Planned Parenthood Declines To Waste Your Time

komen-planned-parenthood4-1As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:

Planned Parenthood of Colorado told a group of conservative state legislators last week to take a hike over its planned hearing on fetal tissue trafficking.

The group, called the Republican Study Committee of Colorado, announced plans to hold a six-hour “informational hearing” Nov. 9 on the so-called practice of selling fetal tissue, and invited several people and groups to testify on the matter.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

The response from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is…well, it’s more polite than we would have been:

Planned Parenthood told the unofficial legislative committee that it was declining its invitation to appear before the panel, which is made up of 21 of the most conservative Republican representatives and senators in the Colorado Legislature.

“Their so-called hearing is nothing but a political sham to boost the profile of politicians like Sen. Tim Neville, who had the worst record in the Legislature last year on women’s reproductive rights, and Laura Woods, who has almost as extreme an agenda as Neville,” said Cathy Alderman, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

The problem is, this Republican-manufactured “committee” has no mandate or authority to investigate Planned Parenthood–let alone enforce any judgment that might result from their “investigation.” Ashby reports that the only people who have agreed to “testify” before this “hearing” are usual-suspect pro-life groups like Mike Norton’s Alliance Defending Freedom. Because both the Colorado Department of Public Health and even anti-abortion Attorney General Cynthia Coffman have refused to humor legislative Republican demands for an investigation into throughly-discredited allegations that the organization “sells baby body parts,” a kangaroo court to self-injuriously reaffirm the Republican Party’s opposition to abortion is all that’s left.

And no, our local Planned Parenthood is under absolutely no obligation to dignify that with a response.

Planned Parenthood: The Needle Mike Coffman Can’t Thread

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.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora said Saturday he supports women’s healthcare but not abortion practices that “fly in the face of human decency,” and that’s why he joined other House Republicans to vote for a budget bill Friday that defunds Planned Parenthood for one year…

“Many longtime supporters of Planned Parenthood are not only shocked by what’s been revealed, but also by Planned Parenthood’s arrogant response. Until they clean up their act, we should fund critical women’s services through the many other community health partners that operate across my district, the state and all across this country in a way that doesn’t fly in the face of human decency.”

The react from Coffman’s Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll was swift:

“It is appalling to see people playing political games with women’s lives, bodies and personal freedoms,” Carroll said in a statement Friday evening. [Pols emphasis]

Last year, as has recently drawn much attention from us and others, Coffman used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad, noting that the organization had praised a vote he cast in favor of a bill to combat violence against women. That hasn’t stopped Coffman from joining in on the GOP’s pile-on against the organization after the release of heavily-edited videos this summer attacking the organization’s fetal tissue donation practices for medical research. But in recent weeks, the campaign against Planned Parenthood by congressional Republicans has lost much momentum after a hearing to confront the organization’s director Cecile Richards backfired in spectacular fashion, with even the ambitious young chair of the committee Rep. Jason Chaffetz admitting there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

But again, and unfortunately it has to be said again and again, that’s reality. In the bubble of conservative media culture and the “grassroots” they keep in a constant state of slow-boiling panic, none of this factual stuff matters. Planned Parenthood will always be the ghoulish agency of evil where baby brains and still-kicking little disembodied limbs are kept alive in petri dishes for sale to the highest bidder, most likely some sleazy Eurotrash Bond villain type (George Soros) who wants to clone an army of fetus Frankensteins for world domination.

Have we mentioned recently that the people who believe this stuff make up Coffman’s base?

You see, folks, the reason that this keeps happening over and over again, necessitating long-winded explanations from Coffman about how he doesn’t really oppose women’s health care but has to vote like he does out of “conscience,” is simple: Coffman is trapped between the swing votes he has to hold onto in order to stay in office in a highly competitive district, and the Republican base votes he cannot afford to alienate. Just like the issue of immigration reform, as much as Coffman would like to, he will never be able to appeal to authentic moderate and left-independent voters more than his Democratic opponents–but he also can’t make too much of an effort to appeal to them without upsetting the conservative Republican base that has to be there for him in order to get re-elected.

Unlike immigration reform, an issue politically-savvy Republicans are happy to see ignored between now and the 2016 elections, Planned Parenthood is the subject du jour for the conservative wing of the Republican Party today. Holding endless show trial hearings, staging vote after vote to give safe-district Republican politicians multiple opportunities to lodge their vilification of Planned Parenthood in the permanent record, is what they want to be doing with their time.

If Mike Coffman does possess any political sense, he knows this is a huge mistake for himself politically–even if it’s not for some others in his party. But even if he does know, he’s powerless to change course.

