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NYT Weighs In on State Antiabortion-Rights Ballot Measures

NYT Weighs In on State Antiabortion-Rights Ballot Measures

October 14, 2014 — Voters in three states next month will consider "ballot measures aimed at ending or severely limiting abortion rights," a New York Times editorial states, referencing referendums in Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee.

In Colorado, Amendment 67 "is a modified but no less unconstitutional version of the preposterous 'personhood' proposals Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2008 and 2010," the Times explains. The amendment's "wording advertises the initiative as protecting women, when, in fact, it would do the opposite," the editorial argues, noting that it would "confe[r] on fertilized eggs legal rights and protections that apply to living individuals, criminalizing abortion even in cases of rape or incest or to protect a woman's health."

Further, the Colorado measure would "curtail access to some commonly used methods of contraception and fertility treatments, while subjecting women who suffer a miscarriage and their doctors to investigation and possible prosecution because of suspicions that deliberate or negligent actions led to the miscarriage," according to the Times.

Meanwhile, North Dakota's Constitutional Measure 1 (SCR 4009), "another personhood initiative, would similarly limit abortion rights, not by invoking the criminal code, but by adding restrictive language to the State Constitution," the editorial states. "North Dakota has been so inhospitable to reproductive rights -- it has only one abortion provider -- that its initiative will be tougher to beat than Colorado's," according to the editorial.

The Tennessee measure (Amendment 1) could enable the state Legislature to enact "new obstacles to safe and legal abortions, which are already subject to serious restrictions in the state," but, "[f]ortunately, Tennessee's rules for amending the State Constitution set a high bar. In addition to requiring a majority vote, the initiative must receive more than half the number of total votes cast in the governor's race -- a bigger challenge," the Times concludes (New York Times, 10/13).