Earlier this month, anti-choice advocates filed a Colorado ballot initiative that would ban abortion after 22 weeks.
Colorado is one of a handful of states that don’t restrict abortion based on gestational age, and thus has become a target of increasingly inflammatory rhetoric around the one percent of abortions that occur later in pregnancy.
The initiative, which was filed by conservative activists Erin Behrens and Giuliana Day, could come to a vote in 2020 if they can gather the 124,632 signatures required to make it on the ballot.
So who are Behrens and Day?
Behrens, a 31-year-old mother who lives in the Denver suburb of Arvada, is a well-known conservative activist in the area. A die-hard Trump fan, Behrens helped organize a protest outside Colorado’s capitol after she felt Trump supporters were unfairly excluded from Colorado’s Republican National Convention delegate selection process in 2016.
In a Colorado Public Radio profile from 2016, Behrens said she was initially drawn to Trump for his hardline stance on immigration, and became particularly incensed after hearing about attacks on women on New Year’s Eve in Germany in 2016 that were allegedly committed in large part by men of North African and Arab descent.
“I think the Democrats and a lot of liberal people want a world without borders, and I think that’s not only a dangerous idea, that’s an inhumane idea,” Behrens told CPR. “It’s one thing to have … the freedom to travel wherever you want; it’s another thing to transplant a country full of people into another country where they probably won’t do very well because it’s not their culture.”
Behrens also told CPR she thinks we need to “save Western civilization.”
Asked via email whether she still agrees with Trump’s policies on immigration, specifically his treatment of immigrant families that have been separated at the border, Behrens declined to answer, saying, “Our coalition is centered on the rights of women and children here in Colorado, and those are the topics we will be discussing.”
She also supported a local candidate who aligns with Trump and the alt-right when it comes to immigration and racial issues. According to campaign finance reports, Behrens gave $140 to Grady Nouis’ state house campaign, which relied heavily on anti-immigrant talking points, including pushing the false narrative that immigrants are criminally inclined and pose a threat to public safety. As previously reported by the Colorado Times Recorder, Nouis has promoted and attended multiple rallies organized by alt-right hate groups, and can be seen on video at one such rally repeatedly shouting the n-word at Black bystanders.
Behrens’ more recent social media activity includes a photo she shared of her pregnant belly while holding a sign that reads “It’s my due date today. My baby’s healthy. I’m healthy. In Colorado, it is Legal for me to get an ABORTION today. Our legislature has failed.”
The photo went viral after it was shared by anti-abortion advocates, including the national anti-abortion group Live Nation’s Devin Sena on Twitter, where it drew harsh criticism.
Pro-choice advocates say this increasingly popular anti-choice talking point about abortion “up to the point of birth” is not one that’s rooted in reality, and misrepresents what abortion care later in pregnancy actually looks like.
“Colorado, like several other states, does not limit access to abortion based solely on the gestational age of a pregnancy,” said Denver-area OBGYN Dr. Rebecca Cohen. “Instead, Colorado’s laws take into account the complex, often devastating, sometimes dangerous circumstances that lead people to seek abortion later in pregnancy. After evaluating the health of the patient and the potential viability of the fetus, a Colorado provider may offer later abortions to women, including those who have traveled from places where abortion access is more restricted. Without a maternal or fetal indication for abortion, a healthy woman with a healthy full-term pregnancy would not be offered this option.”
For Behrens, the goal isn’t just about banning later abortion care. As she said in an interview with conservative radio host Dan Caplis, this is only the beginning:
“…this is only the beginning of the conversation. I think we can all agree — 99.9% of us here in Colorado can agree — that five months in is an extremely reasonable limit. Let’s get that passed. Let’s get that on the books. Let’s put the Boulder Abortion Clinic out of business, and prevent those lives from being taken every year. And then let’s come back and talk more about it in 2022 and 2024. Let’s keep talking about it.”Source: Dan Caplis Show
Asked for specifics on her future plans for restricting abortion in Colorado, Behrens said, “We have one specific plan: stop Colorado from being one of the most extreme places in the world.”
Despite at least one prominent anti-choice group in the state opposing her initiative because it doesn’t go far enough, Behrens said she’s “very confident” they’ll be able to obtain enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.
“There has been a groundswell of support since we started,” said Behrens.
In a Facebook post, Behrens said her “prayers were answered when some friends asked me if I’d like to help with a ballot initiative that would finally restrict extreme late-term abortion in our state.”
Behrens would not, however, go into specifics when asked if she was approached by a specific organization to lead the charge in pushing the ballot initiative.
“We are building a strong coalition of grassroots people and organizations that support women and children throughout Colorado,” she said.
A Peruvian immigrant who now resides in Greenwood Villiage, Day was highly engaged in the fight against a Colorado bill to improve sex ed programs in public schools by banning abstinence-only teaching, mandating lessons on consent, ensuring inclusivity for LGBTQ students, and requiring that information about abortion be medically accurate and unbiased.
The bipartisan bill was approved by the legislature in May and was subsequently signed into law by Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis, much to the dismay of conservative activists who testified against the bill in huge numbers and organized well-attended rallies at Colorado’s capitol.
Day helped organize one such a rally, which she promoted on air with conservative radio host John Rush on his Feb. 26 show on KLZ 560 AM.
Like many conservatives who opposed the bill, she repeated falsehoods that it could give sexually graphic information to kindergartners and that there was no option for parents to opt their children out of sex ed programming.
Predictably, Day took issue with the bill’s provision that schools that choose to discuss pregnancy outcome options in sex ed include unbiased information about abortion, and told Rush that students are “being raised by Planned Parenthood.”
But inclusivity for LGBTQ students was perhaps an even bigger sticking point for Day.
“That is what is so outrageous about this bill, they are trying to rob the innocence of our children,” Day said of the bill’s requirement that LGBTQ experiences be included during her appearance on the Americhicks podcast. “Those legislators are going to be remembered for playing a role in having new generations of over-sexualized, depressed, and confused little children.”
If you want to know more about Day’s opinions on LGBTQ people, look no further than her Facebook page. Last year, Day shared a video purporting to show links between pedophilia and homosexuality with the title “SATANIC SODOMITE PEDOPHILE AGENDA EXPOSED” and “THE HIDDEN MISSION OF THE ‘LGBTQ’ MOVEMENT.”
Prior to President Obama’s election in 2012, Day warned her Facebook friends that he was “pro-abortion, in favor of homosexual marriage and against religious freedom.”
Day’s social media activity also reveals just how far her opposition to abortion goes. In 2016, she shared a post from Live Action advocating against abortion access for those who become pregnant after they’ve been raped.
Day did not respond to a request for comment.