Anti-abortion rally attendees at the Capitol

Attendees at the Celebrate Life rally gather at the state Capitol on Jan. 11, 2020, to protest abortion and advocate for Initiative 120.

The secretary of state's office announced late Friday that Initiative #120, which seeks to ban late-term abortions, fell about 10,000 valid signatures short of its goal.

But it's not over yet. Under state law, proponents now have time to gather more signatures, and the Secretary of State's office doesn't check to see if the same people sign the second round.

The measure seeks to ban abortions performed after the “gestational age” of the fetus reaches 22 weeks. There is an exception if the life of the mother is in danger.

Proponents, known as "Due Date Too Late," turned in 137,624 signatures on March 4. On average, those collecting signatures for ballot measures try to turn in at least 30% to 50% more signatures, to ensure they meet the requirement of 124,632 valid signatures. 

The Secretary of State's election division determined the verification level at 97.51%, which falls between 90% to 110% of the total number of valid signatures required. That triggered a line-by-line verification of all signatures. 

After that verification, the elections division stated the ballot measure had 114,647 valid signatures, just under 10,000 short.

Proponents obtained a court order to delay the start of the time period for collecting those additional signatures, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They can begin that task on April 12 and have until 3 p.m. on April 27 to gather those signatures.

However, if Gov. Jared Polis extends the stay at home order past April 11, the court order allows the proponents to postpone gathering signatures until the stay is lifted, according to attorney Suzanne Staiert, who is representing Due Date Too Late.

"Due Date Too Late" has said their volunteers are ready to gather those signatures. Spokeswoman Lauren Castillo said last month that there was "an incredible amount of momentum" in the last week and a half before the petitions were due, with more than 43,000 signatures collected in the last six days. She said that if the signatures are deemed insufficient, the volunteer circulators in every county can be mobilized during the cure period.

Colorado was the first state in the nation to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest and for the health of the mother, back in 1967.

Initiative 120 is the seventh time in the past 14 years that anti-abortion advocates have tried to persuade Colorado voters to change state law on abortion.

In 2006, Initiative 80, which was also backed by the Catholic Church, got petitions approved but never turned in signatures. Two years later, the first of three ballot measures on personhood, which generally declared life began at the point of conception, was on the Colorado ballot. The 2008 measure failed on a 73.2% to 26.8% vote. In 2010, Amendment 62 lost 70.53% to 29.47%.

In 2012, another personhood initiative, number 46, turned in signatures but not enough and was declared insufficient.

In 2014, voters rejected the most recent personhood initiative, Amendment 67, on a vote of 64.87% to 35.13%.

The issues committee Coalition for Women and Children is the major funder for the measure, with donations of $10,000 from Donald Hood of Worldviews, Calling and Culture, a Christian education non-profit backed by LifeBridge Christian Center of Longmont and LifeChoice Pregnancy Center; and $5,000 from Jeff Coors of the conservative Coors family.

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