Battle Joined: Planned Parenthood vs. Cynthia Coffman

MONDAY UPDATE: NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado weighs in:

Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado today questioned whether Colorado Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman could fairly represent the state’s voters and women after a video surfaced showing Coffman boasting that she helped deny funding for women’s health care.

A video of Cynthia Coffman, an announced candidate for Colorado Attorney General, shows her bragging to a group of Republicans in 2010 that she “was the attorney for Jane Norton when she went to court to take away funding for Planned Parenthood of the Rockies (sic).”
“Colorado has spoken several times on this issue. Voters have said clearly, loudly that they do not want government to make decisions that women should make in consultation with their families, their friends, their doctors and their faith,” said Middleton.

“This is the 21st century and women are capable of making a decision that is best for them, not denying health care services to those who most need them,” Middleton continued…

“Colorado voters have twice gone to the ballot and overwhelming said that we do not tolerate extremists on this issue. So who is Cynthia Coffman representing when she brags about denying health care services for women? It doesn’t seem like she’s on the side of the overwhelming majority of Colorado,” concluded Middleton.


In response to a post Wednesday on this blog, featuring video of GOP Colorado Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman boasting of her work to "defund Planned Parenthood" in this state, Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado sent out this press release yesterday making an issue of it:

DENVER—On election night in 2012 election, voters ousted politicians who ran on the campaign platform that included the promise to “defund Planned Parenthood,” resulting in an 18 percent gender gap, the largest since 1952. Yet we already have a candidate in Colorado who is repeating this same path and in doing so, using women’s health as her political pawn.

According to, Cynthia Coffman, who worked on Jane Norton’s 2010 bid for Senate, proudly boasted, at a campaign event, that she and Norton had “defunded Planned Parenthood.”

Coffman has now declared her intention to run for the Colorado Attorney General’s office, which begs the question – is this candidate in touch with the values of Coloradans?

Norton’s move to defund Planned Parenthood resulted in 13,000 mostly rural women losing complete access to their basic health care needs including access to life-saving breast cancer screenings and contraceptives.  Norton touts this move, which completely marginalizes the women of Colorado who relied on these services for their basic health care needs, as a success in her career.  Throwing women under the bus and calling it a political win is bad policy, bad politics, and clearly yet another move by a gynotician.  Gynotician is a term used by women’s health care advocates to denote a politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.

Planned Parenthood health centers provide primary and preventive health care to thousands of women who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. According to the Guttmacher Institute, six in ten patients who receive care at a family planning health center like Planned Parenthood consider it their main source of health care. One-in-five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for professional, non-judgmental, and confidential care. Nationwide, three million women, men, and teens are served in Planned Parenthood health centers every year.

“Women are frustrated with how politicians are playing politics with women’s health. Even in Colorado where we enjoy pro-choice majorities in both the House and Senate, we are not clear of anti-woman, anti-choice attacks. What’s clear is that people across Colorado do not think women’s health should come with a political label. In fact, a recent poll suggests that the majority of Colorado voters support Planned Parenthood, sixty-four percent of whom gave Planned Parenthood a favorable rating.” said Cathy Alderman of Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

Unfortunately, politicians at the federal and state level continue to attack Planned Parenthood and threaten Planned Parenthood health centers ability to provide health care to patients who need it the most. These attacks are far out-of-the-mainstream, and opposed by a majority of Americans.

In Colorado, PPVC is and will continue to hold state candidates accountable for their votes on legislation pertinent to women issues and women’s health. PPVC recently released the 2013 legislative scorecard based on lawmaker’s votes on key legislation throughout the 2013 session.

Please join PPVC in its “In My Pink Shoes” campaign to show Coffman the real values of Coloradans.  


Allow us to spell this out as frankly as we may: Cynthia Coffman would obviously be helpful for Republicans in overcoming their large and growing deficit of support among women voters. Unfortunately, that appeal can rapidly fade if a woman candidate can be shown to be repellent on issues important to women voters. And what's useful in a GOP primary, which this attention from Planned Parenthood could be, can be harmful in the general election.

Each general election in recent years has brought this issue to the fore, in different ways and at different times but always over the strenuous objections of Republicans. That's because it's not an issue they want to talk about outside a narrow base of voters, and exposure outside of that narrow base has repeatedly proven disastrous in the general election. In addition, in recent years the ubiquity of digital video has made it impossible to contain the primary message from the future general election audience. Thus a 2010 campaign appearance at a "Tea Party" forum on behalf of another candidate can become a liability years later.

