Powerful Christian-right group aligned with 33 Colorado Republicans against Planned Parenthood

(Must read – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

prolifevsprochoiceThirty-three Republican members of the Colorado legislature joined last year with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a national anti-choice and anti-LGBT organization, in demanding the Colorado health department investigate Planned Parenthood, according to a letter released by ADF via Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg’s office.

Considered to be one of the most powerful Christian right organizations in America, ADF is well-known at the Colorado legislature for pushing legislation and testifying in favor of the social-conservative agenda.

But it’s rare to see ADF form a direct alliance with so many legislators, as it did in advocating for a Planned Parenthood investigation.

“I’m not surprised to see ADF branching out into working alongside state legislators,” said Robert Boston, author of Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do, via an email. “While I’m not aware of efforts on this scale in other states, I do know that ADF has of late been sending unsolicited ‘advice’ to state and local lawmakers concerning issues like the ability of government clerks to refuse service to same-sex couples. The influx of Tea Party-style Republicans in state governments since 2014 has given the group a host of natural allies in the state capitols, and it’s not surprising to see this relationship growing.”

While its work directly with legislators isn’t widely seen, ADF has a longstanding and multi-pronged history of attacking Planned Parenthood, including efforts to defund the health-care organization and to organize grassroots opposition among people and businesses. The organization’s anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ stances are widely documented.

In a 2015 handbook designed to help religious entities discriminate without facing legal repercussions, ADF equates bestiality and incest with being LGBTQ, participating in adultery, and using pornography.

“We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female,” states the handbook. “These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.”

The handbook continues: “We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)”

ADF, which did not return a call for comment, campaigned in support of a 2003 Texas lawsuit, arguing that it’s “clearly” true that “same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem.” ADF has backed efforts to criminalize homosexuality abroad, according to a report by Media Matters for America.

ADF has gained attention more recently for providing legal defense for anti-LGBTQ business owners who refuse to serve same-sex patrons.

“ADF and its allies are attempting to reverse something like 50 years of social progress,” wrote Boston, who serves as communications director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a national progressive organization. “They are essentially at war with modernity. Some might argue that this is alarmist, and it won’t happen. But the fact is, reproductive rights have been under constant assault since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, and opponents of legal abortion have made a lot of progress.”

In the September 25 letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), GOP lawmakers requested the “standards or criteria that are required to initiate an investigation” of Planned Parenthood, and it asked how a heavily edited video that falsely purported to show illegal dealings in fetal tissue donation would not be investigated.

The video and others like it, part of an undercover series by the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), has been discredited and their creators indicted, but the videos have spawned local and national Republican-led hearings and investigations of Planned Parenthood. No evidence has shown Planned Parenthood to have broken any laws.

The ADF letter, which has not been previously reported on, came after CDPHE, in an August 31 letter, rejected a demand by many of the same state legislators to “initiate an investigation” of Planned Parenthood.

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“Really Small Government”–Abortion Ultrasound Bill Dies

To wit–government small enough to fit in, well…as NARAL Pro Choice Colorado’s Karen Middleton memorably described yesterday:

Karen Middleton HB 1218 Press Conf April 21 State Cap

Places you probably don’t want it.

Here’s the press release from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado on the defeat yesterday of House Bill 16-1218, a bill that would have required ultrasounds and non-medical waiting periods for women seeking an abortion:

For the second straight year, a bill introduced by anti-choice legislators that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, a 24 hour waiting period, and non-medical propaganda being read to women seeking abortion care has failed in Committee. HB 1218 was defeated in the House Health Committee on an 8-5 vote. All the Democrats on the Committee are women.

According to Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, “HB 1218 is designed to shame and humiliate women who seek abortion care and to trap doctors in red tape and regulations. It crosses a line for Colorado women and I am glad legislators saw it that way as well.”

Dr. Aaron Lazorwitz, a Denver Ob-Gyn, testified in opposition to the bill. According to Dr. Lazorwitz, “There is no medical reason to mandate a 24 hour waiting period or to force a woman to view an ultrasound. HB 1218 would also introduce non-medical language such as ‘unborn child’ into legislation that could be used to establish fetal personhood, an idea that has already been rejected by Colorado voters three times.”

HB 1218 is yet another “model bill” from the national anti-choice group Americans United for Life, as detailed in NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s report, “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups Are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado.”