Latest Planned Parenthood Witch Hunt Fizzles

komen-planned-parenthood4-1Huffington Post reports–remember that crazy hearing in Congress a little over a week ago that featured a bunch of Republicans practically leaping over the rail to attack Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood? A hearing so ugly to watch than even Glenn Beck wingnut and ex-Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi was unable to defend it?

The Republicans in charge of that hearing hope you forget it:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that the GOP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds hasn’t turned up anything.

“Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes. Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any,” he said during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the family planning provider.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing last week. He questioned her salary, asked about the organization’s expenses and revenues, and pressed Richards on why the group had revenue of $127 million last year if it’s a nonprofit. (Nonprofits put their revenues back into their programs.)

But after all that, he concluded that Planned Parenthood isn’t doing anything sketchy with its money. “Did we find any wrongdoing? The answer was no,” Chaffetz said. [Pols emphasis]

After the spectacle of this much-hyped hearing, in which an unflappable Richards was personally lambasted over a range of allegations against Planned Parenthood both related and separate from heavily-edited videos released over the summer, Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s anticlimactic admission that there’s no “there” there in any of this latest trolling of Planned Parenthood makes us wonder what the plan ever was. Numerous local investigations of Planned Parenthood in the wake of those videos have turned up no violations of the law. Here in Colorado, our GOP attorney general has declined to go after Planned Parenthood despite considerable pressure from legislative Republicans.

In our experience, the Republican Party’s recurring war on legalized abortion, which is sometimes identified as part of a larger “war on women” by Democrats, is much more of an off-year pursuit than something seen during election years. Supporters of so-called “Personhood” abortion bans keep trying regardless of the season, of course, but by and large Republicans tend to put abortion on the back burner during contested elections–even to the point of shamelessly flip-flopping, or dissing their erstwhile allies who aren’t smart enough to know when this issue is useful politically to the GOP and when it needs to be squelched. After all, who wants to be the next Todd Akin?

Well, folks, it’s mid-October in an off year! So it’s just about time for abortion to go back on the proverbial shelf. There’s always the chance that this time, our media and pundit class will figure the game out and not get played like a fiddle in 2016 like Cory Gardner did to them in 2014. We hope so, but based on experience, we can’t count on it.

Even David Harsanyi Can’t Defend It

David Harsanyi.

David Harsanyi.

David Harsanyi was a conservative columnist for the Denver Post for many years. Up until his departure from the Post to take a job with Glenn Beck’s budding media empire in 2011, we had a few occasions of fun times calling out Harsanyi for making silly factual errors and living a life of walking, talking hypocrisy. And of course, once he went to work for Glenn Beck, we pretty much stopped whatever residual taking seriously of him we had ever engaged in.

But we will take note of Harsanyi’s column in The Federalist yesterday, in which he almost rips apart the House GOP’s embarrassing show trial of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards this week. It begins promisingly enough:

If for some reason you needed additional evidence that the Republican Party was deeply incompetent, unprepared, uncoordinated, inexcusably lazy, then try watching Cecile Richards’ appearance in front of congress yesterday.

Zing! But this is David Harsanyi, so don’t let that initial red-on-red snarkiness fool you:

Now, I get that these kinds of hearings are normally a waste of time, but in this instance the GOP had some good reasons to project competence. This is, after all, the issue that’s generated so much tension within their party of late. An effective showing—something resembling a smart prosecution—might have allayed a bit of the percolating discontent. Yet there they were, facing a CEO whose organization performs vivisections on humans and harvests baby brains, and the best they could do most of the time was throw her softballs or ensure her martyrdom…

It’s worth pointing out that, unlike most of the GOP members of the committee, Richards actually earns her salary. She exhibits impressive composure and rhetorical discipline, never wandering off her chosen focus for too long, and basically does everything someone like Jim Jordan does not. The Ohio rep looked like he was about to hop over the podium grab her by the arms and demand answers. The optics were horrible, and the trivial gotcha that made him act like a transmuting Bruce Banner—whether Richards had actually apologized for the video tapes or not— was also irrelevant.

He could have tricked Richards into acknowledging she had lied when she said that Planned Parenthood “never claimed” to offer mammograms? That would have taken preparation and research rather than yelling. Republicans never, setting aside all the hysterical parsing of the media, got Richards to admit that Carly Fiorina’s comments regarding human fetuses being delivered intact and alive during abortions was irrefutable.

