Coffman and Carly? Yeah, That’s a Problem

coffmanfiorinaAP reports via CBS4 Denver, Rep. Mike Coffman is campaigning today with former Republican presidential candidate, briefly Ted Cruz’s vice-presidential candidate, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina:

Coffman and the former CEO of Hewlett Packard are among the speakers at the Working Women Event & Panel at CSU Global Campus in Greenwood Village…

Organizers say the Coffman and Fiorina event is by invitation only.

Now, beyond the superficial appeal of a high-profile female politician as a campaign surrogate, Fiorina boosting Coffman is consistent with her apparent desire to succeed Reince Preibus as chairman of the Republican National Committee. Fiorina has been spotted recently stumping for a number of Republican candidates around the nation.

The question for local consumption of course is, is Fiorina good for Mike Coffman? As you can imagine, NARAL Pro Choice Colorado doesn’t think so, slamming both Fiorina and Coffman in a strongly-worded statement this morning:

“It’s interesting that Mike Coffman is holding a “business” event with Carly Fiorina, since both of them believe it is government’s business to get between women and their health care decisions,” Middleton said. “Mike Coffman’s voting record clearly shows a pattern of trying to deprive Colorado women of the right to control their own bodies and make their own healthcare choices. He voted to ban abortion. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood. He even voted to redefine rape to make it harder for survivors to get an abortion. Mike Coffman stands with and behind Donald Trump when it comes to punishing women who have an abortion.

Carly Fiorina is not only anti-choice, she repeatedly lied about Planned Parenthood and then doubled down on the lie when she was called out on it. Neither of them can be trusted to tell the truth on women’s health care.

And as resident of CD 6 myself, I can say that women in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District deserve someone who represents our rights and respects our pro-choice Colorado values. That’s why NARAL Pro-Choice America has endorsed Senator Morgan Carroll to replace Mike Coffman. She is one of us, and we will let voters know who truly stands for them. Keep government out of ‘our business.’”

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Fiorina’s controversial statements about Planned Parenthood during her presidential run, roundly condemned as fabrications which she refused at embarrassing length to disavow, aren’t the only reason why the choice of campaigning with her seems questionable to us. During Fiorina’s tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, she presided over huge layoffs and other disruptive changes to that company, which historically employed thousands of workers in Colorado. A 2005 Northern Colorado Business Report story described some of the damage to HP in Colorado under Fiorina:

Fiorina, recruited in 1999 from Lucent Technologies Inc., disrupted the culture of HP, which for decades prided itself on the “HP Way,” a philosophy that promoted innovation, a collegial respect for employees and great value for customers.

Instead, Fiorina implemented the “Fiorina Way,” amassing power in her own hands, laying off tens of thousands of workers, muzzling employees and creating a general climate of angst within the company…

Fiorina proceeded to lay off thousands worldwide. More than that, she consolidated power in her own hands. Recently, when the board promoted a plan to disperse some of that power in three other executives, Fiorina battled back, leading to her departure.

…Layoffs have been plenty in Northern Colorado, but Fiorina’s desire to control everything makes it tough to gauge exactly how many workers have been eliminated. That’s because she has banned public-relations officials from revealing how many employees work at a particular plant. [Pols emphasis]

Fiorina’s tenure as HP’s CEO was frequently used against her as a presidential candidate, but the story was never fully revisited in Colorado largely because her campaign never really became viable. But there are literally thousands of current and former HP employees in Colorado, and among them we fully expect are folks with a particular dislike for their old boss. We wouldn’t be surprised to see them speaking out once they hear she’s in town campaigning for Coffman.

In the context of Coffman’s desire to present himself as a superficially re-invented candidate on a broad range of issues, bringing in Fiorina with all of her baggage is, any way you look at it, counterproductive.

Senate Republicans Set New Record for Obstruction

NARAL-GuinnessAccording to a press release from NARAL Pro-Choice America, the group has submitted an official petition nominating Senate Republicans for a Guinness World Record for “Longest Delay of a Supreme Court Nominee”:

NARAL Pro-Choice America today submitted an official petition for Sen. Chuck Grassley and his Republican Senate colleagues to be recognized as Guinness World Record-holders for the longest delay of Supreme Court confirmation process in history. The letter, which is available HERE, comes 125 days after President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland for confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This ties the previous record for the longest delay in a confirmation process, set back in 1916 during the confirmation of Justice Louis Brandeis. While Senate Republicans have claimed their record-breaking obstructionism has not been motivated by a political agenda, leaked audio from Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley confirms that their strategy has really been about limiting access to abortion all along…

…“The Colorado General Assembly can get the entire state’s work done, including a budget, in 120 days. Senator Gardner can’t even manage a meeting with Judge Garland in 125 days,” said Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “Senator Gardner and his Republican Senate colleagues are setting a record, and not in a good way. Coloradans expect better of their public servants.”