We don't have a solution, but at this point, we can describe the problem very well.

31 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavidThi808 says:

    That press release is useless. Preaching to the choir doesn't appeal to the vast majority of voters.

  2. Curmudgeon says:

    Okay, what approach do you think would be useful?

    • DavidThi808 says:

      First get rid of lines like (most people read that and figure these are people off the deep end):

      Gynotician is a term used by women’s health care advocates to denote a politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women’s health care decisions.

      Nor do you need somethin like this (insider baseball which causes people to stop reading):

      On election night in 2012 election, voters ousted politicians who ran on the campaign platform that included the promise to “defund Planned Parenthood,” resulting in an 18 percent gender gap, the largest since 1952.

      Make it very simple. Something like:

      Planned Parenthood is the only provider of cancer screening, STD testing & treatment, and contraception for X% of the women in Colorado. The only provider. These services are a matter of life and death for some women. They are a matter of economic security and a happy secure life for many more.

      Cynthia Coffman was instrumental in forcing the end of these services. And she has bragged about her key role in ending these services.

      Why is she proud that she has made these services unavailable to women?

      ps – I whipped the above out fast. I'm sure something much better can be written.

      • Curmudgeon says:

        Seems reasonable enough. But I didn't see anything wrong with the original. It's not like the opposition is pulling any punches.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          My concern is people will stop reading it.

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            My concern is that you are a reliable Republican apologist David.  You've never met a Repulican you couldn't defend.  The other point of view that you refuse to consider is that this message by Planned Parenthood will resonant with men and women who are fed up with politicians using women's health care for political gain.  I think the term is a Gynotician.  Maybe if we use that term as much a Obamacare then people will get the point.

            • BlueCat says:

              Gotta say I think David has something here. Planned Parenthood has a tendency to say things in a strident, my way or the highway manner that turns a lot of women, especially older more traditional ones, off. 

              I remember volunteering to make calls for them at one point and finding that all the emphasis in the script was on abortion, abortion, abortion with no mention of the fact that about 97% of the health care services their clinics offer have nothing to do with abortion and that many women rely on Planned Parenthood for healthcare and safe effective contraception they couldn't otherwise afford.

              I thought emphasizing that aspect would appeal to a lot of  women my age with money to contribute who are the type who believe in choice but would never choose abortion as an option for themselves and aren't necessarily opposed to all restrictions, such as restrictions on late term abortions with exceptions for the life and health of the mother.

              Planned Parenthood doesn't make the slightest effort to speak to women like that. The attitude seems to be either you're 100% on board or you're the enemy and an idiot so they weren't at all interested in my suggestions.

              I think David is absolutely right that they'd do better relying on the facts without the snark. Snark is fun on a blog and between friends but in a press release meant  to resonate with a wide audience, not just amuse the choir, not so much.   And let's not forget, it's Planned Parenthood, not Abortion Inc.  Health and access to responsible family planning should be much more central to the message than it sometimes seems to be

              • DaftPunk says:

                BC, you tell a story about "one time", and even though the 97% number is repeated ad nauseum, you trot out "Planned Parenthood doesn't make the slightest effort to speak to women like that" as though you've done an exhaustive study of all their outreach literature.  That's Thielen-worthy.

                 All I remember hearing since April 2010 when the Republican congress was ready to shut down the government over Pap smears for poor women is "breast health, STD screening and treatment, and life-saving cancer screenings."  The pro-choice side is too quick to accept the opposition's labeling and feel guilty about supprorting abortion,   As if that's all being pro-choice was about.

                As for "gynotician"' one of the most powerful pieces of messaging on these issues is that personal medical decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their doctor, family, and clergy, without the interference of lawyers, politicians, and the government.  Even ACOG has joined the attack against this legislative onslaught in similar terms:

                North Carolina is yet another example of legislators wanting to play doctor, telling real doctors how to practice medicine and how to care for our patients. Medical decisions must be based on scientific evidence and made by patients in consultation with physicians, not the state or federal government.

                Let’s be clear. Senate Bill 132 and Senate Bill 353 collectively have one purpose: To restrict the reproductive rights of women in North Carolina by interfering with the practice of medicine.

