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Louisiana voters approve amendment limiting abortion protections, according to CNN projections

Voters in two states weighed in on abortion rights on Election Day.

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Caroline Kelly
CNN — Voters in two states weighed in on abortion rights on Election Day.

Louisiana voters decided to amend the state's constitution by adding language that expressly states the document offers no protections for a right to abortion or the funding of abortion, and Colorado voters rejected a ban on abortion beginning at 22 weeks of pregnancy, according to CNN projections.

The results come as the national fight over the future of abortion law in the US intensifies, and Republicans deepened the conservative tilt of the US Supreme Court last month with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and President Donald Trump sparred on the topic in September, with the former vice president arguing that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case legalizing abortion, was "on the ballot" in 2020.

Louisiana voters approved Proposed Amendment No. 1 by 62% to 38%, according to CNN projections. Should Roe be overturned, the amendment would prevent the state courts from declaring abortion restrictions unconstitutional at the state level.

The state isn't the first to amend its constitution this way -- Alabama and West Virginia did so in 2018, as did Tennessee in 2014.

The Louisiana ballot measure marked another attempt by the state to restrict abortion. The US Supreme Court struck down in June a Louisiana restriction barring doctors from performing the procedure unless they had admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and a decision from a federal appellate court prevented the state's "heartbeat" abortion ban, passed last year, from going into effect.

"We are just so thankful, so happy that women and babies can be supported in this state," said Angie Thomas, associate director of the Louisiana Right to Life.

"We are really dedicated to moving into a next chapter, which will be where abortion becomes unthinkable because every woman has enough support and love," she continued, adding that "if Roe v. Wade is overturned, then this state is certainly ready to become a pro-life state."

Michelle Erenberg, executive director of Lift Louisiana, a reproductive rights non-profit that's part of a coalition against the amendment, told CNN that Tuesday's "result is deeply disappointing, but this feeling of sadness is temporary."

"Anyone or any organization in Louisiana who fights for reproductive freedom knows that these are hard battles to win," she continued, "but we keep fighting because women -- not just those of means but all women and all people who can become pregnant -- deserve the basic right of bodily autonomy and high quality reproductive healthcare, which includes abortion."

In Colorado, voters rejected Proposition 115 by a 59% to 41% vote, according to CNN projections. It would have banned abortion beginning at 22 weeks of pregnancy. The measure included exceptions to save the life of the pregnant woman but not for instances of rape or incest. Doctors who continue to perform abortions at 22 weeks would have faced a fine up to $5,000.

The results maintain Colorado as one of seven states that do not bar some abortions past a specific point in pregnancy, according to data from the abortion-rights research group the Guttmacher Institute. Data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's office shows that women from more than 30 states have traveled to Colorado to access abortions.

"We're all sighing a breath of relief this evening," said Karen Middleton, executive director of the reproductive rights group Cobalt, which was part of a coalition formed in the spring to fight the proposed restrictions.

"I am grateful that Colorado voters have once again said no to intrusion on decisions about abortion access," she told CNN. "Colorado will continue to remain a safe haven for people to access abortion care in a moment where we don't know what might happen at the Supreme Court."

Middleton added, "I'm hoping that this margin helps slow down the idea that they should be running these measures in other states."

Giuliana Day, one of the measure's co-sponsors, said Tuesday that she was "just full of gratitude -- it's been an incredible experience, and the people in Colorado have been so gracious in having these conversations."

"The results were not exactly what we were expecting, but still, as a community we came together, and we raised awareness about such a critical issue," she said, adding that she was grateful for "all the people and the volunteers that worked so hard for this proposition."

"We're still going to keep fighting," Day said, calling her cause "the human rights issue of our lifetime."

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