Littwin: Cory Gardner and the GOP adopt abortion politics and a government-shutdown showdown … again

OK, it wasn’t like we weren’t warned. But here was the U.S. Senate not only voting on whether to defund Planned Parenthood, but promising that this is just the beginning of a long fight, maybe one that would last even longer than Congress’s summer recess.

As expected, Democrats successfully filibustered the bill, but the defunding exercise, in some form, will be back. And not only will it be back, but some Republicans are even threatening to attach it to this fall’s spending bills so we can – yes – face yet another shutdown showdown.

I know this must be a shock to many. In fact, on Election Day there were nearly a million people in Colorado alone — and that’s not counting The Denver Post editorial board — who maintained that it was absurd to think that abortion would be a critical piece of our national political debate. And yet, The Washington Post is calling the defunding of Planned Parenthood — a long-time stand-in in the abortion wars — “a centerpiece of the Republican agenda going into the summer congressional recess.”

Mark Udall, call your office. Oh, wait …

In case anyone has forgotten, it’s Cory Gardner’s office now. He, of course, voted for the defunding (Michael Bennet voted against), just as he used to vote for personhood before he, um, understood the ramifications.

And when Gardner was asked by The Denver Post about his vote against Planned Parenthood, he said, with full understanding of the ramifications, “This bill would redirect funding for women’s healthcare away from the scandal-plagued Planned Parenthood and towards responsible community health clinics that operate without a political agenda. Funding for women’s healthcare must actually go to fund women’s healthcare, not to line the coffers of an organization under increased scrutiny for reprehensible, inhumane behavior.”

I’d like to ask Gardner about his comments, but he doesn’t return my calls, which is just as well. I think I understand what he’s saying.

When he says the thing about “line the coffers,” I assume he is accusing Planned Parenthood of being in it for the money, just one more non-profit in another get-rich scheme. I wonder if Donald Trump is investing. I also assume Gardner’s relying on the unedited videos from the antiabortion group, Center for Medical Progress, which conducted a sting operation on Planned Parenthood, including Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. According to and others, the unedited videos, which the center released, show no profit motive. They do show heavily edited scenes meant to mislead the viewer. I wonder if Gardner has mentioned that point.

Not that Planned Parenthood is without blame. How many stings must there be before people start to catch on? And why would anyone cavalierly talk to strangers about abortion and harvesting organs, particularly to someone who might have a camera in his tie-pin?

But is Gardner’s attack on “reprehensible, inhumane behavior” referring to what Hillary Clinton called “disturbing” images from the videos or is he talking about the biomedical research that has, over many years, saved millions of lives? It’s research that many Republicans have voted for, including Mitch McConnell, which is why Erick Erickson over at Red State says not to trust McConnell. I don’t, but I don’t think it’s for the same reasons. And Clinton, by the way, later made a video strongly in support of Planned Parenthood’s work. If you trust the polls, I’m pretty sure Erickson doesn’t trust her either.

Let’s look at the notion, offered by Gardner and friends, that Planned Parenthood is not using its resources to “fund women’s healthcare.” The organization does get more than one-third of its $1.3 billion budget from the government. It also serves 2.7 million clients, most of them low-income women without insurance. It offers cancer screenings, birth control counseling and other reproductive services. The idea that you should defund Planned Parenthood — and spend the money elsewhere, as if there is enough elsewhere — while possibly putting the health of poor women at risk is, I don’t know, reprehensible? It’s probably just a coincidence that Planned Parenthood also does abortions, although federal funds cannot be used for them except in rare circumstances.

The vote also shows, of course, that these critics are not really serious about debating the use of fetal organs, or else they’d be working on changing the law instead of attacking Planned Parenthood. This is all about abortion politics and presidential politics and a pre-recess show vote.

The videos have given culture warriors on the right – who have been losing most battles on the federal front – a chance to get back in the game, the way they have on the state level. And when you’ve got four Republican senators running for president, this is what happens — a chance for them to appeal to those Republicans who aren’t voting for Trump, who was once, of course, pro-choice, not that it seems to matter.

Democrats, meanwhile, are making the case that limiting women’s access to birth control would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and, therefore, more abortions. Somehow that doesn’t seem to matter, as we saw in the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate, where they voted down money for a free-IUD program that, from all accounts, had drastically reduced teen pregnancies in the state.

I doubt if Republican leaders really want defunding Planned Parenthood to be a centerpiece of their agenda. And I’m sure they don’t want to risk a government shutdown. But if people push the issue hard enough — watch the upcoming debate for clues — they may have no choice. And if it does get that far, how do you think Cory Gardner would vote?


