Analysts baffled by Colorado GOP abortion politics ‘strategery’

Analysts baffled by Colorado GOP abortion politics ‘strategery’

 
Colorado statehouse Republicans climbed aboard an anti-abortion bill this week that would outlaw abortion and emergency contraception, including in cases of rape and incest, and make performing the procedure a Class 3 felony. The bill, HB14-1133, was sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey, who introduced the same bill last year, and it drew 19 co-sponsors.

Coloradans have voted in landslides against anti-abortion ballot initiatives for years, and Democrats, who control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, are expected to quickly kill the bill in committee. It’s an election year, however, so they may draw out the bill’s death in order to keep Republicans talking about sex for as long as possible. In the state as in the nation, Republican lawmakers make headlines at regular intervals by holding forth with pinched, odd, pseudo-scientific notions about human reproduction and women’s bodies. Coloradans are still passing around a comic collage video of statehouse Republicans talking about sex last year at the capitol. Intercut moments of unwitting double entendre trade with stilted descriptions and bungling mispronunciations punctuated by telling outbursts.

As many have already noted, Republicans have gained political ground accusing the majority Democrats of last year encroaching on liberty by overreaching with ideological legislation that they say doesn’t accurately represent the feelings of Colorado residents. It’s hard to imagine a better way to undercut that narrative than to rally around Humphrey’s hard-core abortion bill. Why it was introduced this year and why so many Republicans signed on to it the moment it dropped remains a mystery.

Responses garnered by a quick survey of analysts who make a living watching Colorado politics and women’s reproductive rights underline a wider sense of bafflement.

“The thing that strikes me is it’s the same legislation, different day,” said Karren Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. Middleton says the bill misleads by grouping emergency contraceptives like Plan-B with abortion. She repeats what genuine experts have been explaining for years — that the medical community does not consider emergency contraception an abortion procedure because it is not an abortifacient. Plan B doesn’t target a fertilized egg; it prevents fertilization. In other words, if you don’t believe in abortion and you’ve had intercourse, Plan B is the way to go.

“There’s a likelihood this particular legislation has either been introduced in other states — though I don’t know that — or we have taken language from some of the same basic concepts,” Middleton said. She thinks the bill is meant to in effect backstop for the Brady Amendment, which is a “personhood” ballot initiative that would grant fertilized eggs legal rights. “I think Humphrey is attempting to replace the Brady Amendment — it’s very much identical to the Brady Amendment.”

Colorado political analyst Eric Sondermann sees the bill as a purity test.

“Some might suggest that such bills have to be put forth as a sign of fealty to the GOP’s pro-life base,” he said in an email. “But somehow I think that base knows who their friends are. And it’s a mystery as to how it serves their interests to have a bill that most centrist voters perceive as extreme and that is quickly killed. The Colorado GOP has a significant opportunity this year due to the perception of Democratic over-reach a year ago and to what could be a strong national wind at their back. But it’s an open question as to whether Colorado Republicans have the discipline and ‘strategery’ to restrain their most strident voices and capitalize on the opening.”

Humphrey was a candidate plucked from obscurity in the northern Front Range in 2012 by far-right string-puller organization Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Humphrey defeated Republican Jeffrey Hare in the primary when Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Director Dudley Brown teamed with an East Coast anti-gay group to create an ugly mail campaign painting Hare as pro-gay-rights.

“Conservative ideology holds that the government should be less intrusive, but for some reason when it comes to women’s healthcare, this ideology doesn’t extend that far,” said Cathy Alderman, of Planned Parenthood. “There’s a belief that the government does have some decision on how to manage women’s healthcare and their reproductive health. We certainly see that as a contradiction.”

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About the Author

Shelby Kinney-Lang and John Tomasic

A reporter and a reporter-editor because sometimes it just takes two.
tips@coloradoindependent.com | @COIndependent

3 Comments

  1. Sharon Diehl on said:

    I am so sick and tired of Rethugs poking their unwanted ignorant noses up my vagina and uterus. You would think these Rethugs could find something constructive to work on, like jobs or the economy.

  2. Will Morrison on said:

    Republicans have always been tone deaf, but the current batch have gone completely deaf. They ignore what the people actually want, and demand what they want instead. They completely ignore that they are supposed to REPRESENT what the people want.

    This is why the republican party will go the way of the dinosaur, most likely to be replaced by something even worse. There are a lot of mean, ignorant, authoritarian types who want nothing more than to make others suffer. And right now, they are republicans. Take that party away, they will just go out and create another, and they will be pissed about it.

    Why anyone votes for these jerks is beyond me. They offer nothing, they want to take away what little you have now, and make sure that you have no say in what else they do to you. And before you call me names over that comment, please name ANYTHING the republicans have come up with that actually benefits the people it involves. I can’t come up with anything, and I’d like to think that there is SOMETHING that I can point to and say “they aren’t ALL bad”, but there just isn’t anything. They ARE all bad.

    And you have to LOVE how they keep ranting and railing about Obamacare sticking the government in between you and your doctor (when it DOESN’T) and yet, here they are, STICKING GOVERNMENT IN BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DOCTOR. How much MORE hypocritical can one party be? They are actively doing EXACTLY what they say they don’t want!

    Again, why would ANYONE (who isn’t in the top 1%) vote for these IDIOTS? They can’t even keep their own story straight.

  3. Pingback: publichealthwatch | Colorado Bill That Would Send Doctors To Prison For Prescribing Emergency Contraception Fails To Pass Committee

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