Louisiana Voters Say Abortion Not a Right, As Colorado Rejects Ban on Terminations at 22 Weeks

Voters in Louisiana and Colorado took almost opposing stances on abortion rights issues on Election Day, with the southeastern state approving an amendment stating terminations are not a constitutional right, and its western counterpart rejecting a ban on abortions after 22 weeks of gestation.

Louisiana is projected to approve Amendment 1, with 62.1 percent voting for and 37.9 percent against. The amendment allows Louisiana to update its Declaration of Rights to state that it should not be interpreted to secure, protect, or fund abortion. Similar constitutional amendments have been passed in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama in recent years.

The result comes five months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have restricted access to abortions in the state.

The decision prompted a spike in people searching Google to check whether Louisiana had banned abortion. This is not the case, as 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 due to the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Although Barrett would not state in her confirmation hearing how she would rule on Roe v. Wade were it to come before the court, she is thought to have anti-abortion views, partly because she signed a 2006 newspaper ad calling for the 1973 decision to be reversed.

Elizabeth Nash, acting associate director for state policy at the Guttmacher Institute, told Newsweek the decision in Louisiana was "heartbreaking."

Nash said: "For decades, anti-abortion lawmakers in Louisiana have used every tool at their disposal to deny access to abortion, enacting 89 restrictions on abortion care since 1973—more restrictions than any other state in the country.

"Now, Amendment 1 prohibits any protection for abortion in the Louisiana constitution. If federal abortion rights are similarly dismantled from the now solidly anti-abortion Supreme Court, then it would be impossible to challenge an abortion ban in state or federal court."

Meanwhile in Colorado, voters chose to reject Proposition 115, which would have banned abortions after 22 weeks. Projections show 59.1 percent voted against, and 40.6 percent for. That means Colorado remains one of seven states that has no limit on when abortions can be performed, alongside Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont, as well as Washington D.C.

The vast majority (72 percent) of abortions in Colorado in 2019 took place at or before eight weeks gestation, three percent between 16 and 20 weeks, and 1.9 percent at 21 weeks or later.

Obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Jennifer Gunter explained on her website that very few abortions occur after 24 weeks, when they do it is due to fetal abnormalities or for maternal health.

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A stock image shows a woman holding a pregnancy test. Voters in Colorado and Louisiana voted on abortion rights on Election Day. Getty