Coffman should be asked about exceptions in 20-week-abortion ban

(But remember, the “War on Women” is a myth! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman shrugs.

Rep. Mike Coffman shrugs.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Coffman voted for the 20-week abortion ban yesterday. Under the bill’s exceptions, a raped woman can have an abortion only “if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency.” And a child who’s a victim of incest can obtain an abortion if the “incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.” There is no exception for adult incest victims.

——-

Abortion continues to be a major focus of House Republicans, as they prepare to vote today on the latest version of their 20-week abortion ban.

The bill mandates exceptions for rape-and-incest victims, but to be allowed to have an abortion, a raped woman has to seek counseling or medical help within 48 hours of the procedure.

Coffman’s vote on the bill should be of interest to reporters. For most of his political career, Coffman took a hard-line position against any rape-or-incest exception to his anti-abortion stance. But facing a tough re-election fight, he announced his support for abortion for rape and incest.

In his vote on a similar measure in 2013, Coffman favored exceptions for rape and incest but he also voted for the requirement that rape victims report the crime to police, in order to be allowed to have an abortion. Will this year’s requirement for counseling or medical help be enough for Coffman?

If no, why? If so, what’s the explanation for his change of heart on this issue? Why does he no longer support police reporting?  Why the evolution from someone who was fiercely opposed to abortion, even for rape and incest, to someone who favors exceptions? The makeup of his new district? A personal story?

Just as House Republicans in Washington are again fighting over which exceptions should be included  in their 20-week abortion ban, the left-leaning People for the American Way has released a new report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From and What it Means for the Future of Choice,” which explains the strategic thinking of the different factions of the anti-choice movement.

The report offers a broad overview of the politics and policy of personhood, focusing on the current disputes among personhood leaders over where to take the movement going forward. And it explains why some anti-choice leaders oppose state personhood amendments, even though they share the common goal of outlawing abortion.

The report points out that personhood leaders denounce anti-choice allies, like Coffman, when they support exceptions for rape and incest, even when done in an obvious effort to make themselves or their anti-abortion legislation more palatable to the public. The report states:

“But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.”

We’ve seen this play out in Colorado, as personhood leaders have turned against Republicans like Coffman.

In any case, Colorado continues to be ground zero for the personhood movement, and the PFAW report helps put what we see in front of us in a national context.

 

Distilling the arguments against a wildly successful teen-pregnancy prevention program

(These are not misquotes – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

IUDs.

IUDs.

Much has been written about the Republicans’ tragic torpedoing of legislation that would have provided funds for a Colorado program that reduced teen pregnancy by 40 percent and teen abortions by 35 percent–or thereabouts.

But it’s worth enumerating, in short-form fashion as the legislative session ends, the various arguments Republicans used to attack the program, which involved the distribution of long-acting contraception, like intrauterine devices (IUDs), to teenagers.

Birth Control = Abortion: First, there was Colorado Republican Senate Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg saying that the arguments for the bill amounted to “poor science,” citing his inaccurate belief that IUDs work by “stopping a small child from implanting.”

The Government Shouldn’t Fund Birth Control at all. Then there was the generalized no-government argument, embodied by GOP Sen. Owen Hill, who described the the measure as a bill “we gotta kill,” explaining: “You know, there’s always a new way to start a new government program. Five million dollars for some new long-term birth control. I think that’s a personal decision people need to make. Certainly the government shouldn’t be funding that.”

The Government Already Funds Contraception. “Nobody wants less unintended pregnancy more than I do,” Sen. Larry Crowder told Nora Kaplan-Bricker, who wrote a fantastic article on the topic for the National Journal, “but am I willing to go in and ask taxpayers to fund this? I think there’s adequate funding out there.” In fact, as Kaplan-Bricker pointed out, it’s difficult if not impossible for many teens to get free IUDs and other long-acting contraception under Obamacare, and the staffing for Colorado’s successful program is not funded.

Birth Control = Promiscuity and Bad Sex.  “I hear the stories of young girls who are engaged, very prematurely, in sexual activity, and I see firsthand the devastation that happens to them,” Rep. Kathleen Conti said during a hearing on the pregnancy-prevention program, as reported by Kaplan-Bricker. “I’m not accrediting this directly to this [birth-congrol] program, but I’m saying, while we may be preventing an unwanted pregnancy, at the same time, what are the emotional consequences that could be coming up on the other side?” Conti, a Republican asked at one hearing: “Are we communicating anything in that message [of providing contraception] that says ‘you don’t have to worry, you’re covered’? Does that allow a lot of young ladies to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places, as the old song goes?”