As everyone knows, this legislation was never going to get far in the Democratic-controlled House. The decision to introduce this legislation in the House instead of the GOP-held Colorado Senate was deliberate, part of the delicate balance Republicans try to achieve between pleasing their fervently anti-choice base and remaining viable in general elections where anti-abortion bills become significant liabilities.

What we can tell you about House Bill 16-1218, despite the fact that it was killed in committee yesterday, is that it was sponsored in the House by Reps. Lori Saine, Patrick Neville, Steve Humphrey, JoAnn Windholz, Kevin Priola, Justin Everett, Clarice Navarro, Dan Nordberg, and Kim Ransom. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Sens. Tim Neville, Laura Woods, Chris Holbert, Kent Lambert, Kevin Grantham, Vicki Marble, Kevin Lundberg, and Randy Baumgardner.

In short, many of the sponsors of this bill to require a highly invasive ultrasound for nonmedical reasons of women seeking an abortion are running in some of 2016’s most competitive legislative races. Races where the last thing you want to have is an extreme record on wedge issues. We can’t honestly tell you if they have evaluated the full political consequences of sponsoring a bill like this, or if that have done so, you know, realistically.

But if it’s not used against them with swing voters to devastating effect between now and November, we’ll be very surprised.

Ready For Your Mandatory Transvaginal Ultrasound, Ladies?

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

A release from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado announces a press conference tomorrow on House Bill 16-1218, which they describe as a “mandatory transvaginal ultrasound” abortion restriction bill, ahead of debate in a Colorado House committee:

For the second straight year, anti-choice legislators have introduced legislation that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, a 24 hour waiting period, and non-medical propaganda being read to women seeking abortion care. HB 1218 is yet another “model bill” from the national anti-choice group Americans United for Life, as detailed in NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s report, “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups Are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado.”

The bill will be heard Thursday afternoon in the House Health Committee. All the Democrats on the Committee are women.

According to Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, “When Donald Trump talked about punishing women for having abortions, these are exactly the types of bills he was talking about. HB 1218’s only purpose is to shame and humiliate women in order to discourage them from seeking abortion care.”

Before the hearing, legislators and physicians will be holding a press conference to highlight how these kinds of bills both harm women’s health and contradict the will of Colorado voters. And for those unfamiliar with what the bill actually does – as sponsors have been in the past – advocates will have an actual ultrasound wand on hand to illustrate the point.

transvaginalHouse Bill 1218 is sponsored by a number of vulnerable Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Kevin Priola, Clarice Navarro, and JoAnn Windholz, as well as Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada–arguably the top Democratic target of the 2016 elections in either chamber. Their well-known personal anti-choice convictions notwithstanding, it is nonetheless a real surprise to see these politically vulnerable legislators up for election this year sponsoring such distasteful legislation as a bill to require medically unnecessary ultrasounds of women seeking an abortion.

But at least for one Colorado House committee’s worth of distaste, we’re going there.

Woods and Neville Go Down in Flames on Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

(As bad as it sounds – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

On a voice vote late yesterday, the Colorado Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton) and Laura Woods (R-Westminster) that would have deleted funding for a state-run program credited with decreasing the teen pregnancies and abortions by over 35 percent.

It was a watershed moment for backers of the program, whose efforts to procure state funding were killed last year by Senate Republicans–as chronicled by national news outlets and lowly blogs alike.

But the watershed moment was nearly eclipsed by the water cooler discussion of why in the world Woods would go out of her way to oppose an astonishingly successful teen pregnancy prevention program, given the spectacular bipartisan allure of lowering teen pregnancies and abortions?

Woods doesn’t return my calls, so someone else will have to ask her, but the stakes are about as high as they can get, as control of state government likely depends on who wins Woods’ swing senate district in November.

Politics aside, Woods has been consistent in standing up for her anti-choice and Tea-Party positions, from the day she started running for the legislature until now–as opposed to other state Republicans who’ve essentially re-invented themselves (Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Mike Coffman) when faced with tough election campaigns in moderate districts.

Woods didn’t speak at last night’s senate hearing, leaving her co-sponsor Sen. Tim Neville to explain their hostility toward reducing abortions and pregnancies among teenagers.

Neville started out by saying he was concerned about the “widespread and temporary use of sterilization products on women and girls in Colorado.” Arguably, you can describe the program that way, if you must. Under Colorado’s Family Planning Initiative, which has been privately funded, low-income women and girls receive free or reduced-cost long acting reversible contraception (LARC), such as intrauterine devices (IUDs).