Yes, this is political stunt, but it is a pretty damn good one on a very important issue.

Coffman Votes to Restrict Abortion Access, Women’s Health Care

(Of course he did — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) joined House Republicans yesterday in approving a bill that would give federal cover to anyone who refuses to give, provide, or even facilitiate medical care.

Among other things, the bill would provide legal protection for Catholic hospitals not to peform abortions.  These and other medical services are forbidden by directives promulgated by the Catholic Church and are not offered at such hospitals.

A NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado news release stated:

The bill would give federal permission to any health-care company or individual that wants to refuse to cover or even “facilitate” medical care. It would even allow an administrative assistant to refuse to schedule you for an appointment if he disagreed with your choice to have an abortion…

Mike Coffman thinks health care providers should be allowed to refuse to provide reproductive health care to women in Colorado. That’s just wrong. Colorado needs someone who respects women, not insults them with what he says and does.

A news release from the Family Research Council, an anti-choice organization, states:

“Only one day after the Republican Party’s platform committee adopted a plank protecting conscience rights, the House of Representatives stepped in to do the same. I applaud the House for voting to codify longstanding federal conscience protections, and to give pro-life victims of government discrimination the right to sue in court. No person, organization or healthcare provider should ever be forced by the government to participate in the abhorrent act of abortion.

In Colorado, a Catholic hospital refused in March to allow a doctor to perform a tubal ligation, a sterilization procedure that runs counter to Catholic directives, after a C-section. The patient was told she’d have to go to a different hospital, and she elected not to have the tubal ligation.

Windholz implies pro-choice supporters care less about women than opponents of choice

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

Colorado State Rep. JoAnn Windholz, who called Planned Parenthood officials the “real culprits” in last year’s clinic massacre in Colorado Springs, took to Facebook yesterday to condemn the Supreme Court’s decision affirming a women’s right to choose.

“The liberal leaning US Supreme Court once again protected the made up right of abortion,” Windholz wrote on Facebook, adding that that it “isn’t enough that the child is killed, now the mother is in danger as well.”

“So who cares about women more?” she asked in the post.

In fact, the Supreme Court based its decision on the fact that the Texas abortion restrictions, which, among other things, required that abortion clinics be equipped like complete surgical units, were not medically necessary.

Windholz: Who could find fault with a law that improves health and safety standards in order to protect women inside abortion clinics? You would think that the pro-abortion side would want to have additional safety measures in place for women. That is not the case. The liberal leaning US Supreme Court once again protected the made up right of abortion in a 5-3 decision (against 2013 Texas law) to not make it a necessary for abortion doctors to have admitting privilege at a local hospital. Why – because it would mean something went seriously wrong with an abortion. It isn’t enough that the child is killed, now the mother is in danger as well. So who cares about women more?

The court found that real intent of the Texas legislature was, in fact, to unconstitutionally limit a women’s right to an abortion by requiring clinic doctors to have, for example, admitting privileges, when the health benefit of such privileges is minimal.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer  wrote in the majority opinion, “Nationwide, childbirth is 14 times more likely than abortion to result in death… but Texas law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home.”

It’s unclear what Windholz means when she wrote, “So who cares about women more?”

And Windholz did not immediately return a call seeking an explanation.

But it appears Windholz does not believe that people or even Supreme Court Justices care about women if they support a women’s right to choose.

Shortly after the shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last year, Windholz wrote on Facebook, as first reported by The Colorado Independent:

Windholz: Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”

NARAL Hits Brakes on ColoradoCare

Sen. Irene Aguilar (right) delivers petitions for Amendment 69.

Sen. Irene Aguilar (right) delivers petitions for Amendment 69.

A press release yesterday from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado announces the decision by that organization’s board of directors to formally oppose Amendment 69, the ColoradoCare single-payer health care initiative headed for the November ballot:

As the political arm of the pro-choice movement, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s mission is to protect abortion access and to oppose any and all attempts to limit it. It is our basic principle that abortion is a critical part of reproductive health care and any measure that would diminish it from overall women’s health cannot be supported.

With Colorado’s state’s constitutional ban on public funding for abortion, Amendment 69 would expand access to common healthcare services, but it would be at the expense of access to abortion care.

Article V, section 50, of the Colorado Constitution – passed by initiative in 1984 – states that “No public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions, to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion [except when necessary to prevent the death of the woman or unborn child where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each].”