To be clear, this “criticism” is loaded up with pseudo-extenuating hooey. Planned Parenthood conducts breast exams and files the necessary referrals for mammograms–which means that cutting off their funds could certainly cut off access to that procedure if even they’re not done in Planned Parenthood’s offices. And while David Harsanyi may have an interest in running cover for Carly Fiorina’s blatant falsehoods regarding the content of doctored undercover videos attacking Planned Parenthood, basically nobody else does.

Overall, though, reading Harsanyi’s column on Tuesday’s disastrous hearing evoked sympathy from us. It must indeed be frustrating to watch your partisan allies make such profound fools of themselves on national television, then be required to opine about it in a way that preserves at least some of their collective dignity.

We couldn’t do it.

Neville Rallies GOP Base Against Planned Parenthood

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

A strongly-worded letter sent to Colorado GOP Reps. Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, and Mike Coffman today urges them to resist any attempt to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood–implicitly giving them cover to shut down the government in order to force the Obama administration to the bargaining table. Excerpts:

As members of the governed, we are asking you to put politics aside and focus on the unalienable right to Life. Today, 3000 unborn babies will die due to the butchering effects of abortion. At conception, they are American citizens that require their life to be protected by our government. We ask that you focus on those children and remind yourself of the evil you have witnessed in the ten undercover videos to date.

Therefore, we write to you with great urgency concerning the upcoming Continuing Resolution which includes continued funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. As you may be aware, Planned Parenthood performed 327,000 abortions in the last year and has been the subject of many unspeakable undercover videos displaying the sale of fetal body parts for profit. Last year alone, Planned Parenthood received $528 million in taxpayer dollars.

As constituents and leaders in the conservative movement and Republican Party in the state of Colorado, we urge you to stand up for the rights of the preborn, to stand up to our pro-abortion president, and to sign the Mulvaney letter, committing to fully defund Planned Parenthood and oppose any continuing resolution that does not.

Congress must act now with the full power of the purse, draw a line in the sand, and let the Democrats in Congress and President Obama explain to the American people why our tax dollars go to support an organization that will commit more than 70,000 abortions between now and December 11 and deals in trafficking fetal body parts. We cannot, as conservatives and Republicans, allow the President to force our hands and accept continued government funding of abortions in the name of ‘getting something done’ or ‘woman’s health care’.

The letter is signed first and foremost by U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville and his son Colorado Rep. Patrick Neville. From there, it’s a who’s-who of Colorado Republican Party county chairs, local talk-radio hosts, and grassroots activists.

Because recent events have significantly reduced the threat of a shutdown, with a vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government until December coming later today, this letter underscores Neville’s position as a grassroots leader whose positions naturally align with that of the GOP rank-and-file. John Boehner’s decision to fall on his sword has only delayed the confrontation over Planned Parenthood’s funding until December, after all–and between now and then, Neville can use language like what you read above to whip the Republican base into a heady froth. By December’s vote on the next continuing resolution, Neville will be in a prime position to either triangulate off backsliding Republicans, or take credit for their actions if the government shuts down.

Either way, Neville is rocking the cradle that rules the world. And the 2016 GOP Senate primary.

PPP: Planned Parenthood Crusade Political Suicide In Colorado

komen-planned-parenthood4-1A new survey from Public Policy Polling on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Colorado voters says that the Republican Party’s war against Planned Parenthood underway at the state and federal levels is a big, big mistake:

A new Public Policy Polling survey of Colorado voters find that voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood and oppose shutting down the government over the issue. Voters would be less likely to vote to re-elect Representatives who supported shutting down the government to block Planned Parenthood funding.

Key findings from the survey include:

-55% of voters say they would view shutting down the government to block Planned Parenthood funding unfavorably. Democratic voters overwhelmingly oppose the idea- 72% of them oppose it, compared to only 23% who say support the idea. And it has opposition from critical independent voters- 55% are in opposed to 38% in favor. Overall 52% of voters oppose defunding Planned Parenthood whether or not a government shutdown is in play. [Pols emphasis]

-Voters would be less likely to vote to re-elect Representatives who voted to shut down the government to try and defund Planned Parenthood. 48% of voters say they’d be less likely to vote to re-elect those who stage a government shutdown, including 66% of Democratic voters and 52% of Independents. Just 35% of voters say they’d be more likely.

-Majorities of voters agree that attempting a government shutdown would reflect badly on the Republican Party. At least 50% of voters agree with each of the following statements: Shutting down the government to block any funding for Planned Parenthood would show that the Republicans in Congress put partisan politics ahead of what’s best for the country, that Republicans in Congress would go too far in catering to the extreme anti-abortion elements in their party, that Republicans in Congress are out of touch with the needs and concerns of women today, and that Republicans in Congress are too extreme in their policies and tactics.