Takeaway: The legislative fight over the teen-pregnancy prevention program spotlights the fact that most Republicans in Colorado still don’t know how to talk about birth control in a way that makes sense to normal people.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 1)

May Day! May Day! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► So, Thursday was a weird day. There was an Ultrasound Bus outside the State Capitol, lots of terribly insensitive things were said in a Senate Committee hearing over the surprise abortion bill (SB-285), and in a move nobody saw coming, Senator Tim Neville’s last-minute legislation failed to even make it out of committee. Check out the Durango Herald for a good summary of yesterday’s events.

 ► Oversight on the VA Hospital construction in Aurora was virtually nonexistent, according to a new report. Let us remind you, again, that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is the CHAIR OF THE OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Six Baltimore police officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray, which prosecutors have ruled a homicide. Gray’s death was the prime spark that kicked off riots and violence in Baltimore.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

BREAKING: Senate Abortion Bill Dies in Committee

Wow.

After all the talk about Senate Bill 285, the GOP’s surprise attempt to place new restrictions on abortion (and the Super-Friendly Ultrasound Bus), the bill failed to even make it out of committee. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

A Republican lawmaker broke party ranks and joined Democrats to reject a major abortion bill in Senate committee Thursday…

…Freshman Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, said she is concerned about the mandates on women and physicians in the bill.

“I’d like to see more work done on this, more discussion, more thought put into this,” she said. “My people have spoken to me and they don’t feel this bill is in their best interest.”

The vote came as a surprise because it is one of the only conservative bills to get voted down in the Republican-led Senate since the party took power in January. Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he was disappointed an abortion bill would fail before getting to the floor.

We’ll have more on this in the coming days, including the horribly insensitive statements and testimony from a handful of Republican Senators. This is an absolutely stunning end to a really bad idea from Senate Republicans. It is also tremendously damaging to Senate “President” Bill Cadman, who was already reeling from the obvious Republican repudiation of his leadership and now has to explain how taking such a big risk could fail so spectacularly.

We wrote yesterday that this surprise legislation “would not end well.” It couldn’t have ended any worse for Senate Republicans.

All Aboard the Super-Friendly Ultrasound Bus!

Tim Neville Bus

The Neville Nutters — State Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Partick Neville — really don’t understand why anybody would be upset with their last-minute legislation to regulate abortions. Via John Frank of the Denver Post:

Sen. Tim Neville, the bill’s sponsor, called it a common-sense bill to provide women more information about their decision and rejected the idea that it would spark rancor.

“I don’t think it has to be a divisive issue,” the Littleton Republican said. “I can’t pick what’s going to be divisive or not.”

His son, Rep. Patrick Neville, who is the House sponsor, said he began working on the bills months ago. “I think women have a right to view an ultrasound, and it’s also a safety issue, too,” the Castle Rock Republican said.

That’s right, folks. And what could be safer than getting an ultrasound on a weird bus parked across the street from the State Capitol? The flyer you see here was distributed to State Senators this morning by Tim Neville himself (who cleverly rhymed “bus” with “fuss”). We are not making this up.

Tim Neville is the Real Senate President

Things could be worse for Senate President Bill Cadman; at least he's not a hand puppet.

Things could be worse for Senate President Bill Cadman; at least he’s not a hand puppet under Tim Neville.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Senator Tim Neville may be good at manipulating fellow Republicans, but he still can’t make this logic work:

Sen. Tim Neville, the bill’s sponsor, called it a common-sense bill to provide women more information about their decision and rejected the idea that it would spark rancor.

“I don’t think it has to be a divisive issue,” the Littleton Republican said. “I can’t pick what’s going to be divisive or not.”

No, no, you can’t. You just make Bill Cadman do it.

—–

The State Capitol is abuzz over the surprise move from Senate Republicans to introduce a last-minute bill to regulate abortions out of existence — and what this unexpected move tells us about who is really running the show for the GOP. 

