In 1980 Americans United for Life successfully defended the Hyde Amendment – which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion with federal funds – before the US Supreme Court in the seminal Harris v. McRae case. Since then, the abortion industry has been inching ever closer to their ultimate goal of reversing the Hyde Amendment to get American taxpayers to pay them to kill the children of low income women who are on state funded healthcare plans.
Two sets of proposed ballot amendments approved by the Colorado Secretary of State’s Ballot Board last month would accomplish just that. Taxpayer funded abortion on demand through all nine-months of pregnancy.
This represents the holy grail for the abortion industry.
The Proposed Ballot Amendments
At the heart of this debate are two proposed amendments to the Colorado constitution, known as initiatives #89 and #90. Both seek to repeal the ban on taxpayer funding for abortions, but they differ in key respects.
Initiative #89 takes a three-pronged approach:
First, it explicitly recognizes a broad and unlimited constitutional right to abortion.
Second, it prohibits the government from limiting or discriminating against this “right” by prohibiting the state from refusing to pay for abortions, thereby ensuring state-funded access to abortion for low-income individuals.
Lastly, in order for this to work, the proponents seek to repeal Section 50 of the Colorado Constitution, which currently prohibits the use of public funds for abortion services.
Initiative #90, mirrors #89 in the points related to taxpayer funding of abortion but stops short of explicitly establishing a broad constitutional right to abortion.
The Strategic Implications
The introduction of these two versions is undoubtedly a strategic move by abortion advocates, who are acutely aware of the potential legal challenges that could lie ahead if the pro-life movement decides to challenge the amendments.
Pro-life legal experts argue that combining the establishment of a broad and unlimited right to abortion with the regulation of taxpayer funded insurance programs, as well as the repeal the constitutional provision that currently bans public funding constitutes multiple subjects — a violation of Colorado’s single subject rule for constitutional amendments.
By getting the title board to approve two version of the amendment for circulation, the proponents of these amendments are preemptively bracing for legal challenges, ready to defend their position or pivot as necessary.
The question is, will pro-lifers sue them?
The Time is Now
With the clock ticking on the signature collection process, opponents of these amendments should recognize the urgency of the situation. Challenging Amendment #89 after signatures have been collected could be a strategically sound move, as it would significantly hinder the efforts of abortion advocates to meet the deadline to collect signatures.
Based on the recent history of abortion measures that have made it on the Colorado ballot, it seems likely that any pro-abortion measure that is put on the ballot will get approved by Colorado’s rapidly changing electorate and by the massive campaign war chests enjoyed by abortion advocates.
The Role of Advocacy Groups
In this high-stakes battle, legal advocacy groups such as Americans United for Life (AUL), Thomas More Society, and Alliance Defending Freedom might very well play a pivotal role in the litigation stage. After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with the decision in Dobbs, pro-life legal advocacy organizations appear to be struggling to develop a coherent strategy to advance or even defend the right to life, while abortion advocates such as the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU have decided to take the battle for unlimited abortion to the ballot box and the courts.
If the proposed amendment makes it on the ballot, it will be up to Christian churches like the Catholic Church and political organizations like Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America to shoulder the heavy burden of attempting to match the almost unlimited pro-abortion war chest and the extreme bias in the main stream media. In 2022, this overwhelming funding and media bias advantage resulted in victory for abortion advocates in five out of the five ballot measures.
As Colorado grapples with the question of abortion funding, the path forward for the pro-life movement remains uncertain. The proposed amendments in Colorado represent a bold challenge to the long established idea that Americans do not support taxpayer funded abortion.
It follows the trend by abortion advocates to put forward a bold vision of abortion as a fundamental and unlimited right, while eviscerating the right to life of the preborn child.
Meanwhile a grassroots group of Colorado women have put forward a proposal to recognize the right to life of the child in the womb, calling it the 2024 Colorado Life Initiative. To date no large pro-life organization has joined the pro-lifers and their effort faces a substantial uphill battle simply to collect the necessary signatures without an influx of funds or any powerful allies.