Voters in Louisiana and Colorado took almost opposing positions on abortion law issues on election day, with the Southeastern state passing an amendment stating that abortion is not a constitutional right, and its Western counterpart rejecting a ban on abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Louisiana is expected to pass Amendment 1 with 62.1 percent yes and 37.9 percent no votes. The amendment allows Louisiana to update its Declaration of Rights to state that it should not be interpreted as securing, protecting or funding abortion. Similar constitutional amendments have been passed in recent years in West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama.
The result comes five months after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a law in Louisiana that would have restricted access to abortion in the state.
The decision sparked a wave of people searching Google to see if Louisiana had banned abortion. This is not the case because the right to abortion is enshrined in Roe v. Wade.
However, the vote comes at a time when Roe v. Wade is in the spotlight at the Supreme Court due to the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Although Barrett would not indicate in her confirmation hearing how she would rule on Roe v. Wade if she went to trial, she is believed to have an anti-abortion bias, in part because she signed a newspaper ad in 2006 calling for the 1973 decision to be overturned.
Elizabeth Nash, Deputy Assistant Director of Public Policy at the Guttmacher Institute, told Washington Newsday that the decision in Louisiana was “heartbreaking.
Nash said: “For decades, Louisiana’s anti-abortion legislators have used every means at their disposal to deny access to abortion, and since 1973 have imposed 89 restrictions on abortion care – more restrictions than in any other state in the country.
“Now Amendment 1 prohibits any protection for abortion in the Louisiana Constitution. If federal abortion rights were similarly removed from the now-solid anti-abortion Supreme Court, it would be impossible to challenge an abortion ban in a state or federal court”.
Meanwhile, voters in Colorado voted to reject Proposition 115, which would have banned abortion after 22 weeks. Projections show that 59.1 percent voted against and 40.6 percent voted for. This means that Colorado remains one of seven states, along with Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont and Washington D.C., where there is no restriction on when abortions can be performed.
The vast majority (72 percent) of abortions in Colorado in 2019 took place at or before the eighth week of pregnancy, three percent between 16 and 20 weeks and 1.9 percent after 21 weeks or later.
Obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Jennifer Gunter explained on her website that very few abortions occur at 24 weeks if they are due to fetal abnormalities or maternal health.