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in the text of Senate Bill 285; requiring women to undergo an ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period before a procedure is an approach that we have seen from anti-choice groups around the country for many years. Similar legislation was nearly passed in Virginia in 2012 until then-Gov. Bob McDonnell realized that it was obscene to suggest that women could be “forcibly penetrated” via ultrasound (for more background, check out this 2012 story in Slate magazine).

The big surprise, of course, is that SB-285 would be introduced in the State Senate just one week before the 2015 Colorado legislative session is scheduled to come to an end…and right on the heels of the GOP’s “Personhood” debacle. Even if Republicans controlled both chambers of the Colorado legislature, it would take a minimum of three working days to get a bill through the Senate and the House (we know this little fact because that’s what Republicans tried to do with their infamous “Midnight Gerrymander” back in 2003). As it stands now, there will barely be enough time for a House committee to spike the bill — should the GOP even manage to get it out of the Senate quickly — so how did this strange maneuver even surface?

First off, SB-285 could not have been introduced this late in the legislative session without the approval of Senate “President” Bill Cadman. Legislators can’t just toss out a new bill whenever they choose; if this were the case, the legislative session quite literally would never end. If you want to introduce a new bill later in the session, you must secure a “late bill exemption” from House or Senate leadership. That Cadman would grant late bill status for anything is a contradiction of his own words from the opening day of the session (Jan. 7, 2015), when he said in a floor speech “stop asking for ‘late bills'; I’m not kidding.”

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County)

Now, Cadman is no dummy (figuratively speaking, anyway). He knows good and well that SB-285 has zero chance of making it into law. He knows that this move will be used as negative advertising fodder against Republicans in 2016. And he’s also smart enough to understand how badly this undermines his title of “Senate President.” Obstensibly, Cadman is the leader of his caucus and responsible for making sure that things like this do not happen. From what we’ve heard today, there is a growing consensus that Cadman got rolled by the right-wing of his own party — and by Senator Tim Neville specifically.

Neville has emerged as the most prominent Republican of the 2015 legislative session, leading the charge on the controversial anti-vaxxer “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” among other lost causes. The Neville Nutters have been positioning themselves as something of a political “dynasty” in recent years, including Tim’s sons, Rep. Patrick Neville, and Joe Neville, a top lobbyist for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (whose Executive Director, Dudley Brown, thinks he owns the Senate); as well as sister-in-law Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board. It’s probably not a coincidence that all of the sponsors of SB-285 are also known backers of RMGO.

So what does Cadman get out of all this? By doing the bidding of the Neville Nutters, does he avoid a challenge from his own caucus in the fall so that he can remain “Senate President” in title only? Was Cadman subtly promised more business for his political consulting firm, Advantage Marketing? Or is there another political deal in the works, whereby the term-limited Cadman is backed by prominent anti-choice groups in a potential Congressional Primary against Rep. Doug Lamborn?

Of course, it is entirely possible that Cadman just “gave up” on trying to hold the line against the right-wing fringe of his party. He hasn’t been very good at keeping the trains running on time anyway, so perhaps this weakness in leadership should be expected.

Senate Bill 285 is not going to become law in 2015, but the political ramifications of this bizarre last-minute legislation will likely reverberate throughout 2016 and beyond. Consider the floodgates open.

Senate Republicans Drop Surprise WTF Bill on Abortion

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R), in a photo taken sometime before he went completely bonkers.

We wrote yesterday that Senate President Bill Cadman had completely hosed his fellow Republicans by pushing through a fetal homicide Personhood bill that will come back to haunt the GOP in 2016.

Guess who just doubled-down on teh stupid?

As John Frank of the Denver Post tweeted last night, Senate Republicans are rolling out a new abortion bill that seems about as pointless as an eraser:

Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Senate Bill 285, sponsored by The Neville Nutters, is an “informed consent/right to know” bill that would essentially get rid of abortion in Colorado by creating a laundry list of barriers and red tape for anyone considering an abortion. The legislation has a lot of similarities to a failed bill back in 2008 (SB08-095), which was sponsored by former Sen. Dave Schultheis and then-Rep. Kevin Lundberg; that Schultheis and Lundberg were involved should tell you everything you need to know about that bill.

This is a “late bill,” because it is being introduced well after the midpoint of the legislative session; in fact, we might need a new term for this, because the legislature is supposed to wrap things up one week from today. Sen. Cadman is not listed as an official sponsor, but because he is the Senate President, SB-285 could not have been introduced this late in the session without Cadman’s approval.