                It's not too far from that to gynotician.

                And as for restrictions on "late-term" abortions (whatever that non-medical gynotician term means), those are the worst example of politicians meddling in medical affairs about which they know nothing.  See this heart-breaking story for a great example of why politicians should stay the fuck out of exam rooms.  It's horrible stuff like this that doesn't translate into sound bites that's why these rights cannot be peeled away at the edges, no matter how squeamish they might make some people, even if those squeamish people aren't the ones having to live with those circumstances.


                • DavidThi808 says:

                  First off thanks BC.

                  Second GG & DP I was not saying that Planned Parenthood should not be defended – my point is that it should do so effectively. And that means speak in a way that resonates with the politically apathetic moderates.

                  If you're unwilling to listen to me, then listen to BC.

                  • DaftPunk says:

                    I'd rather liisten to the outstanding consultants they employ, like Celinda Lake.

                    With favorability ratings challenged only by the Red Cross, and an electoral record the envy of Karl Rove, what they're doing seems to be working with the electorate, even if it doesn't resonate with the armchair quarterbacks at ColoradoPols.

                    • BlueCat says:

                      First, Daft, I'm not talking about one time. I encountered the same attitude when I briefly worked signing up members over a period of several weeks. I've encountered the same thing over  the many years  during which I've been called and asked to contribute or stopped on the mall.

                      Second, I think you're terrific, well informed and very smart and both enjoy and respect your salty comments, agreeing with you almost all of the time. But would I want you as a spokesperson doing outreach to broaden support on an important issue? No way. For that, I'd be looking for a less acerbic tone, more tact and diplomacy.

                      Rallying the committed troops and expanding support among the not already 100% committed are different tasks requiring different skill sets. The scripts that the troops working the street and phones are given, along with the attitudes radiating from so many of them, in my opinion, aren't the best for the latter part of the job and that's the point of contact for most potential new supporters, who have never heard of people like Ms. Lake and will never have a conversation with anyone on that level of the organization.

                      "Gynoticians" may strike you as a snappy but, like a joke punchline that has to be explained,  doesn't accomplish much. I very much doubt that smug snark is a very effective outreach tool.

                    • DaftPunk says:

                      BC, please understand that "Daft Punk" is not who I am, but a role I play on the internet.  Real life doesn't allow me to address things in the tone I might think they deserve, but this is recreation, and being a crazy ass motherfucker who doesn't give a shit for convertion ("Daft Punk") is a way of blowing off steam.  I can self-censor when speaking to a general audience.  

                      When doing so, I use talking points created by people who know how to develop those and what works.  I wouldn't expect anyone to know Celinda Lake's name any more than they do Frank Luntz's, but they sure know his babies: "Death Tax" and "Job Creator."  I'm not saying Celinda Lake herself signed off on gynotician, but Planned Parenthood has been very successful in politics lately, and just because it doesn't resonate with you, doesn't mean it's a bad strategy.  I think they know what they're doing.

                      Love you too.

                    • DaftPunk says:

                      BC, You probably wouldn't like this one either

                • PERA hopeful says:

                  I agree with Blue Cat.  I'm one of the old ladies who has never (thankfully) needed an abortion, but got my first pelvic exam and birth control pills from Planned Parenthood 40 years ago and relied upon them exclusively for all my health needs until I was old enough to have a job with health insurance.  I reckon I never needed an abortion because I was able to get birth control pills from PP.  When I was young my health needs were basically just pap smears, breast exams, and another prescription.  So I'm glad as hell that PP provides abortions, but that isn't the issue that resonates with me.  What resonates with me is that lots of young women and poor women do not have anyplace to go except for PP to get the same preventive services that I needed when I was in their position.

                  "Gynotician" isn't a word.  It has no meaning.  It sounds stupid.  If I saw the word without context, I would puzzle it out to mean a female politician.  Tell the heart-breaking stories about why women need abortions after 20 weeks; people need to know about them.  But buzzwords like "gynotician" don't make your case.  I also stopped reading the press release at that point.  

                  Now, OBGYN-otician, I would understand right away.

                  • BlueCat says:

                    This is for Daft.  No reply available after your last reply to me.

                    Understand completely. Blue Cat is a similar creation. Don't agree that PP has been doing such a great job communicating to the non-choir as evidenced by the fact that even in not so solid red states women's rights and health care are being successfully attacked in state legislatures. But don't mind agreeing to disagree with Daft who is more than fine with me as is.  And you can give me a hard time any old time.  Blue Cat's no wussy cat.