Here’s the poll memo from PPP. It’s an obligatory caveat to note that PPP is generally considered a Democratic-aligned polling outfit, but they’ve received much praise over the years for accurately polling our state–including nailing last year’s U.S. Senate race as a two-point win for Cory Gardner in late September.

Given our state’s experience in the last government shutdown, which came just following devastating floods that impacted the Front Range and cost Colorado tourism towns millions after national parks and monuments closed, it’s no surprise to see local voters taking a dim view of another potential shutdown. But in addition to that, this poll shows truly resilient support for Planned Parenthood in our state–despite the release of numerous doctored undercover videos attacking the organization’s fetal tissue donation practices. Even after some of the videos depicted local Planned Parenthood employees with unflattering selective edits to their comments, a majority of Coloradans still oppose any attempt to cut off the organization’s funding.

That’s good news for all of you wondering if the onslaught of misleading videos was really moving public opinion–they’re not, at least not here–and bad news for Republicans who invested precious political capital in the hope that these videos would change the game on reproductive choice.

They didn’t. And Republicans are making the same old mistake once again.

Orange Era Ends: Boehner To Resign

UPDATE #4: Rep. Mike Coffman sounds much more conciliatory today with John Boehner than when he complained earlier this year about House leadership foot-dragging on funding for the Aurora VA hospital:

“Speaker John Boehner was under constant attack from conservatives who thought he did not do enough and from liberals who thought he did too much,” Coffman said.

Which one was Coffman, you ask? He’d rather not say.

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UPDATE #3: Hard-right GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs says “don’t let the door hit you where the Good Lord split you” to John Boehner:

“Although we did not always agree on tactics and methods, I appreciate that Speaker Boehner did his best to serve the American people,” Lamborn said. “I wish him well in the future and look forward to assessing the candidates who will step forward as the next nominees for speaker.”

—–

UPDATE #2: We are working to confirm a report that now-outgoing Speaker John Boehner will appear at a fundraiser with Rep. Mike Coffman next Tuesday:

House Speaker John Boehner will campaign in Denver Tuesday for U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora.

This was reported prior to Boehner’s announcement today that he will resign, so we have no way of knowing if this event will still happen. But Coffman’s difficulty juggling clear obligations to his district, from immigration reform to trying to get the wildly overbudget VA medical center in Aurora completed, with the often opposed interests of Boehner and GOP House leadership, has arguably been his greatest liability as he tries to hold on to one of the nation’s most competitive House seats.

And a visit from Boehner next Tuesday could throw that conflict into very harsh relief indeed.

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UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado effusive in his praise for John Boehner:

“John Boehner is a devoted family man, an exceptionally talented public servant, and one of the proudest Americans I know. One of twelve children, he went from sweeping the floors at his father’s Cincinnati bar to walking the halls of the Capitol as the highest ranking official in Congress.”

“He has lived the American dream, and been an inspiration to many, including myself,” Gardner wrote. “From my time in the House to the current day, I am proud to consider John Boehner a friend and ally. I will miss his steady leadership — our country is better off for his service.”

We’re watching to see who else in our delegation agrees.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R).

House Speaker John Boehner (R).

Stunning news out of Washington, D.C. this morning, The Hill reporting:

Speaker John Boehner told GOP lawmakers on Friday he will resign at the end of October.

The embattled Ohio Republican will resign from both his Speakership and his House seat, he told GOP lawmakers at a closed-door conference meeting…

“He is proud of what this majority has accomplished, and his Speakership, but for the good of the Republican Conference and the institution, he will resign the Speakership and his seat in Congress, effective October 30.”

Boehner’s decision comes as Congress struggles to find a way to fund the government.

Most sources report that Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California is the likely successor. With the dust still settling from this huge Friday announcement, we have yet to see reaction from our local Republican members, or any firm reports about what this means for the unresolved battle over funding the federal government past the looming October 1st shutdown deadline. Did John Boehner just defuse a metaphorical time bomb, or get himself out of the way of an impending train wreck? We’ll know soon.

Watch this space for updates on both of those angles as they come in.

Gardner Abortion Votes Slaughter Denver Post’s Credibility

Senator Cory Gardner.

Senator Cory Gardner.