To recap, Senate Republicans just spent weeks prattering on about how SB-268 (the fetal homicide/Personhood bill) was about “justice” and not about abortion or Personhood or anything else. Cadman completely lost control of SB-268, to the point where Senators Ellen Roberts and Kevin Lundberg finally just admitted that this was an abortion bill. The legislation passed out of the Senate and will almost certainly come to a screeching halt in the State House, so the only thing that Cadman succeeded in doing was getting his caucus on-record about Personhood and making the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life fairly happy.

To follow up on that disaster, Cadman allowed a new abortion bill to be introduced that has no chance whatsoever of making it through the legislature; even if Cadman somehow picked up enough votes to move SB-285, there is no time left in the session to do it.

Is Cadman trying to sabotage Republicans, or has he just given up on trying to control the fringe elements of his caucus? Given what happened last week, it’s possible that Cadman just threw up his hands and said, “do whatever you want” to the extremists running around the Senate chamber. This will not end well.

Bill Cadman Leads Republicans Over the Cliff on Personhood

Senate President Bill Cadman leads Republicans off a cliff once again.

Senate President Bill Cadman should have hit the brakes earlier.

“Justice.” Senate President Bill Cadman said it again…and again…and again in discussing SB-268, the fetal homicide/Personhood legislation he crammed through the State Senate despite objections and proposed amendments from Democrats. Cadman has repeatedly said that his legislation, which was introduced in the aftermath of a brutal crime against a pregnant woman in Longmont in March, is about “justice” in allowing prosecutors to seek murder charges in the death of an unborn child.

But SB-268 is really a bill about “Personhood,” which would change the definition of a “person” to include “an unborn person at every age of gestation.” We’ve said it before in this space, and Cadman and his fellow Republicans proved Monday that SB-268 was always about Personhood, first and foremost. As John Frank of the Denver Post explains:

In the Senate debate, Democrats unsuccessfully sought to amend the bill to take out the language defining a person as an “unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.” Another amendment that failed would have gutted the measure to only increase the penalties in attacks on pregnant women under Colorado’s current law.

The critics cited concerns that Senate Bill 268 included verbatim sections from model legislation proposed by Americans United for Life, an anti- organization, and cited similar laws in other states where district attorneys prosecuted pregnant mothers for endangering the child.

As any political observer with half a brain could have forseen, Senate Democrats offered up amendments Monday that would have removed the “Personhood” language from SB-268. Cadman had Republicans entrenched by now, however, so the GOP refused to accept the amendments…and things got worse in the process.

CMurphyTweet

Former Denver Post editor Chuck Murphy was among those (via Twitter) who noticed the GOP’s problem with SB-268.

Republican Sen. Ellen Roberts actually conceded that the real point of SB-268 was to declare a fetus a person, and Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) began droning on about the importance of extending constitutional rights to the unborn. In voting down the proposed amendments, Senate Republicans are now on record in support of Personhood, which Colorado voters have flatly rejected every time it has appeared as a ballot measure. These votes will be used often in 2016 against Republicans seeking re-election, and it’s gonna sting. The advertisements write themselves: “When Republicans gained control of the State Senate, they pushed a Personhood bill that contained similar language to ballot measures that Colorado voters have opposed on three separate occasions.”

There was never any real chance that SB-268 would make it out of the State House, and Monday’s actions only ensured as much. But Cadman’s “leadership” here may very well give Democrats everything they need to re-take control of the State Senate in 2016. This bill was going to be stuck with the “Personhood” tag no matter how many times Cadman said the word “justice.”

Colorado already has the “Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act” on the books — and has since 2013 — so there was no real practical need for Cadman to rage around the State Capitol for the last month. If Cadman truly didn’t realize that he was walking his caucus into a Personhood debate, then he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.

If Cadman did realize this problem ahead of time, but pushed forward anyway…well, he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.

 

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 28)

Hey, there it is! Welcome back, Sun. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Prosecutors are scheduled to call their first witness today in the Aurora Theater Shooting trial. The Aurora Sentinel provides a handy update for Day Two.

► As the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments over same-sex marriage, experts on both sides of the argument seem to think equality is a foregone conclusion. Or…maybe not?

