We really do, you know, look at the health of the mother the health of the fetus and offer later abortion as a compassionate choice in many situations,” said Dr. Cohen, “It’s not something that we, as medical providers, force upon pregnant women, it’s something that is often a choice in what is a very, very difficult situation.”
For more information on Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, click here.
For more information on Democrats for Life of Colorado, click here.
For more information on the proposed abortion bill, click here.