CBS News reports on the latest attempt in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate to ban abortions after 20 weeks, a number considered arbitrary by experts and an incremental step toward outlawing all abortions by pro-choice advocates:

Senate Democrats thwarted a Republican effort to ban late-term abortions on Tuesday as GOP leaders strained to avoid a government shutdown in eight days over the dispute – all against a tangled backdrop of presidential politics…

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked a GOP measure to prohibit most late-term abortions. The Senate voted 54-42 to move ahead on the legislation, but that fell six votes short of the 60 needed to crack a filibuster mostly led by Democrats.

Tuesday’s vote was the second time since this summer’s release of videos involving Planned Parenthood that Senate Democrats have derailed an abortion-related drive by the GOP. It was held less than 48 hours before a first-ever papal address to Congress by Pope Francis, who leads a Roman Catholic Church that rejects abortion…

“We should stand for our principles, and our principles should not be surrendering to the Democrats,” another presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said Tuesday.

gardnernothreat

Republican Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk joined with Democrats in voting to block the 20-week abortion ban bill, a similar version of which had already passed the Republican-controlled Congress. The vote on the 20-week abortion ban is just one of several attacks on reproductive rights moving forward in the wake of the heavily edited undercover videos released over the summer attacking Planned Parenthood over fetal tissue donations for medical research.

Reading today’s Denver Post, you might get the impression that no Colorado Senators took part in yesterday’s vote at all. The Post ran an AP wire story that made no mention of how Colorado’s two Senators voted on the 20-week abortion ban. But for the record, Sen. Michael Bennet (D) voted no, and Sen. Cory Gardner (R) voted yes.

We know some of our readers will be less than happy about us once again calling out Colorado’s newspaper of record, The Denver Post, for their endorsement last October of now-Sen. Cory Gardner for election over Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. But as everyone who lived and voted in Colorado last year is aware, abortion played an outsize role in last year’s U.S. Senate election in Colorado. Within weeks of entering the U.S. Senate race, Cory Gardner publicly renounced his support for the so-called “Personhood” abortion ban ballot measures that Coloradans have rejected at the polls over and over in recent years. Democrats seized on Gardner’s flip-flop on “Personhood” to paint Gardner as untrustworthy, highlighting his continued sponsorship of an equivalent “Life at Conception Act” that contained the same language as the “Personhood” abortion bans.

With only a few exceptions, the remainder of the Senate race in 2014 became a farcical exercise in which Udall, and belatedly some members of the local press, did everything they could think of to force Gardner to acknowledge the clear conflict between his abandonment of “Personhood” and his continued support for functionally equivalent abortion bans in Congress. Gardner’s response to this onslaught was to unflappably deny and deflect, while surrogates loudly complained about the “single social issue” attack on Gardner from Udall’s campaign.

Vince Carroll of the Denver Post editorial board.

Vince Carroll of the Denver Post editorial board.

Gardner’s two-pronged response of denial and affected exasperation by surrogates and friendly pundits received its biggest boost by far from the Post’s endorsement of Gardner, which dissed Udall’s “tedious” abortion attacks in the harshest possible terms, and asserted bluntly for the record that “Gardner’s election would pose no threat to abortion rights.” The endorsement thrilled Republican backers of Gardner but shocked and dismayed Democrats, who viewed it as a devastating and fundamentally dishonest blow to their central campaign theme. And again: it wasn’t the theme that Democrats chose, Gardner chose it himself by flip-flopping on “Personhood” in a fake attempt to moderate on the issue.

It’s necessary to understand all of this in order to realize why the Colorado pundit class’ defense of Gardner last year, which culminated in the Denver Post’s dishonest endorsement, has proven so persistently galling to women and reproductive choice advocates. We haven’t seen it officially confirmed and probably never will, but there is evidence to suggest that the endorsement of Gardner has seriously damaged the Post’s credibility with readers in the long term–as well as its bottom line following a rash of subscription cancellations that reportedly occurred after that endorsement. The Post has been in a financially declining position for years, like so many newspapers around the country. But the Gardner endorsement was an unforgivable breach of faith, relying on a demonstrable falsehood that is playing out in national news less than a year later.

At the very least, an acknowledgement of what Gardner is actually doing as a Senator would be a start. But by negating the issue on the campaign trail and now ignoring Gardner’s actions that prove them wrong, the Denver Post is utterly failing in its duty to inform the voting public–from the newsroom to the editorial board.

CU tops CSU when it comes to responding to pressure from GOP Congressman

(Credit where due – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

CSU President Tony Frank.

CSU President Tony Frank.

Reporters should take note of the different responses, one by Colorado State University and the other by two University of Colorado campuses, to Rep. Doug Lamborn’s pressure to halt the acquisition of fetal tissue by two companies–as well as to the GOP Congressman’s demand that all NIH-funded research using fetal tissue be stopped.