► So-called fetal homicide Personhood legislation limped out of the State Senate yesterday. Senate Bill 268 is unlikely to make it through the State House, especially after running into all manner of political problems in the Senate. 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

“Fetal Homicide” Bill Uses Anti-Abortion Group’s Model Language

UPDATE: Credit where due–in a report broadcast today, Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee becomes the first local reporter to correctly identify the origin of the language in Senate President Bill Cadman’s “fetal homicide” bill–a national anti-abortion group.

University of Colorado law professor Jennifer Hendricks testified that similar laws in other states have led to pregnant women being prosecuted for having miscarriages or taking drugs, in spite of similar protections.

“My concern that it will be interpreted much more broadly is not hypothetical. It is exactly how an Alabama Supreme Court interpreted a similar law,” Hendricks said.

Abortion rights supporters say a fetal homicide law could also have a chilling effect on access to abortion. The bill was modeled after legislation written by an anti-abortion group, [Pols emphasis] although the organization says it is not attempting to limit the procedure with this policy.

As we detail below, Americans United for Life most certainly is attempting to limit abortions as part of this legislative strategy–just a little over the horizon. Original post follows.

—–

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Senate Bill 15-268, the so-called “fetal homicide” bill introduced by GOP Senate President Bill Cadman last week as a “response” to the horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont women last month, passed its first hearing in the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee:

After a nearly five-hour hearing, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee backed the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote, with support from Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango.

“This bill, I don’t see it about abortion,” Roberts said. “I see it as criminal justice.”

Senate Bill 268 was introduced by Republican leaders in the waning days of the legislative session in reaction to a recent horrific event in Longmont in which a woman suffered as her 7-month-old fetus was cut from her womb by another woman. The fetus died.

The issue is mired in controversy, as pro-choice advocates say that the legislation would create so-called “personhood” in the state, which they fear would lead to arresting and charging women for murder simply for having an abortion…

“I support a woman’s right to choose, and for nine years in this building, my voting record shows that,” Roberts said. “It does not create personhood, and I’m very disappointed in those who have perpetuated that myth.”

Although the legislation contains vaguely-worded exemptions for “medical procedures” and acts “performed by the mother of her unborn child,” the fact remains that the bill grants legal rights to fetuses “at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.” That provision, say opponents, is functionally identical to the Personhood ballot measures, and sets a dangerous precedent that could be used to undermine abortion rights in the future.

And there’s another problem that was pointed out in debate over this legislation yesterday by Democratic Sen. Andy Kerr: despite insistence from Cadman and other GOP supporters that this legislation is not meant to undermine abortion rights, Senate Bill 15-268 in fact uses verbatim model language supplied by Americans United for Life–one of the nation’s foremost anti-abortion advocacy groups. Here’s the model language from AUL in its entirety. And here’s the part that matters:

aulmodel

Compared to the relevant portion of Colorado Senate Bill 15-268:

sb268

For their part, Americans United for Life proudly noted in a press release yesterday that Senate Bill 15-268 is “based on AUL model legislation.” So it’s not like they’re being secretive about this. Despite that, we have yet to see any of the extensive press this issue is receiving note that Cadman’s bill is cribbed directly from “the nation’s premier pro-life legal team.” That’s how AUL describes themselves on their About Us page:

At the state, federal and international levels, AUL works to advance life issues through the law and does so through measures that can withstand judicial obstacles so that pro-life laws will be enforced. AUL knows that reversing Roe v. Wade can be accomplished through deliberate, legal strategies that accumulate victories, build momentum, and restore a culture of life. [Pols emphasis]

But AUL’s distinction extends beyond federal measures. AUL works at the state level to craft tailored strategies and legislative tools that will assist state and local officials as they defend and protect life…

[AUL] has been unparalleled in pointing the way to protecting women now, to limiting the abortion license created by the Supreme Court, and to preparing the ground to overturn Roe. [Pols emphasis]

This legislation is, by the explicit admission of its true authors, part of a much broader strategy to chip away at Roe v. Wade. What happens when the rights this legislation confers on unborn fetuses today are interpreted tomorrow to be “unjust” since they contain exemptions? Once you legitimize these legal rights from the moment of conception, you’ve set down exactly the path AUL wants you to be on as part of their long-term objective of overturning Roe v. Wade–and curtailing or eliminating abortion rights nationwide.