  3. TommyLeForce says:

    “Even in Colorado where we enjoy pro-choice majorities in both the House and Senate, we are not clear of anti-woman, anti-choice attacks. What’s clear is that people across Colorado do not think women’s health should come with a political label.”

    So they label everyone and then say CO doesn’t want labels. What?

    • Curmudgeon says:

      Perhaps you could have someone read it to you, and explain the difference.

    • BlueCat says:

      Hint. It's conservatives who have chosen to label women's health a liberal or Democrartic issue. Why else would they be so proud of defunding and closing clinics mainly devoted to women's health and already banned from using any federal funds for the abortion related services which comprise a  very small percentage of the services provided.

      Daft made a remark about the 97% non-abortion related services being a stat bandied about. Well it was "bandied" to me by Planned Parenthood.  I'm willing to admit it might not be totally accurate but even if it's 80 or 90 percent, the fact remains that a very large percentage of services is not abortion related.

      In any case, if conservatives want to label things like pap smears and cancer screenings Democratic and label the gleeful defunding and closing down of clinics that make that type of healthcare accessible to low income women Republican and something for all conservatives to be proud of, that's their choice. They should live with it without complaining about it.

      • TommyLeForce says:

        I don't think you can call Republicans "anti-woman" simply for their opposition to abortion. I fully support the funding of womens health screenings, just like many conservatives. My problem is with government funding going to abortion procedures, which, no matter how low the percentage is, is simply unacceptable.

        • GalapagoLarry says:

          Tommy, please provide an example of government funded abortion. Every single–every single–government subsidy of Planned Parenthood expressly forbids the funding to be used for abortion. So, example, please.

          Oh, and PS: There are plenty of reasons to lable Republicans "anti-woman", from their economic policies (Ha, there's an oxymoron: Republican economic policy.), labor policies (Ha, again.), to their binder policies (Oh, stop, my sides are splitting.)

          • TommyLeForce says:

            The Hyde Amendment, on the surface does in fact ban gov't funding for abortion. That being said, a quick look at the subsidy with even the most basic use of economic reasoning tells a different story. For simplicity, I am going to use some easy, lazy numbers to illustrate this point.

            Let's say there is currently no subsidy in place. Planned Parenthood has allocated, say, $100 dollars into both their abortion and women's health screenings accounts. Here comes the subsidy!

            The government then makes the decision that, hey, maybe if we provide a little subsidy for women to get regular mammograms, we could catch breast cancer earlier, and in turn save a whole lot of lives. This noble subsidy, would have some unintended consequences.

            Let's say the subsidy provides $20 to women's health screenings. So in theory, this would put $120 into PP's women's health screening account while leaving $100 in their abortion account. If that happens great!

            On the other hand, PP could also decide that they only need $100 dollars in their women's health screening account, and that they would like more money to provide abortions with. If they make that choice, they could take the $20 government subsidy, and reallocate $20 of their own money from women's health screenings to abortion.

            In fact, if they chose to reallocate an additional $100 to abortion services, leaving $20 in the women's health screening account and $200 in their abortion account, they could do so while still abiding by the Hyde Amendment.

            For a more detailed explanation that includes visual aides, go check out this site from Georgetown:

            The section discussing food stamps and school vouchers illustrates the same basic point.

            • BlueCat says:

              While not granting your basic premise that this is something Planned Parenthood would or could do, let's say merely for the sake of argument that you're right and the scenario you describe really does play out.

              It astonishes me that your side places the rights of even a fertilized egg so far above the rights, health and lives of women who have already been born that you find it perfectly reasonable to deny millions access to affordable health care and life saving screenings in order to make sure there isn't the ghost of a chance for a penny of public funding to interfere with the rights of a single fertilized egg, despite the fact that the constitution grants the right to interfere to the woman carrying that fertilized egg.. Apparently it's much better for any number of  those already born to die than for a single pregnancy to be terminated even though termination is a perfectly legal procedure.

              Even more astonishing, once the fertilized egg has completed development and made its way through to the other side of the birth canal you don't recognize that same fertilized egg, now a human being with a birthday, as having any right whatsoever to the basic requirements of a decent life such as guaranteed health care or nutritional assistance.