Photo credit: DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons, Flickr.


  1. Alright Colorado, THIS is why you should have used your BRAINS and NOT put this little MENTAL MIDGET in office. I TRIED to warn you about his sorry selling out to the highest bidder, about how he doesn’t CARE what YOU think, and STILL you put this little prick into the office. It’s just a shame that the REST of us have to suffer with the results of YOUR STUPIDITY as well.

    Just wait, things will get FAR worse for us with this SCUM in office. And you have NO ONE to blame but your own selves. You COULD have THOUGHT about what would happen with this little petulent jerk in office, but no. You decided to ether put him in, or just didn’t BOTHER to mail in your ballot. YOU LAZY MORONS!

    So you thought that Udall spent too much time on abortion? Look what you get NOW. An absolute MORON who votes for things you DON’T want because HE is SO much smarter. BULL. He’s bought and paid for and NOT by YOU!

    Damn the lazy voters of this state. It’s your inability to CARE that cost us a decent senator and gave us a SHAM.

    I will NEVER forgive this state for this BULLSHIT!

  2. For a guy who claims to have “a pretty good handle on politics” Mr. Littwin seems unable to grasp one of its most basic tenets: Elections have consequences.

    Mr. Littwin appears upset because Senator Gardner, a Republican, didn’t vote the way Mr. Littwin, a virulent anti-Republican, thought he should. You can’t make this stuff up!

    But the column seems less about Planned Parenthood and more about Senator Gardner. Mr. Littwin still appears bitter about Gardner’s victory over former-Senator Mark Udall. Does anyone really care how Udall would have voted had he won last November’s election? Besides Mr. Littwin, of course. Note to ML: Get over it!

    And as for Mr. Littwin’s suggestion that Planned Parenthood plays an essential part of “biomedical research that has, over many years, saved millions of lives” well, here’s how David Harsanyi responds. Mr. Harsanyi is a former colleague of Mr. Littwin’s at the Denver Post and one of those rare columnists whose career has been on an upward trajectory since leaving the Post. His column is nationally syndicated and he serves as senior editor at The Federalist.

    “But killing unborn babies and selling their organs saves lives, says Planned Parenthood. (You only need to peruse the history of the twentieth century to find that line of reasoning disconcerting.) If Planned Parenthood really wanted to save lives, of course, it could start by attempting to convince—or, at the very least inform—its would-be customers that they have real choices. What Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director for medical services, really tells us is that these aren’t just clumps of cells devoid of moral significance or purpose—especially when they don’t meet Dr. Deborah Nucatola’s scalpel. “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that,” she explains, “so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” She is discussing organs of a baby, evidentially, more useful to her dead than alive.”

    “How many Americans are okay with this practice? We should find out. Liberals never have a problem making expansive arguments on emotional grounds—the single woman without health care tells all we need to know about Obamacare; the lone shooter tells us all we need to know about guns laws, etc. There is simply no reason that Nucatola should not be on television ads everywhere, sipping her wine and intimately describing how abortionists squash the life out of unborn babies for money. How many Americans would accept this policy as normal?”


    “Hillary Clinton has never won a competitive election. This can’t be repeated enough. She beat Republican Rep. Rick Lazio for her Senate seat in 2000. And she defeated a mayor from Yonkers in 2006. In her first competitive race, the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, she began as a heavy favorite and she lost.” – The Week

    “Under the hashtag #100Days100Nights, users on Instagram and Twitter are issuing a stark warning: two Los Angeles gangs are betting which one can kill 100 people—in a gang, or innocent—within the next 100 days.” – Daily Beast

    “The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic!” – Camille Paglia, Salon

    “The Iran deal, then, is good enough for the president because it delays until after the end of his term any reckoning with what he himself describes as an anti-Semitic revisionist troublemaking power.” – Matthew Continetti

    “I support anyone’s right to be who they want to be. My question is: to
    what extent do I have to participate in your self-image?” – Dave Chappelle

    “A 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born gunman opened fire on a military recruiting station on Thursday, then raced to a second military site where he killed four United States Marines, prompting a federal domestic terrorism investigation. Three other people, including a Marine Corps recruiter and a police officer, were wounded, according to law enforcement officials: – New York Times

    “This new Dream, seeking revolutionary change in how America works, is not only impossible, but based on the faulty assumption that black Americans are the world’s first group who can only excel under ideal conditions. We are perhaps the first people on earth taught to consider it insulting when someone suggests we try to cope with the system as it is—even when that person is black, or even the President.” – John McWhorter, Daily Beast

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Folds of Honor
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2015

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