In a September 18 guest commentary piece in The Colorado Statesman, Republican Rep. Mike Coffman explained his June decision to be the lone Republican co-sponsor of the House Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, writing “Women’s rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue.”
Yet, in the article, Coffman didn’t mention his party-line vote on the very same day his piece was published to defund Planned Parenthood – an organization whose logo he has used in campaign videos.
“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” Coffman’s spokesperson Cinamon Watson told 9News.
In Coffman’s article, he didn’t mention that in addition to sponsoring the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act he is simultaneously signed on to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act Amendment, which is a Republican bill that would tweak the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Democrats are calling the two new bills “conflicting,” arguing the Republican amendment would actually undermine the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Some of the changes to the 1978 act proposed in the amendment would make it easier for women to receive accommodations. But others would actually undermine the original bill, said Emily Martin of the nonpartisan National Women’s Law Center.
Martin speculates that Coffman’s decision to sign onto both bills may reflect his concern that pregnant workers get accommodations – no matter which party’s strategy is adopted.
Coffman’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on why he is the lone member of the House to sign on to both bills.
Throughout Coffman’s career as a lawmaker, he has been slammed by liberals for his stance on abortion. His office has been the target of protests against his policy stances, which his critics say hurt women.
Coffman has defended his voting record and argued that as a lawmaker he has championed women’s rights and fought discrimination.
In his letter to The Statesman, he wrote, “I have fought throughout my time in government to end discrimination anytime and anywhere. For example, as a state legislator I authored and successfully passed landmark legislation banning women from being charged more for health insurance than men. And just last year I led an effort to pass legislation that protects female soldiers from retaliation when they report sexual assault. Each of these efforts required bipartisan support to pass, and the PWFA is no different.”
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Tyler Law calls Coffman’s use of the Planned Parenthood Logo and his vote to defund Planned Parenthood “hypocritical.”
“From immigration reform, to a woman’s right to choose, to supporting two competing laws pertaining to pregnant workers – Congressman Coffman is all too comfortable taking every side of every issue if he thinks it will help him score political points,” wrote Law in an email to The Colorado Independent.
The fate of Planned Parenthood funding will be a major point of contention in Coffman’s upcoming race against Democrat Morgan Carroll. The race has garnered national attention – and resources – from Democrats hoping to flip the district and win back the House.
By being the lone Republican supporter of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Coffman seems to be trying to assert himself as a champion of women — a key constituency whose support he’d need for re-election.
The Carroll campaign is hitting hard on Coffman’s decision to use the Planned Parenthood endorsement while voting to defund the organization.
“This type of blatant hypocrisy is exactly why voters distrust Washington politicians,” wrote Jennifer Koch Donovan, Carroll’s campaign manager, in an email to The Independent. “It’s clear that Congressman Coffman is spinning himself in circles trying to explain why he used Planned Parenthood for political purposes and then eliminated their funding for vital health services for women, men, and families.”
Coffman’s argument is that his politics are not strictly partyline – a point he needs to prove to voters to win in his swing district.
“I’m proud to take a stand and support the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,'” wrote Coffman. “It’s common sense, and it’s far more important than taking a pointless partisan stand. ”