Back in July, under pressure from Lamborn, Colorado State University President Tony Frank embarrassed his institution by suspending the purchase of fetal-tissue from two suppliers until vague “congressional investigations are concluded.” Never mind that such investigations rarely have anything to do with guilt or innocence–and everything to do with politics. And no evidence of wrongdoing had been produced.

In Aug., Lamborn turned his attention to the University of Colorado at Denver, demanding information on whether it also uses two fetal-tissue suppliers, StemExpress and Advanced Bioscience Resources, both of which are under attack by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress for obtaining tissue from Planned Parenthood.

In response, the University of Colorado Medical School and the University of Colorado at Denver, in a joint response, stated that they did not obtain fetal tissue from those the two companies.

And if they did, they wouldn’t stop without evidence of wrongdoing. As Richard Traystman, the University of Colorado Medical School’s Director of Research, told me, for an RH Reality Check Post:

“At this moment we’re not [using those companies], but we will if we need to. We do have other sources, as I’ve said, but those are the two major companies that many investigators order from.”

Both CSU and the CU campuses told Lamborn they would not halt NIH funded fetal research. As Traystman put it:

“It’s not acceptable to stop research using cells from fetal tissues. In my letter, I gave examples of where these sorts of fetal cells are used in research on certain diseases. They are very often used in research on diseases of the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, a variety of diseases that involve brain abnormalities and diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, for example. They are also used in research on the heart and cardiac tissue and to create vaccines. I could go on.”

Coffman Planned Parenthood Needle Threading Goes Badly

UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark with an astute observation:

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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.

9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman follows up on Friday’s big story, the vote by the GOP-controlled U.S. House to defund Planned Parenthood–a vote that included Colorado’s Rep. Mike Coffman voting in favor despite the fact that he used the organization’s logo in a campaign ad last year:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colorado,) who voted last week in favor of a bill to de-fund Planned Parenthood, is defending his use of a Planned Parenthood logo in an ad for his 2014 re-election campaign.

“Coffman was praised for protecting women from violence,”the ad’s narrator said, while a logo for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund appeared on screen beneath the congressman’s face.

The ad sought to take credit for Coffman’s support of the Violence Against Women Act.

Democrats argue that the goal of using the logo was to appeal to voters who support Planned Parenthood and see Coffman’s vote to defund the organization as hypocritical…

There’s no nice way to say it, but the response to this very straightforward question from Coffman spokesperson Cinamon Watson may well go down as one of the more preposterous political comebacks of contemporary American politics.

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” said Coffman’s spokeswoman Cinamon Watson in an email to 9NEWS. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? Mike Coffman uses praise for himself from “bad” organizations in campaign ads–because, well, he doesn’t have to explain! We assume this to mean if Westboro Baptist Church or Iranian President Hassan Rouhani were to say something nice about Coffman, we’d see that in a future ad too. Right? After all, Coffman doesn’t need to support you back in order to use your support in a campaign ad. Or something.

Back in reality, we all know that’s nonsense, and we know exactly what Coffman was hoping to get out of invoking Planned Parenthood in a positive light in a campaign ad. Even giving Coffman the benefit of the doubt that the recent heavily edited undercover videos attacking the organization “changed his mind” doesn’t wash, because everyone familiar with his record knows Coffman has always been a stridently anti-abortion politician. Coffman’s vote Friday to defund Planned Parenthood only makes an ad where he used their logo in a positive light look more deceptive–yet another case of Coffman’s words failing to square with his long record of deeds.

To be honest, the best thing to do in this situation is probably not to comment at all. Because this didn’t help.

Republicans Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood; Budget Deal at Risk

UPDATE: Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado slams Coffman with the Planned Parenthood logo he used in an ad last year:

“Just a year ago, Mike Coffman was so desperate to run away his right-wing image that he misleadingly used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Today, Coffman proved that his claims that he stands with women and their families were nothing more than a smokescreen to protect his political career.”

“The far right’s latest assault on women’s reproductive rights following the release of heavily-edited, consistently debunked videos is just the latest attempt by anti-abortion extremists to ban reproductive choice with no exceptions for the life of the mother, or cases of rape or incest,” said Runyon-Harms. “For too long, Mike Coffman has tried to play both sides of this issue in order to please his right-wing donors while scrambling to keep his competitive congressional seat. With today’s vote, Coffman proves to everyone that he doesn’t stand with women at all. He stands in the way.”

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Ugh

Ugh

Congressional Republicans have voted in favor of stripping federal funding from Planned Parenthood, with Colorado’s delegation splitting their vote equally across party lines.