Bottom line: if you’re wondering why pro-choice advocates and their Democratic allies are suspicious of ulterior motives at work here, you can stop wondering. Beneath the veneer of a “response” to last month’s horrific crime, a longstanding agenda to attack abortion rights is what this whole debate is about.

All Is Forgiven, “Dr. Chaps”

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

In the aftermath of the horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont woman last month, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt said the crime was “the curse of God upon America” for allowing abortions. Klingenschmitt, no stranger to controversy as a frequent utterer of over-the-top claims about demon-possessed liberals and so forth, was hit with some of the harshest criticism yet–and was removed from his post on the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee by his fellow Republicans. As Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso said on March 31st:

“I was very disturbed by Representative Klingenschmitt’s comments last week and want to reiterate that his comments do not represent our caucus and he does not speak for our caucus. As House Minority Leader my ability to discipline a member of our caucus is limited. Representative Klingenschmitt’s conduct warranted his removal from the committee,” House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) said in a statement.

Question: just how disturbing were these comments to Minority Leader DelGrosso, really?

Answer: about three weeks’ worth. The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader Tweets today:

Because every legislator is required to serve on at least one committee, Rep. Klingenschmitt was only removed from the Health, Insurance, and Environment Committee, and retained his post on the Local Government Committee. But the outcry over Klingenschmitt’s comments about the attack on Michelle Wilkins in Longmont was quite broad, and his removal from the HIE committee by Minority Leader DelGrosso was in response to an avalanche of phone calls and emails from the public.

We have to wonder how the public will take the news of his reinstatement only three weeks later–assuming they hear about it at all.

Inconsistency mars Post’s Personhood editorials

(Pretty much ridiculous – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Vince Carroll, Denver Post editorial board.

Vince Carroll, Denver Post editorial board.

At the heart of Thursday’s Denver Post editorial supporting State Sen. Bill Cadman’s personhood bill is the argument that Colorado needs a new law to penalize people like Dynel Lane, who faces over 100 years in prison for her horrific attack on Michelle Wilkins, who was pregnant and lost her fetus.

But just last year, The Post argued that existing Colorado law, specifically addressing crimes against pregnant women, was sufficient for cases like Wilkins’.

The 2013 Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women law balances severe penalties for crimes harming fetuses with the preservation of abortion rights and the protection of pregnant women from criminal investigation.

Here’s what The Post said last week in its editorial endorsing Cadman’s bill:

A 2013 law made it a felony to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy, but it is a Class 3 felony with a sentencing range of 10 to 32 years unless the mother dies — when it becomes a Class 2 felony. The Class 3 felony is utterly inadequate.

But when The Post opposed last year’s personhood amendment, the newspaper argued that even a “horrific incident” did not justify a new law because “the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.” Here’s what The Post wrote last year:

The horrific incident laid bare a gap in Colorado law that did not allow authorities to charge the drunken driver with anything for the loss of Brady [an eight-month-old fetus].

The Yes on 67 campaign attempts to capitalize on this circumstance, saying the amendment is needed to protect pregnant mothers from violence. Proponents conveniently ignore the fact that the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.

It’s because of this 2013 “statutory fix” that Lane faces the 100-year prison term, because the 2013 Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women law allows charges to be added on top of one another, over and above the Class 3 felony.

The severe penalties of Colorado’s 2013 law were apparently good enough for The Post last year, but now the statute is suddenly inadequate? What gives?

Clearly, both Cadman’s bill and Amendment 67 are attempts to take advantage of nightmarish incidents to pass different versions of “personhood.” Colorado’s 2013 law, considered the gold standard in balancing women’s rights with criminal justice, was a good argument against Amendment 67, as The Post understood at the time.

Newspaper editorials are supposed to be consistent and above-the-fray, so you’d expect The Post to point again to the 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women law and argue against Cadman’s personhood bill. But, alas, no, and the logic of the inconsistency escapes me.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Rain, or snow? Yes! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking a big step forward in urging the legislature to do more to deal with Colorado’s fiscal/TABOR woes. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem a bit confused at the timing of Hickenlooper’s “Fiscal Thicket” plan, given that only four weeks remain in the current legislative session.

► The U.S. Senate will hold a field hearing on the status of the VA Hospital project in Aurora next Friday. As Mark Matthews writes for the Denver Post:

A day after the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs ripped into the VA for its role in building a new Colorado hospital now expected to cost $1.73 billion — more than five times its original estimate — the Senate veterans’ affairs committee announced plans to hold a field hearing on the issue April 24 in Aurora.

