Love and Compassion. That is what motivated the supporters of Proposition 115 to bring the late-term abortion issue to the people of Colorado. We want to protect women and save babies. The reality is that most women pursue abortion because of relationship problems and financial or career insecurity. We think there are more loving and compassionate ways Coloradans can assist these pregnant women than to provide late-term abortions. Late-term abortion ends the life of a fully formed human being while subjecting a woman to a substantial risk of injury and death.
Proposition 115 would restrict abortion after 22 weeks except to preserve the life of the mother, without imposing any penalties on women seeking abortion. It would not change existing Colorado law prior to 22 weeks – women could continue to make their own choices regarding their pregnancies including in the very difficult situations when the child is conceived in rape or incest or the baby is afflicted with a genetic abnormality or disability.
Twenty two weeks was chosen because that is the gestational age that a baby can survive if born prematurely. It is also the time that there is a scientific consensus that a baby can feel pain, probably, more intensely than an infant or child. At 22 weeks, a mother can feel her baby “kick.” The baby can react to her mother’s voice and touch. She can display a wealth of facial expressions. After 22 weeks the baby can even acquire tastes for food, preferences for music, and demonstrate nascent social behavior. We now recognize that the baby can demonstrate the uniquely human capacity to learn in utero. Any Coloradan who has ever caressed a preemie knows that just because you are small doesn’t mean that you aren’t human and deserving of the inalienable right to life and love.
At 22 weeks the abortion procedure is particularly gruesome. It involves the systematic dismemberment of the baby followed by crushing the head and extracting the torso, usually while the baby is alive. Even when the baby is poisoned with digoxin prior to the dismemberment, the poisoning causes profound nausea, retching and delirium that can last for hours. The pain, suffering and anguish experienced by the baby is simply unimaginable.
The risk to women from abortion closely corresponds to gestational age. The risk of dying increases 38% with each additional week of gestation. After 20 weeks, even Planned Parenthood admits the risk of abortion equals the risk of natural childbirth. It is 4.5 to nine times more dangerous than common out-patient surgeries performed in ambulatory surgical centers in the US and Canada. This is especially disturbing because most childbirths occur in heavily regulated hospitals. Ambulatory surgical centers are also licensed and regulated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment. However, late-term abortions are primarily performed in totally unlicensed and unregulated abortion clinics.
After fetal viability at 22 weeks, there simply is never a reason to perform an abortion for a pregnancy-related health condition. There are times that it may be necessary to urgently, or even emergently, terminate the pregnancy, but there is no advantage or rationale to killing the baby in the process. You simply deliver the baby! In fact, because a late-term abortion procedure takes two to four days to complete, and an urgent delivery can happen in 30 minutes, it would be medical malpractice to pursue a late-term abortion.
The campaign for Prop 115 is not about limiting a woman’s choice, but rather about providing an abundance of life-affirming alternatives to late-term abortion for women facing an unplanned or challenging pregnancy. That is why the website duedatetoolate.com lists over 40 organizations that are ready to assist pregnant women in need in Colorado. They provide help with everything from health care to housing, employment, day care, education, counseling, perinatal hospice and adoption. There isn’t a need that Coloradans aren’t prepared to address with love and compassion.
As the people of Colorado learn the truth about late-term abortion and Prop 115, they are lending their support, regardless of where they live in Colorado, whether they are Democrat, Republican or independents, and whether they are religious or not. Please join the movement and vote “yes” on Prop 115.
Giuliana Day is co-proponent of Proposition 115 and a member of the Coalition for Women and Children.