This has been repeatedly held not to apply to federal funds such as Medicaid. However, because Colorado Care would be subject to Section 50 as a political subdivision of the state, Colorado Care would be prohibited from providing any abortion services to women not eligible for Medicaid except when continuing the pregnancy would endanger the life of the pregnant woman.

This means that presently insured women who have access to abortion services as part of their contracted benefits today, other than when the pregnancy would endanger the life of the mother, would lose access to abortion coverage benefits under Amendment 69.

Speaking to the Colorado Independent, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado director Karen Middleton explains further:

“I think everybody supports the goal of improved healthcare for all Coloradans. But because Amendment 69 can’t provide guarantees to affordable abortion access, it isn’t truly universal health care,” said NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s director, Karen Middleton. [Pols emphasis]

Amendment 69 has become a bit of a political hot potato for Democrats, even many who share the general goal of a single-payer health care system. Passage of such a sweeping change to health care in the state is a huge political lift in the most favorable political climate. In 2016, with the “Overton Window” skewed heavily rightward, it verges on an exercise in futility. What’s more, conservative opponents are hard at work terrorizing the public with their low-information spin on the plan, and gleefully daring Democrats to take a stand on it one way or the other–either to divorce them from moderates or the progressive base depending on what they choose.

The conflict that NARAL has identified between Amendment 69 and a state constitutional prohibition on public funding for abortion is of course very problematic in unspun terms for ColoradoCare proponents, and may be just the out needed to extricate Democrats from this dicey political predicament in a highly unpredictable election year.

Hopefully that happens in a way that acknowledges the sincere, good-faith intentions of ColoradoCare’s proponents. After all, someday down the road, the rest of the state (and for that matter, the nation) may well be ready for them.

Bernie Sanders to Supporters: Run for Office, Keep Progressive Agenda Alive

On June 16, 2016, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders  spoke to  his supporters for 25 minutes. Since I have been and am a supporter, I signed up, and took notes on the speech, the important points of which are summarized below. A video link is also included at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders speech to supporters, screenshot 6/16/16

Most of Bernie’s speech was a list of what progressive Democrats want and fought for, what we want our country to be and to do. As such, there are few surprises in the list.These are not “demands”, as we used to say in the 70s. These are the prerequisites for social and economic justice.

I didn’t expect, but was delighted by, Bernie’s call for his supporters to run for local political office: school boards, county commissioners, entry-level offices, however we can get our feet in the door. I applaud this and agree strongly. That is what it will take for real change. From the bottom up -that’s how change happens. As expected, Sanders called for the party to unify to defeat Donald Trump. He has pledged to support this effort, and will do so.

UPDATE: 6700 people responded to Bernie’s call for public service. Per Berniesanders.com, “The 6,685 supporters who expressed interest in running cover 51 percent of state house districts, 69 percent of state senate districts and every congressional district in the country.”

He called for his 1900 delegates to come in to the convention to create the most progressive platform in Democratic history, and to act on it. He called for a 50 state strategy – decrying the lack of support for Democratic candidates,  allowing right wingers to take red state governments unopposed.

He called for the Democratic National Committee to open its doors, welcome young people and working people. He called for the DNC to embrace a $15 / hour wage. He called for a party which has “the guts” to take on the pharmaceutical and fossil fuel industries. He called for stopping the  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) –  it should not come to a vote during a lame duck session of Congress, he said. These are positions which sharply differentiate his policies from those of Hillary Clinton.

What Bernie did not say was more surprising:

  • He did not “concede” defeat in the primary election, although that was implied.
  • He did not endorse Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, although he emphasized that they have much more in common than not.
  • He included very little on foreign policy – only in points 29 and 30 below did he allude to the Department of Defense and wars abroad, and only to emphasize cutting waste in the DoD, and not to spend young people’s lives in unnecessary wars. This was primarily a domestic policy speech.
  • He didn’t talk about the drug war or marijuana legalization, although he criticized the prison industry and school-to-prison pipeline in point 27.
  • He did not call for an end to superdelegates, lobbyist contributions to the DNC. He did not say what his negotiations with rules committee would be. He did not mention today’s big news that unpopular chairwomanDebbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping aside as party chair to allow Brandon Davis to take over operations.
  • He did not mention the numerous allegations of fraud and voter suppression in the Democratic primary.