State Sen. Tim Neville.

State Sen. Tim Neville.

Neville, who’s the leading GOP contender to defeat Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, went on to say (Listen here at 535:35).

Neville: These IUDs and other issues do nothing to prevent the spread of STDs [sexually transmitted diseases]. There is nothing to suggest that the psychological and medical risks and costs associated with the increased sexual activity will be managed or addressed by these funds or this legislation.

The use of IUDs has never been shown to encourage more sex, as you might suspect. So the psychological risk-benefit analysis should focus on the mental-health impact of being a teen parent or having an abortion versus avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

Neville, who was bothered by lack of parental notification in administering the contraception under the program, argued that the LARC program isn’t necessary because “birth control is already provided, free, to anyone who needs it who qualifies” under the Affordable Care Act.

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Reporters should take note of talk-show host’s line of questioning on abortion

(“Squeaky” Craig Silverman makes good? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Craig Silverman.

Craig Silverman.

KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman has been doing us all a favor by interviewing Colorado’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates, but his interview with El Paso Country Commissioner Peggy Littleton Saturday stood out, because he dug in with follow-up questions.

Silverman: If Roe vs. Wade is overturned then states will have the right to criminalize abortion. Do you think abortion is a form of murder?

Littleton: [no answer]

Silverman: Are you pro-life or pro-choice, Peg Littleton?

Littleton: When we look at life, Craig, we have to consider that all life is valuable. And it is a decision of those people who chose to have an impact on their own lives. I personally am pro-life. I would always prefer that people choose life. But I would never judge them for making a decision that I have no impact on. I’ve never been in a position where I had a 14 or 15- year old who was raped or was a victim of incest. I would never put myself in a position to make a judgment call for someone else. And I will just leave it there. So let’s go back to why I would be the next Senator who would be best.

Silverman: No, No! I’m sorry. I just feel like you’re ducking and diving a little bit. I don’t know why you’re all over Trump for saying that he’s pro-life and he thinks a woman should suffer a sanction. Why would you give immunity to a woman under such circumstances? It’s not a 14- or 15-year-old who’s been raped. Let’s talk about a 32-year-old career woman who has an unintended pregnancy and says, ‘You know, this is not the right time or place.’ And she goes to Planned Parenthood and has an abortion. Or uses the morning-after pill. So, do you think she should she be sanctioned for that?

Littleton: I will not sanction the right of people to do what they feel is in their best interests. That is not my judgment call. But I’d like to get back to some the reasons why I would be the best choice for the next U.S. Senator that would be able to take Michael Bennet out of the Senate, if we could, please.

Silverman: Well, I’m afraid that I am going to control the questioning. And if I feel you dodge the questions, it’s going to make me ask them over again.

Silverman has a valid and important line of questioning here–trying to clarify who should be punished (the woman? the doctor?) if abortion becomes a crime. And why.

“Trump’s interchange with Chris Mathews had just happened, and my show thrives on being current,” Silverman told me via email when asked to explain why he was asking Littleton tough follow-up questions, when he’d let other candidates slide on the issue. “Beyond that, I had a fresh take on the subject before Peg came on, from this interesting link provided me by one of my longtime pro-life listeners.”

Reporters should put Silverman’s line of questioning to all candidates, as the election season heats up. It helps people understand what’s at stake if abortion were to be outlawed or restricted. And what wannabe lawmakers think about it.

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DCCC Calls Out Coffman’s Stealth Trump Support

Head by Coffman, Hair by Trump

Head by Coffman, Hair by Trump

As released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) yesterday, calling attention to an obscure but on-record signal of support from Rep. Mike Coffman for embattled Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump:

With the acrimony in the Republican presidential primary reaching an all-time high, the remaining candidates have walked away from their respective pledges to support the eventual nominee. The writing is on the wall: the Republican Party is falling apart, and with it, Coffman’s reelection chances. Remember that Coffman’s campaign has already said he will “obviously” support Trump as the nominee…

“The Republican presidential nomination process has turned into a dumpster fire that is engulfing Congressman Coffman’s campaign,” DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law. “At this point it’s really troubling that Coffman thinks it’s so ‘obvious’ that Trump is worthy of his support.” [Pols emphasis]

While much is still unknown, two things are clear: the Republican Party has zero chance of uniting after this primary, and both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz cause great harm to candidates down-ballot. At the hands of Trump, all Republicans can expect to suffer amongst women, Latinos, millennials, independents and other key voting blocs. And the ultra-conservative Cruz (who’s singular accomplishment is shutting down the government), according to NRCC polling, is even worse for down-ballot Republicans’ reelection prospects than Trump.