The House vote was not entirely unexpected, though it remains unclear how today’s vote will ultimately affect the federal budget. But first, the Washington Post reports on two anti-choice votes:

One bill passed Friday, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, would impose criminal penalties on medical personnel who fail to aid an infant born after an attempted abortion. The other, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, imposes a one-year moratorium on federal funding for the group, which Republicans say will allow for a thorough investigation of its practices. Any funding, supporters said, would be redirected to clinics that do not offer abortions…

…Democrats pointed out that Planned Parenthood has long been prohibited from spending federal money on abortions, thanks to appropriations riders dating back to the 1970s. And in a floor debate Friday, they called the bill an attack on women’s health care and noted that other health-care providers would be unable to absorb all of Planned Parenthood’s hundreds of thousands of patients.

“This bill is dumb, it’s foolish, and it’s mean-spirited,” said Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). “The bill is based upon lies and exaggerations. If you want to have a truthful debate, then let’s talk about the 400,000 Pap smears, the 500,000 breast exams, the 4.5 million STD and HIV tests that Planned Parenthood does each year.”

We’re all in favor of a “truthful debate,” though we’d rather not discuss Pap smears at length in this space. Instead, we’ll direct you to Politico and the ramifications of the larger federal budget deal:

Republican leaders who are eyeing a rarely-deployed, fast-track budget procedure as a way to defund Planned Parenthood and stave off a government shutdown appear to be in for a rude awakening.

The idea is aimed at placating conservatives by giving them a way to pass legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of its funding and decouple the issue from the entire federal budget. But conservatives are balking at the proposal to use the majority-vote reconciliation process, calling it a “ruse” that, in the end, would leave Planned Parenthood’s federal funding intact and amount to little more than a feel-good exercise.

In a nutshell, this has turned into one hell of a political clusterfuck for the Republican Party. Vulnerable incumbents such as Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) are now on record seeking to defund Planned Parenthood entirely, and it looks like none of this will avert the second federal shutdown in three years.

Solid work, Boehner.

Call For Mike Coffman To Fight For Planned Parenthood, Against Shutdown

As Republicans in Congress prepared to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood this week, setting up a confrontation that could result in a shutdown of the federal government, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Rep. Mike Coffman to fight against any attempt to either defund Planned Parenthood or endanger continued construction of the VA medical center in Aurora.

“Last year, Mike Coffman used Planned Parenthood’s logo in his own campaign ads to falsely imply they supported him,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “But when anti-abortion activists started circulating misleading, doctored videos attacking Planned Parenthood this year, Coffman went on talk radio to pile on the baseless criticism. Now, Coffman’s colleagues are threatening to shut down the government to attack Planned Parenthood’s funding, which could once again endanger the VA Aurora hospital construction project. How many times will Coffman’s Republican colleagues in Congress threaten to punish our veterans to score political points before he says enough?”

“Mike Coffman has tried to have it both ways for years, but he finally has to take a stand now to avoid political catastrophe,” said Runyon-Harms. “It’s time for Rep. Coffman to denounce any attempt by his colleagues to defund Planned Parenthood, and to make clear that any legislation that would threaten completion of the Aurora VA medical center is a nonstarter. The voters in Coffman’s district deserve better than empty posturing and excuses.”

How will the Planned Parenthood attacks play in next year’s election?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

komen-planned-parenthood4-1For an RH Reality Check post yesterday, I interviewed some familiar pundits for their take on the question of whether continued attacks on Planned Parenthood, including the recent demand by 30 GOP state lawmakers for an investigation of the women’s health organization, will affect candidates in next year’s election in Colorado.

They offered a range of opinion on the topic, but I think it’s fair to say that, outside of pleasing hard-core Republican voters, the Planned Parenthood attacks were deemed neutral at best and damaging at worst to the GOP’s electoral efforts next year in Colorado. For example:

“Given what we know at this point, it seems to me that Planned Parenthood is the wrong organization for Republicans to go after, because it has a great deal of good will,” said Norman Provizer, Professor of Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Overall, from a political perspective, I think it’s an act of desperation to find a battle you think you might win after a long string of losses on the social issues front. But it’s the wrong organization to go after.”

“It is going to highlight the women’s issue again, which could be damaging to Republicans” continued Provizer.

The others I interviewed (Jennifer E. Duffy, Senior Editor at the Cook Political Report; Prof. Robert Loevy of Colorado College; Political analyst Floyd Ciruli) had somewhat different opinions, which you can read here, but most saw the attacks as dicey, from a political perspective, for Republicans who want to reach beyond the base voters.

