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Colorado voters will decide abortion rights question after constitutional amendment qualifies for ballot

Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post on

Published in Political News

DENVER — Colorado voters in November will decide whether to make abortion a state constitutional right after the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced Friday that backers of a ballot initiative had gathered enough signatures.

Advocates for the measure turned in 159,930 valid signatures last month — more than enough to place the question on the ballot, according to the state agency.

The ballot measure, if approved by 55% of voters, would prohibit state and local governments from outlawing or impeding access to abortions. It would also require abortion to be covered under health insurance plans for state and local government employees as well as enrollees in state and local government insurance programs.

Currently, state-provided insurance such as Medicaid is not legally allowed to pay for abortions in most cases.

“Colorado voters have made it clear over and over again that they support abortion rights, and we are confident they will again in November,” said Karen Middleton, president of Cobalt, a pro-abortion access nonprofit, in a news release Friday. She also is co-chair of Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom.

State law already protects abortion rights, but placing those protections in the state constitution would make it more difficult to restrict abortion access. State lawmakers can repeal a law, but changing the state constitution requires a statewide vote.

 

People pursuing ballot initiatives that seek to change the state constitution must collect 123,238 signatures, including from at least 2% of registered voters in each of the state’s 35 state senate districts.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reversed the federal right to an abortion, prompting a wave of lawmaking across the country. Some states enacted bans and restrictions on abortions, while others have worked to further protect access.

Backers of a separate ballot measure that sought to ban abortions in Colorado failed to gather enough signatures by an April 18 deadline to be placed on the ballot.

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