By way of explanation, the DCCC is referring to a paywalled report we noted a few weeks ago from the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning, in which Coffman’s spokesperson was directly asked if Coffman would support Trump as the GOP  presidential nominee. The answer was an unequivocal yes:

“Will Mike Coffman support the Republican nominee over Bernie or Hillary?” said campaign spokeswoman Kristin Strohm. “The answer is obviously yes. [Pols emphasis] And he believes strongly it is going to be Marco Rubio.”

But in a later story from 9NEWS, Coffman declined to comment on the “hypothetical” of Trump winning the nomination:

Coffman (who has endorsed Marco Rubio) “is not commenting on a hypothetical,” his spokeswoman Cinamon Watson told 9NEWS, though he did offer some criticism in a written statement.

“If he has any true aspiration of winning the White House, [Trump] needs to elevate his rhetoric out of the gutter,” Coffman said.

These two comments have yet to be, you know, reconciled. In fact we haven’t seen any new statement from Coffman on the GOP presidential race at all since favored candidate Marco Rubio pulled out after another humiliating defeat in his home state of Florida.

Given what Trump appears to be doing to the GOP’s reputation among women voters, that is, destroying it for a generation, America’s Most Vulnerable Congressman® probably should make some kind of updated statement! Then again, doing so would invite questions about Coffman’s own record on issues like abortion that Trump is presently toxifying on behalf of the entire Republican Party.

All told, it’s kind of a shit sandwich. But he can’t hide from it forever.

State senator’s anti-choice record may lead to the end of divided government in Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Choice issues will continue to impregnate political discourse as we head toward November for the simple reason that women, a huge swing voting bloc in Colorado, care about candidates’ positions on abortion. Of course they do. That’s common sense.

Yet, you still hear anti-choice conservatives saying how insulted they are by progressives who talk about choice, because somehow they think it means progressives don’t think women care about the economy, the environment, etc. Women obviously care about those things too. But also, choice–which is often less muddled, in terms of where candidates stand, and therefore defines a candidate more than other issues.

And choice issues could prove decisive in the senate district that will likely determine if Democrats control Colorado’s government after November. That would be the seat held by anti-choice state Sen. Laura Woods (R-Westminster).

You can read more details in RH Reality Check, but, briefly, Woods isn’t following the mold of Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner. He completely denied his co-sponsorship of a personhood abortion-ban bill in an effort to win over state-wide voters, who pretty much mirror the voters in Woods’ swing district, evenly divided among Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliateds.

Woods is sticking to her conservative principles, as she puts it. After openly embracing Dudley Brown’s vision of America, including personhood, 1) during her 2014 primary, 2) during her 2014 general election campaign, and 3) during her first year in office, Woods is 4) again sponsoring a personhood bill this election year–along with a bill requiring women to be offered an ultrasound prior to having an abortion (and also to wait 24 hours).

Last week, Woods’ Democratic opponent, Rachel Zenzinger, wrote on Facebook that after last year’s Planned Parenthood massacre, Woods was, in Zenzinger’s words, “advocating for this kind of [clinic] violence.” Woods responded on Twitter by condemning the clinic attack and all violence, but, as someone pointed out on Twitter, it took Woods 83 to do this. But she’s never explained her Facebook post shortly after the shooting, which was supportive of terrorism for higher justice. No one would argue that war or revolution are sometimes justified,  but in the wake of the shooting her post made it appear like she supported the shooter–especially because she didn’t comment on it.

Political junkies agree that the odds are against Woods winning the Jeffco seat during a presidential election year, in a district she won by only about 650 votes in the 2014 GOP wave year. And, you’d also have to think that the women who didn’t vote in 2014, but turn out this year, will likely to pay attention to Woods’ positions on abortion and birth control.

“If you’ve looked at my voting record at all, what you will know is, I’m an independent thinker,” Woods told The Post Jan. 10. “…I bucked my leadership, I bucked the party, I bucked the caucus … if it didn’t line up with my principles or my district.”

