Court Documents Detail Cynthia Coffman’s Role in Defunding Planned Parenthood

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman doesn’t want to be labeled “pro-choice” but says abortion should be “rare” and “safe.” She’s personally opposed to Roe v. Wade but thinks the landmark abortion-protection law is “settled,” and she believes in the “libertarian view that a woman should have a right to an abortion.” Overall, she’s on neither “end of the political spectrum,” she says.

ColoradoPolitics reporter Joey Bunch is the latest journalist who’s tried to sort this out, and her campaign didn’t return get back to him last week.

With Coffman not talking, I wrote a post for Rewire today outlining her history as a leader of the successful effort, during the Owens Administration, to defund Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM).

The issue came up last month when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that our state constitution’s ban on direct or indirect funding of abortion doesn’t preclude the state from funding Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services. 

As the point person for the defunding effort in 2001, Coffman wrote that the decision to defund PPRM was a “common sense application of the facts.”

The Supreme Court took the opposite view, ruling that a ban on non-abortion services would lead to “absurd” results.

Coffman hasn’t said whether she stands behind her 2001 legal opinion, which was cited in plaintiff Jane Norton’s brief in the Supreme Court case.

But when asked about the case last week, she said it deserved a long conversation another time, indicating that she may have changed her view on it, even though her work on the defunding issue was featured in multiple court documents that I reviewed.

At the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), where she was hired by Norton to serve as the department’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, Coffman apparently developed the anti-Planned Parenthood legal opinion and implemented the policy, according to court documents.

Among other things, she was featured in a 2001 CDPHE news release announcing the PPRM defunding, she informed PPRM of the decision, and she issued statements explaining it.

By distancing herself from anti-choice leaders, such as Denver talk-radio host Dan Caplis. Coffman is apparently trying to appeal to unaffiliated voters who can now participate in June’s primary election and to general-election voters, who will cast ballots in November, while wrapping herself in enough of a anti-abortion blanket to have a shot at winning the required 30 percent of votes at the Colorado Republican assembly in April and to anti-choice Republicans in the June primary–if she clears the assembly.

Her problem: nearly half Colorado GOP voters won’t even “consider” voting for a “pro-choice” candidate, according to a poll released yesterday by a Republican consulting firm in Colorado.

So, if you were Coffman, maybe you’d want to talk about about Planned Parenthood? Or maybe not.

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