Colorado Sens. and had urged their colleagues to visit the state to investigate the troubled project, which has been beset by delays, cost overruns, and legal battles.

Do we really need the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs to come to Aurora to understand that the hospital project is a complete mess?

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

You Can’t Spell “Justice” with “Personhood”

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

After weeks of internal discussions, State Senate President Bill Cadman introduced legislation yesterday that would change the definition of a “person” to include “an unborn person at every stage of gestation.” In other words, Personhood, the same general idea that Colorado voters have rejected like John Andrews reading a Log Cabin Republican application.

Cadman was interviewed this week by Denver Post reporter John Frank for a segment on “Denver Post TV,” and the Colorado Springs Republican must have said the word “justice” about 700 times in less than 5 minutes (no, seriously, watch it yourself). Unfortunately for Cadman, repeating the word “justice” doesn’t make his legislation (SB15-268) any more noble than repeating the word “Beetlejuice” will resurrect the ghost of Michael Keaton.

This is the point in the story where we could cut-and-paste the definition of “justice” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, but that’s a trite cliche that is not only unnecessary, but largely irrelevant when it comes to discussing SB-268. This legislation, titled “Concerning Offenses Against an Unborn Child,” is an attempt by Republicans to take another shot at getting “Personhood” on the books in Colorado; first, foremost, and everything else in between.

This bill, and the latest incarnation of this entire discussion, is the result of a horrific crime committed against a pregnant woman named Michelle Wilkins. But it does not right any wrongs. It does not fix any holes in the law. And it certainly won’t give Wilkins any more justice than she rightfully deserves. The alleged assailant in Longmont, Dynel Lane, is facing eight felony charges laid out by Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, as the Denver Post reported last month:

Dynel Lane, suspected of luring an expectant mother to her Longmont home last week and cutting out her unborn child, was charged Friday with eight felony counts in the attack, including first-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy…

…Lane, 34, also faces a charge of first-degree attempted murder, two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault. Prosecutors also filed two counts of a crime of violence against Lane, which are sentence enhancers…

…Garnett said the counts filed are ones they believe they can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“She could get a very long sentence and very well die in prison,” Garnett said of Lane. [Pols emphasis]

 

In 2013, the Colorado Legislature passed the “Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act,” a carefully balanced approach to increasing penalties for crimes against pregnant women while also protecting them from prosecution and essentially outlawing abortion altogether. Cadman proclaims loudly that this is not enough — that we need more laws on the books so that we can enact extra justice that won’t do anything to change the past or the future for anyone involved in the March 18 attack.

Will Dynel Lane be punished for her crimes? Is justice served if Lane spends the rest of her life in prison? Is this “justice” any more or less real because of the wording used in the criminal charges against her?

Inaction — or action — by the Colorado legislature WILL NOT SET LANE FREE. Let’s not forget this very important point. It is natural for elected officials to feel an over-inflated sense of importance during the fast-paced legislative session, and Cadman and his allies no doubt see this as a political opportunity that could help create a law (Personhood) that Coloradans do not want. This is our elected legislature we are talking about — we don’t give them judicial authority for a very good reason, and that shouldn’t change now.

So call this brazen legislative attempt whatever you want, even if you refuse to call it what it is.

Just don’t call it justice.

Reporters should call bill giving legal rights to fetuses “personhood,” not “fetal homicide”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In response to the March 18 attack on a pregnant women in Longmont, state Senate Republicans have introduced legislation expanding the definition of “person” in specific state laws, including Colorado’s murder statute, to include an “unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.”

If that sounds like personhood to you, giving legal rights to zygotes (fertilized eggs), that’s because it is a form of personhood. It establishes the fetus as a person, opening the door to possible bans on abortion and the arrest of pregnant women for crimes (e.g., child abuse) against their own fetus. And that’s what concerns Senate Democrats, who are opposing the legislation and saying Republicans are taking advantage of the horrific crime against Michelle Wilkins to pass personhood legislation.

“I am disappointed that the Republicans are choosing to use what happened to the Wilkins family to get ‘personhood’ into law,” said state Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver) in a statement after the GOP bill was introduced Tuesday afternoon.

(more…)