But repeated polls, and common sense, say the swing voters in her district disagree with her on choice.

Yes, Those DOA Abortion Bills Matter

2016-02-11 13.13.01A press release from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado on the death yesterday of two anti-abortion bills in the Colorado House, one a so-called “fetal homicide” bill with no exceptions to prevent the prosecution of women, and a second bill that simply made abortion a felony in Colorado with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest:

Today, physicians and reproductive health activists spoke out against and defeated yet more attempts to ban abortion and put politicians in between women and their doctors in Colorado. Two dangerous, anti-women’s health bills failed in House committees. The first bill, HB 1007, would create fetal personhood. The second, HB 1113, would ban abortion and criminalize doctors who provide vital care for Colorado women. The goal of both bills was clear – to attack access to abortion in Colorado and interfere in the doctor-patient relationship…

According to Dr. Aaron Lazowicz, a Denver Ob-Gyn who testified against HB 1007, the fetal personhood bill, “I recently cared for a woman who had previously undergone surgical sterilization after having two children and several years later presented to my emergency department with an ectopic pregnancy that had ruptured inside of her. She was actively bleeding and had to be rushed to the operating room so that we could take out the ectopic pregnancy to stop the bleeding.

She and her husband had made the decision together that two children was enough for them, but unfortunately no surgical procedure can work perfectly 100% of the time. If House bill 1007 were to pass, this woman and I would be faced with the real risk of criminal prosecution for trying to save her life due to ambiguous terminology used in this bill. My patients expect the best and most appropriate treatment from me and this bill would interfere with my ability to serve their needs.”

…According to Dr. Emily Schneider, a practicing Denver Ob-Gyn who testified against HB 1113, which would make abortion a felony in Colorado and criminalize doctors, “I have treated a wide array of patients in my practice. Every woman is different, and every situation is different. As a physician, I have to be able to use my best medical judgment based on the individual needs of the patient…[t]hese are not hypothetical horror stories. These are the real-life, private medical decisions faced by and made by physicians and their patients every day. This bill will ultimately hurt my patients, as well as women across Colorado.”

Rep. Kit Roupe (R-Hiding).

Rep. Kit Roupe (R-In Hiding).

After hours of debate in two House committees, both anti-abortion bills debated yesterday were killed. In the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee, the discomfort from some Republicans over these bills was especially evident. Rep. Kit Roupe, in a tight race for one of the most competitive seats in El Paso County, was excused from voting. Another Republican, Rep. Dan Thurlow, bucked fellow Republicans once again by voting against the bill even though there were enough Democratic votes to kill it without his help.

The lack of any press coverage of yesterday’s long hearings seems to reflect a collective judgment that these bills destined for death are not worthy of coverage. With fewer reporters covering bigger beats than ever today, it’s a judgment you can see reporters making without prejudice.

It’s also totally wrong.

The truth is, abortion rights are in serious peril in many states. Recent restrictions on abortion in Texas, as one example, have dramatically reduced access to abortion in that state with severe consequences for Texas women. But despite the hundreds of abortion restrictions that have been successfully passed across the nation in recent years, Republicans in Colorado have somehow managed to make work a schizophrenic campaign of attacking abortion rights on a more or less continuous basis–then claiming that it doesn’t matter at election time because “abortion rights are not in danger.” If Democrats try to make an issue of Republican attempts to restrict abortion rights in Colorado, Republicans complain about Democrats being “obsessed with social issues.”

As the local media downplays the ongoing Republican attempts to restrict and even totally ban abortion in Colorado, a grave disservice is being done to Colorado voters. The reason why Republicans cannot restrict abortion rights in Colorado is simple: in Colorado, they do not have control. The problem is, every election risks a change of power that could easily result in Texas-style abortion restrictions, or worse, being passed and signed into law in Colorado. In 2014, GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez openly promised as much, even declaring IUDs to be “abortifacients.”

Bottom line: these DOA abortion restriction bills are not “meaningless.” They are a warning–of bad things that are happening right now in other states, and are never more than one election away in Colorado.

The media ignores them not at their peril, but all of ours.

BREAKING: Personhood activists launch municipal abortion-ban initiative in CO Springs

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Abortion-RightsIn a move that could make the complex life of being a Republican even more complicated, Personhood USA has announced plans to place an abortion-ban measure on the ballot in Colorado Springs, where a domestic terrorist killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic at the end of last year.

