Opinion | Susan Knopf: Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 115, the 22-week abortion ban | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Susan Knopf: Vote ‘no’ on Proposition 115, the 22-week abortion ban

Susan Knopf

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the equal rights pioneer, now opens a clear constitutional path for conservatives to establish a 6-3 majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and eliminate abortion rights as well as many other hard-won rights.

Demand every citizen legally votes. The future of our country is at stake. Will we be a democracy embracing differing opinions, or will conservatives enslave us to their religious values?

Proposition 115 is a citizen-initiated proposed statute to make abortion illegal after 22 weeks, except to save the life of the mother. The measure would impose criminal penalties on physicians who perform such abortions. Right-to-lifers admit it’s their first step to making abortion illegal in Colorado.

For the record, Colorado was one of the first states to legalize abortion in 1967, six years before the Supreme Court decision granting women the right to legal abortion.

This is another example of the political right trying to turn back time, reverse progress, take away choices from people.

In a perfect world, women know they are pregnant well before 22 weeks. It’s not a perfect world. In a perfect world, we would know if a fetus is viable before 22 weeks. This is not a perfect world.

The proponents of 115 state a fetus is viable outside the womb at 22 weeks. “Infants … are not considered to be ‘viable’ until after 24 weeks gestation,” according to the University of Utah. After 24 weeks, the survival rate can be 60% to 70%. Although a pediatrician told me the rate is 50-50 at best. The University of Utah reports, “40% of these preemies will suffer long-term health complications because they were born prematurely.”

Proponents of 115 are lying. A fetus is not generally viable at 22 weeks. This is a political ploy to strip away health care choices from families in crisis. According to the Guttmacher Institute, only about 1% of abortions occur at 21 weeks or later. Abortions have been steadily declining in the U.S.

Before New York state changed its law regarding late-term abortion, New Yorker Erika Christensen traveled to Colorado to abort a 30-week-old fetus because it was determined it would not be able to survive outside the womb. She told Time magazine that she didn’t get that information from her doctor until the 30th week.

I’m not suggesting Colorado become the mecca for tragic, rare terminations of pregnancy. I’m suggesting Colorado not make tragic personal medical decisions for people.

We passed a right-to-die law in 2016 so people can have the right to make difficult medical decisions privately. Abortion is the same difficult personal choice.

According to Time magazine, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, was threatened with excommunication for signing the pro-choice abortion bill in New York earlier this year. Cardinal Dolan called it “ghoulish.” What’s more ghoulish: Allowing people to terminate nonviable pregnancies or forcing women to carry a baby to term only to watch it waste away on life support?

Dr. Kristina Tocce, medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, told the Colorado Times Recorder that every pregnancy is unique, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all medical treatment program for every patient, saying “… this ban would … put uncompromising politics between me and my patients.” 

Sometimes a late-term abortion is necessary in the case of rape, incest, drug addiction or for a young person, who has been in denial about her condition. Whatever the reason, it’s not my business. It’s not your business. It’s not state business.

This proposed abortion ban would legislate religion. Cuomo said it best: “I don’t govern as a Catholic. I don’t legislate as a Catholic.”

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion … .” We don’t tell people how to worship. We don’t allow faith groups to impose their religious beliefs on others. We cannot in good conscience legislatively remove humane health care choices just to appease the consciences of some faith believers. 

“If the people behind Proposition 115 would care to ask people who have actually had abortions later in pregnancy what we think, we would tell them that we stand firm in our decisions,” Christensen told the Colorado Times Recorder. “The fact that these conversations happen largely without us — as if we’re theoretical monsters instead of your family, friends and neighbors — feels deeply unreasonable.”

Make the only reasonable choice. Vote “no” on Proposition 115.

Susan Knopf’s column “For the Record” publishes biweekly on Fridays in the Summit Daily News. Knopf lives in Silverthorne. She is a certified ski instructor and an award-winning journalist. Contact her at sdnknopf@gmail.com.

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