Colorado Consent to Abortion Act, Amendment 25 (2000)
Text of measure
The language that appeared on the ballot:
Initiative Statute Analysis by Colorado Legislative Council: requires a doctor and licensed health care or mental health care professional working with a doctor to present specific information to a woman before an abortion; requires a 24-hour waiting period between the time the information is provided and an abortion is performed, except in cases of medical emergency; requires the woman to certify, in writing, that she was provided the information; requires the state to publish and annually update an informational packet and videotape; and creates criminal penalties and civil remedies for violating the provisions of the proposal.
Background and Provisions of the Proposal As a matter of practice, doctors explain the risks, benefits, and alternatives of any medical procedure to patients and require them to sign written consent forms before performing any procedure. This proposal places requirements in state law for obtaining consent before performing an abortion. Under these requirements, a doctor must meet privately with any woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure and discuss the following information with her: - the abortion procedure, including the name of the doctor who will perform the abortion, a medically accurate and complete description of the abortion method, the need for anti-Rh immune globulin therapy, and follow-up care provided by the clinic; - alternatives to an abortion; - the medical risks of an abortion and of carrying a child to term, including, for abortions, the risks of infection or hemorrhage, danger to subsequent pregnancies, breast cancer, and the possible adverse psychological effects; and - details about the fetus, including the probable gestational age and physical characteristics of the fetus at the time of the abortion, the ability of the fetus to survive outside of the womb, and whether the procedure would be likely to inflict pain on the fetus.
A doctor or a licensed professional working with the doctor must also discuss medical assistance benefits that may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care; the financial obligations of the father; and the woman's ability to withhold or withdraw her consent to the abortion at any time before or during the abortion.
Exceptions for medical emergencies. The proposal contains an exception to the consent requirement and the 24-hour waiting period in the case of a medical emergency. A medical emergency is a condition that, in the doctor's judgment, would cause a woman's death or substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.
Materials provided by the state. Each year, the state must publish materials and a videotape which include information about agencies offering alternatives to abortion, and agencies and services available to assist pregnant women. In addition, the state must establish a toll-free 24-hour telephone hotline to provide a list and description of these agencies and services. The materials and videotape include information about the support obligations of the father, and descriptions and photographs of a fetus at two-week increments. The videotape shows an ultrasound image of a fetal heartbeat at various gestational increments beginning at four weeks. The materials and videotape will be available from the state at no cost. Doctors must offer these materials to a woman at least 24 hours before an abortion.
Reporting requirements. Doctors are required to annually submit reports to the state indicating how many women were provided abortion information, how many received a copy of printed materials, how many refused the printed materials, and how many had an abortion. The doctor must also indicate the number of abortions performed under emergency circumstances. The state must annually publish a report of this information.
Penalties. A doctor who fails to provide the required information prior to an abortion, who fails to obtain the woman's written consent, or who fraudulently certifies that the information was provided or consent obtained is guilty of a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to three years imprisonment, fines of up to $100,000, or both. Any person who fails to report the required information to the state is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. Failure to comply with these requirements may also be the basis for disciplinary action against the doctor's license and civil malpractice lawsuits.
Fiscal Impact. The Office of State Planning and Budgeting has determined that implementation of the measure would result in a negative fiscal impact on the department of public health and environment in the amount of $327,125 in FY 2000-01 and $175,569 in FY 2001-02. These amounts include: 1. Development, production, and distribution of video and audio materials; 2. Design and maintenance of a 24-hour hotline; 3. Personal services costs equal to 2.75 FTE in the first year and 1.25 FTE in the second year; and 4. Legal expenses for enforcement of the measure.