“The people who reached out to us in Colorado Springs don’t want any violence, including abortion, there,” Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told me, adding, as I wrote in an RH Reality Check post this morning, that the campaign was planned before the shooting occurred.

Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it will re-open the clinic next week “confirmed” the decision to undertake the initiative, which will mirror (at the municipal level) one of Colorado’s three failed state-wide measures that would have banned all abotion, even for rape, Mason said.

Personhood organizers are just beginning the legal process and paperwork required to place the initiative on the ballot, but they expect to have it completed within the next two months, Mason said.

So it’s not clear when the measure will appear on the ballot, if at all, but the signature-gathering effort alone will likely further push choice issues into election campaigns–sparking competition among Republicans competing for anti-choice primary voters and helping to define Republican and Democratic candidates up and down the ballot in November.

Could the measure push GOP turnout in Colorado Springs, a hotbed of evangelical churches? I have no idea, to be honest, but you have to think the electoral downsides of the latest personhood campaign, taking place in the wake of a massacre that taints the anti-choice cause, will hurt Republicans in the end on Election Day.

Planned Parenthood Colorado Springs To Reopen, Finally

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

A press release today from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains announces that the organization’s clinic in Colorado Springs, which was the target of a domestic terror attack last November by a self-proclaimed “warrior for the babies,” will reopen later this month:

The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood health center will once again offer the full range of sexual and reproductive health services beginning on February 15th. The health center will provide services in a portion of the building while construction and repair work continues, and with limited space and schedule.

“On February 15th we will open the doors to serve our community just as we have done for generations. We are in awe of our healing and resilient colleagues in Colorado Springs. They are eager to get back to the mission they so deeply care about and the people they so compassionately care for. We welcome our team and our community back into the space with open arms and full hearts.”

The safety of patients and staff is our top priority. Planned Parenthood has in place strong and increased security measures to ensure that this health center — and all of Planned Parenthood buildings — are safe, supportive, welcoming environments for all people to get the high-­‐quality health care and education they need.

“We stand, stronger than ever, for the belief that every person in this community, this country, and around the world deserves access to reproductive health care without fear of harassment or violence. We promised in those first days after the tragedy to repair and reopen in Colorado Springs as soon as possible and we are making good on that promise.”

As the Colorado Springs Independent reported late last month, the city has been without the abortion services provided by this clinic since the attack in November, forcing patients looking for these services to drive long distances. Other medical services provided by Planned Parenthood, which in fact account for the overwhelming majority of services delivered, were picked up by other health providers in the area but not without delays and inconvenience for existing patients.

Nobody on either side wants to admit it, but the plain goal of accused murderer Robert Dear was to shut down the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs–and he succeeded with his actions in doing just that for two and a half months. When you consider this in the context of GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s explicit blaming of Planned Parenthood for the attack on its own clinic, the campaign against Planned Parenthood over the past year based on heavily edited undercover videos, and laws passed in other states and proposed annually in Colorado that would regulate most abortion clinics out of existence, a disturbing reality comes into focus.

By fiat or by violence, shutting down Planned Parenthood is the common goal.

And it can happen here. It did happen here.

DeGette To House GOP: End Planned Parenthood Witch Hunts

Rep. Diana DeGette (D).

Rep. Diana DeGette (D).

As the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports:

Five members of Congress, including Denver Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette, are calling on their Republican colleagues to end the investigations into Planned Parenthood.

The request comes in the wake of a grand jury indictment in Texas against David Daleiden and Sandra S. Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress, the producers of heavily-edited and widely-discredited videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials engaging in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.

Daleiden and Merritt were indicted last week by a grand jury in Houston, which had been asked by the Texas Lieutenant Governor to investigate the Center for Medical Progress videos. The grand jury found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, but did indict Daleiden and Merritt for presenting fake driver’s licenses, a felony in Texas, and attempting to purchase human organs, a misdemeanor…

More from Rep. Diana DeGette’s statement:

Today, Pro-Choice Caucus co-chairs, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) led over 120 of their Democratic colleagues and called for an end to ongoing, politically-motivated House and Senate investigations into Planned Parenthood, in light of the many independent state investigations across the country that have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

The Pro-Choice Caucus co-chairs joined their colleagues in both chambers on a letter to Republicans calling for an end to partisan investigations of Planned Parenthood in the House and Senate, following the Texas grand jury’s decision last week to exonerate Planned Parenthood and indict the creators of the highly fabricated, deceptive undercover videos designed to discredit Planned Parenthood and undermine women’s access to health care on federal charges.