A related question, which Duffy addresses briefly in my piece, is, what will Democrats do in response to the Planned Parenthood controversy going forward? Michael Bennet has voted against stripping federal funds from the organization, and you’ve seen some Dems defending the group.

But will we see more proactive responses from Dems as we approach the election, assuming no evidence of actual factual wrongdoing emerges? As yet, no such evidence has been produced.

Everyone knows how important women voters are in Colorado and how determined the anti-choice activists are to push their agenda forward. That combination will likely keep the Planned Parenthood controversy in play through next year.

Health Department To Colorado Republicans: You’ve Got Nothing

Rep. Dan Nordberg (R).

Rep. Dan Nordberg (R).

Last week, following the announcement by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman that there would be no investigation into the fetal tissue donation practices of Planned Parenthood in Colorado–a formerly uncontroversial practice, recently scandalized by an hidden camera sting campaign against the organization–some 30 Republican Colorado legislators headed up by Rep. Dan Nordberg of Colorado Springs responded with a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment demanding they investigate anyway.

Yesterday, they got their response from CDPHE:

Dear Representative Nordberg:

As requested by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Executive Director Dr. Larry Wolk, this letter responds to your August 26, 2015 request for an investigation of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for alleged violations of Section 25-2-111.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Upon review of your letter, we note that your request is based solely on a reference to a brief and edited video distributed by the Center for Medical Progress. [Pols emphasis] We appreciate your concerns and are committed to upholding the laws we are charged with enforcing. At this time, CDPHE has received insufficient information to commence an investigation. Should full, unedited, and raw footage, or other material evidence, be provided to CDPHE, the Department will consider such information and determine whether further action is warranted.

Numerous states have already conducted their own “investigations” of Planned Parenthood in the wake of the so-called Center for Medical Progress’ releases of heavily edited videos they claim provide evidence that Planned Parenthood “sells” fetal tissue for medical research. Although selling such tissue for profit is illegal, both federal and Colorado state laws specifically allow for costs of handling and transportation to doctors and health care organizations to be reimbursed. Every single one of the videos released so far have either been edited into investigatory uselessness–or, when released unedited, feature Planned Parenthood employees clearly and repeatedly affirming these tissue donations follow the law.

As a result, the states that have finished their “investigations,” even red states like Indiana and Georgia, have found no violations of the law. That’s not a hinderance for other red states like Arkansas, though, who aren’t even bothering with an inquiry before simply electing to cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding. Which is, of course, something that state’s Republican governor would be happy to do under basically any pretext.

The truth is, Colorado’s reality-based refusal to join the Planned Parenthood bashing party is exactly what’s frustrating Rep. Dan Nordberg and the dozens of Colorado Republican lawmakers who signed his letter asking CDPHE to reconsider. Their request isn’t about the facts, it’s about capitalizing on the emotional reaction to these overhyped, deceitfully edited videos. Indeed, the objective is for the emotional reaction to trump the facts.

And no, it’s not a responsible way to govern. But this isn’t about that either.

Gazette rejects reasonable response to its inaccurate editorial trashing Planned Parenthood

(Citizen Kane would be proud – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Michael Merrifield.

Sen. Michael Merrifield.

In an op-ed in the Colorado Springs Independent yesterday, Colorado State Sen. Michael Merrifield writes:

On Sunday, Aug. 9, the Colorado Springs Gazette published an editorial that contained many of the same falsehoods about Planned Parenthood that are being spread by the extremists who made the hoax video.

I submitted a column to correct the record about the work Planned Parenthood does for Coloradans and nationally. The Gazette refused to run it — a disservice to its readers and the community I represent. I’m glad the Colorado Springs Independent has higher standards for public discussion.

It’s true that the Gazette’s editorial was full of misinformation at best, lies at worst. The Gazette didn’t even come close to informing us that no evidence exists showing that Planned Parenthood has broken any laws.

Instead, the newspaper quotes directly from undercover videos that are so altered that they have no use as evidence against Planned Parenthood.

The newspaper musters up the audacity to state Planned Parenthood has an “apparent practice of selling the organs of aborted babies.” Even if you accept what you see in the full videos, there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood does anything other than offer fetal-tissue for research purposes for the cost of processing. That’s legal.

Next, the Gazette claims there’s an “overwhelming and growing body of evidence” that “abortion providers solicit the sale of human organs.” There is no such body of evidence much less a growing one. There’s no proof that the tissue is provided by donors on anything but a voluntary basis.

(more…)