 

Here’s what the man did say:
1.    The revolution continues – like every movement for social change, civil rights, etc.
2.    In every state, we won the overwhelming majority of those under 45.
3.    We are mainstream, not a fringe movement.  Numbers. 12 million votes, 22 states, Stats on contributions, 75 million phone calls, 5 million doors, 740,000 meetings, etc. Showed that we could run a national campaign without big money contributions. Bulk of contributions came from low income and working people.
4.    In every state, we took on the entire political establishment. Senators, Reps, Governors, elected officials.
5.   6:35  This campaign has never been about any single candidate .
6.    It’s about ending income inequality. It’s about ending corrupt campaign finance by corporations. Creating an economy for all of us, not just the 1%.
7.    Ending status quo: Native American reservation low life expectancy, lower than 3rd world countries. Millions of Americans dying at a younger age than their parents: suicide, drugs, alcohol, highest rate of childhood poverty of any industrialized country on earth. Ending the disgrace, undocumented people exploited on their jobs.
8.    Tens of thousands of Americans dying every year from preventable diseases, because lack health insurance, high deductibles, costly drugs.
9.    Young single mom in Nevada in tears, asking on $10/hr, How can we make it ? Millions like her.
10.    Mom in Flint, Mich. Excessive lead in water, stunted intellectual development of her child. Thousands of CA homes can’t drink tap water.
11.    Homelessness is increasing.  veterans in streets – lack of affordable housing.
12.    Corporations avoid paying a nickel in Federal taxes, stash in tax havens.
13.    6:40 Priority this year is defeating Donald Trump. Makes bigotry the cornerstone of his campaign.  Trump wants to give hundreds of B of $ in tax breaks to very rich, is a climate change denier.
14.    Major political task: Defeat Trump, badly. My role in that process will begin soon. But can’t be our only goal. Must continue grassroots  movement.
15.    Must take our energy in to the Dem convention in Philly with >1900 delegates. I met with Sec. Clinton.
16.    No secret HRC and I have strong disagreements, on important issues but agree on others.
17.    I will make sure that your voices are heard. Democrats will pass the most progressive platform in its history and that we actually fight for that agenda.
18.    I look forward to working with Sec. Clinton to form aparty that has the guts to take on the Pharma, Fossil Fuel industries, others.
19.    Dem party must support raising Fed. minimum wage to $15 / hr.  women .79 / vs men $1. Women must have right to control own bodies. Protect right to gay marriage.
20.    As Orlando has made clear, Ban sale and distribution of assault weapons, gun show loophole, and have instant background checks.
21.    Stop the TPP, must not come to the floor in a lame duck session.
22.    Expand Social security, not cut it.
23.    Greed, recklessness of Wall st must end. Pass a modern Glass Steagal. No more “too big to fail”.
24.    Aggressively combat climate change, impose a tax on carbon. Must protect our water supply by banning fracking.
25.    To compete effectively globally, Make public colleges tuition free reduce student debt.
26.    Join rest of industrialized world – Health care a right, not a privilege
27.    Stop incarcerating more people than any other country – Rein in prison industry, criminal justice reform.
28.    Comprehensive immigration reform for 11 M undocumented people.
29.    Cut waste in every department including Department of Defense.
30.    Can’t keep throwing young people into perpetual unnecessary wars.
31.    6:47 Revolution means more than Fight for our ideals, defeat D Trump. At every level continue to fight for our nation to be just. Current DNC leadership has turned its back on dozens of states, like red states, allowed right wing to run unopposed, we need a 50 state strategy. Must provide resources to ignored and poor states.
32.    Leadership, DNC must open its doors, welcome working people and young people. That is the energy we need to transform the Democratic party and our country. Cold hard fact. Since 2009, some 900 legislative seats have been lost to Republicans.  We must Start engaging at local and state level in unprecedented way.
33.    Young people deeply concerned about country and community. Start running for office! School boards, commissioners, whatever! Be prepared to engage at that level.
34.    6:50 With energy and enthusiasm our campaign has shown, we can win significant numbers of offices at down ticket level. We need new blood. You are that new blood.
35.    Government is not the enemy.(what Republicans say). I disagree. Government must protect us and our planet. But we need to attract dedicated people from all walks of life to run for office.
36.    Tens of thousands of new Dr.s, medical personnel, where people lack care.
37.    We need child care workers, teachers.
38.    We need scientists, engineers, entrepeneurs to work for renewables, efficient and cost effective as possible. Construction.
39.    Business people who respect employees and environment.
40.    Conclude: we have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America. My hope is that when historians look back and find when we began reversing the trend towards oligarchy. They see that the political revolution began in 2016. 6:53. Dark screen.

Version 1 of this diary posted at caucus99percent.com

Video available here and here

Full transcript of Sanders’ speech from Burlington Free Press

To recruit candidates, go to berniesanders.com/win

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.

(more…)

“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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.