In their letter to Republicans, they wrote: “Our country faces serious challenges when it comes to issues like supporting working families, creating good jobs, and boosting wages. The families and communities we represent rightly want us focused on efforts like these—not political attempts to undermine women’s access to health care and investigate their personal health care decisions. We urge you to listen to them.”

Will House Republicans listen? In all likelihood not. But following the indictment of the prime conspirators in the undercover video campaign against Planned Parenthood by a Houston grand jury, this latest assault on the organization has come full circle. In the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing by the organization after numerous investigations by Congress and local officials, there’s nothing left to this story but pandering to anti-abortion activists who need no urging.

Combine that with the domestic terror attack here in Colorado on a Planned Parenthood clinic, carried out by a man determined to stop the fictitious sale of “baby parts,” and DeGette has more than just cause to ask for these witch hunts to stop.

She has an obligation.

PolitiFact Colorado Debuts With Devastating Coffman Refudiation

mostlytrueWe’ve been anticipating the first story from the new collaboration between Denver’s ABC affiliate 7NEWS and the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking resource PolitiFact operated by the Tampa Bay Times. Last night, Politifact Colorado debuted with its first fact check of 2016, and it’s a doozy: powerfully validating a key attack on Rep. Mike Coffman from women’s advocacy group EMILY’s List:

Emily’s List is stoking the abortion debate in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District race with a fundraising email saying Republican incumbent Mike Coffman “co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape.”

Emily’s List — a political organization that supports the election of Democratic women who support abortion rights — has endorsed Coffman’s opponent, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat. Its mailer focused on reproductive rights, abortion and Roe v. Wade…

We wanted to check the accuracy of Emily’s List’s characterization of Coffman’s role in the legislation.

Coffman did co-sponsor the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, which attempted to redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt “forcible rape” — and not rape in broader terms…

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

7NEWS’ Alan Gathright, a veteran political reporter going back to the storied days of the Rocky Mountain News, correctly notes that Republicans did amend the bill under intense fire from, well, everyone with a conscience–but being amended by voice vote, there’s no record of Coffman’s agreement or lack thereof with the change.

And the bottom line: he was a co-sponsor of the original “forcible rape” language.

Emily’s List said that Coffman “co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape.”

The record shows Coffman did co-sponsor the bill to redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt “forcible rape.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s important to recognize just how hard Coffman has pushed back on criticism of his record on abortion. In April of 2014, Coffman’s campaign successfully prevailed on Denver Post political news editor Chuck Plunkett to remove a story about Coffman’s abortion record that had already been published, claiming that the story “shouldn’t have run.” The story acknowledged Coffman’s shifting stand on abortion, but uncomfortably provided fresh coverage of what had been Coffman’s longstanding position–that is, no abortions, and no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. Much like now-Sen. Cory Gardner’s audacious deceptions on the issue in 2014, the response to any examination in the media of Coffman’s abortion record is feigned exasperation in public and aggressive bullying in private.

Well folks, it’s possible that in the new PolitiFact Colorado, we have an outlet that won’t be bullied. We’ll need to see more fact-checks like this one to be sure, but that would be a welcome–and sorely needed–development in Colorado politics.

Expect Gardner to co-sponsor Life at Conception Act soon

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner spent a good chunk of his election campaign telling us that the Life at Conception Act was really nothing more than a symbolic statement, when, in fact, it is federal personhood legislation that would ban all abortion, even for rape.

Gardner infamously described the Life at Conception Act, which he co-sponsored, this way, despite widespread objections by reporters:

Gardner: “The federal act that you are referring to is simply a statement that I believe in life.”

So you’d expect him to co-sponsor the U.S. Senate version of the bill, as he did in the House.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has just given him the chance, having introduced the Life at Conception Act just this week, as announced in a news release that described the legislation this way:

Paul: “The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known – that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore, is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. Only when America chooses, remembers, and restores her respect for life will we rediscover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”

But Gardner isn’t a co-sponsor yet.

JoAnn Windholz: No Apologies. Dems: Good.

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

Yesterday, supporters of Planned Parenthood delivered a petition signed by over 60,000 people across the nation calling for GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz to resign over her comments blaming the organization for the attack on its clinic in Colorado Springs last November. As the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports:

The group organizing a recall against state Rep. JoAnn Windholz told The Colorado Independent today they plan to drop their effort.

Instead they will focus on keeping Windholz’s name and remarks blaming Planned Parenthood for the shooting at its Colorado Springs clinic in front of her district’s voters between now and Election Day, said organizer Steve Cohn…

About a dozen members of the recall group came to the state Capitol today, asking that Windholz resign. They brought with them more than 63,000 signatures from an online petition that also asked Windholz to step down. According to Chris Burley of Denver, senior campaign manager for Care2, an online petition service, about 2,000 of those signatures came from Coloradans.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch got a response from Windholz:

“I never once blamed the victims and as a supporter of life I am deeply saddened by the loss of any life,” Windholz said in a statement. “I will continue to support life and the values of my constituents.” [Pols emphasis]

Three days after a five-hour standoff left three dead and nine wounded, Windholz, a Republican from Commerce City, posted on her Facebook page comments critical of Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, saying: “The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves.” The post has been removed.

In the aftermath of Windholz’s statements about the Planned Parenthood terror attack in Colorado Springs, Democrats were obviously excited about the opportunity this created in one of the most narrowly-won GOP House victories of 2014. Windholz has always been unapologetically pro-life, but blaming Planned Parenthood for the violence committed against the organization makes that much harder for swing voters to ignore. Where it might have been overlooked previously, now strident anti-abortion politics is a central part of Windholz’s brand–in a politically competitive district ill-suited for it.

With that in mind, the last thing Democrats should want is for Windholz to be forced to resign, allowing her to be replaced by a less-damaged candidate. With Windholz standing by her words, and local Republicans standing behind her, the best place for Windholz from a Democrat’s point of view is right where she is.

As Napoleon said, never interrupt your opponent when they are making a mistake.

One of These Two News Reports Is Wrong

roevwadeAn unusual conflict arose in news reports over an incident Friday on the floor of the Colorado House. As the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports, House Democrats paused to observe the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion rights:

Roughly two dozen Colorado House Democrats took to the floor to recognize the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision.

Other House Democrats stood in silence while their collegues touted the importance of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the nation.

Colorado Republicans, however, would have nothing of it. More than half of the GOP House members walked off the floor, several expressing disgust at the Democrats’ comments. [Pols emphasis]

Oddly, the Denver Post’s Joey Bunch filed a very different report from the same scene:

House Democrats gathered in the speaker’s well to memorialize the 43rd anniversary of Roe. v. Wade, which could have prompted a backlash of hot words from Republican abortion opponents.

Republicans, however, wouldn’t take the bait on an issue Democrats hope to use against them in this year’s state and national elections. [Pols emphasis] An Associated Press-Gfk poll last month showed support for abortion rights at a two-year high in the wake of a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic.

Most of the House Republicans meandered out of the chamber for a few minutes, then returned when a proclamation honoring the Denver Broncos was read. Those who left said it was not an organized walkout…

As you can see, two reporters have characterized the same incident in starkly different terms: Goodland describes Republican actions as “storming out” of the House chamber with much anger, where Bunch seems very much interested in downplaying any emotion–to the point of praising them for “not taking the bait.”

So what really happened here? Well, our sources tell us the scene was far closer to Goodland’s description than Joey Bunch’s. In response to the conflict between their reports, Goodland clarified in a Facebook comment Saturday morning:

I was sitting on the Republican side of the House when the Democrats began their Roe v. Wade comments. I saw one lawmaker (Windholz) bow her head as if in prayer. She then shook her head several times and then got up and left the floor. I heard another lawmaker call the Dems’ remarks “disgusting.” By the time the Dems had finished their comments, most of the House Republicans were outside the chamber. They returned to pass a joint resolution on the Broncos.

Bottom line, I stand by what I wrote. I was the only reporter on the Republican side of the House to see what was going on. [Pols emphasis]

Given the corroboration we’ve heard, and what we already know of the players involved, we have little choice but to validate Goodland’s version of this story over Joey Bunch’s. And if that’s right, Bunch’s editorializing on what transpired is not just inappropriate for a news story, it appears to be factually incorrect–depicting the opposite of what actually occurred.

All we can say is, thank goodness there was more than one reporter there.