              The same mother you would seek to punish for aborting,  though you hate to be cornered as to what the legal  consequences for the woman would be once your dream of making all abortion illegal is realized, you are now happy to punish for doing what you see as the right thing and having that baby by leaving her and her baby on their own to get by as best they can.  Imposing your side's religious views on all via the government is replaced by the personal responsibility and small government mantra at the instance of birth.

              And you actually call this unholy stew of values being "pro-life" Once again… astonishing!

            • DaftPunk says:

              This question of "subsidy" is not comparable to a household budget, as made by your link.

              Health screenings and non-abortion services paid for by Medicaid and Title X compensate at a fraction of the rate private insurance would. There's a reason women need low-income clinics like Planned Parenthood.  If these government programs were such gravy trains of excess payments that they could "subsidize" other service lines, wouldn't private doctors be happy to see these patients?  There's no shortage of doctors who will do an abortion for a paying patient, byut good luck finding a Title X clinic.

              In fact, the care for these patients costs more than the reimbursements, which is why Planned Parenthood also gets grants from foundations and contributions from private citizens.

              The notion that someone is larding the cupboard on generous government payments is a conservative fantasy true only in the defense industry.

        • BlueCat says:

          There is already a ban on government funds being used for abortion services. Planned Parenthood doesn't use government funds for that purpose by law already in place.

          I never said Republicans are anti-woman simply because they are anti-abortion. You made that connection,Tommy. I only addressed your complaints about political labeling. Republicans clearly desire, are proud of, brag about and run on labeling their party as the one that shuts down clinics women rely on for healthcare. That makes it a very odd thing to be complaining about. You can't have it both ways.

          But then today's Republicans don't want women to have abortions, don't want them to use most safe and effective means of birth control on the false grounds that they ae are abortion inducing and also don't want to see any of their tax dollars spent providing services (not even food and basic health care) to children once they are born. So apparently Republicans want to have it a wide irrational varity of ways at once. It's pretty glaring. People are bound to notice.


    • roccoprahn says:

      "tommy leforce"……….

      Word to the wise going forward, since it's too late on this one.

      Know what you're talking about when you post.

      Larry and BlueCat accurately pointed out there's a Federal ban on the 5% of their services Planned Parenthood provides for abortion. It's called the Hyde Amendment. Now for the State funded abortion under Medicaid, Colorado is a State that does NOT fund  So, in Colorado, women needing….I did say needing, whether it meets your snotty approval or not, an abortion, will need to make arrangements for payment on their own.

      Again, get educated on something before you pop off. Half or totally uninformed people such as yourself labeling themselves "conservatives", "republicans" give us a very accurate read on the majority of your base…….an intellectually dishonest group, too lazy to research or delve into issues before naively repeating what fox news, ross kaminski, mike rosen, and republican legislators routinely mouth to you.

      It's  your willingness to make decisions about the health of women  and families you don't even know that makes you anti woman. Your willfull ignorance of the fact 1 out of every three women in this nation…….. be they hypocritical republicans, or Democrats, or Independents……..will have an abortion by age 45 walks you into a beatdown you deserve.

      Bottom line, "tommy leforce", while a woman's decision concerning her own body and health isn't your business to begin with, "your" tax dollars ain't payin' for any decision anyway. As far as in the case of rape or incest, you'd have to be a real special type of shitstain to even butt in on that one.

      Again, know what you're yapping aout next time you post here. This ain't "coloradopeakpolitics".

      • TommyLeForce says:

        See the above comment. And please refrain from calling me a shitstain. Thanks.

        • roccoprahn says:

          Only a really special type of shitstain would couple a made up scenario, with nothing but jonthecon caldera's bullshit as an unquoted reference, a false hypothetical scenario where a womens' health provider willfully disobeys the law in allocating funds, couches it in "Georgetown" reference that doesn't even apply, and pretends there's a validity in the whole thing…..just to save face when all you had to do in the first place was get educated before popping off.

          The shitstain handle can be avoided should you choose to supply the wheres and whens of Planned Parenthood doing what you accused them of doing.

          I'll need you to get me the documentation concerning this. Now.  Hint, the folks that sold you the con made it up..

          You should at least verify stuff first.

          Get to it, you're burnin' daylight.

  4. mamajama55 says:


    Federal law prevents the fungibility of funds you're so worked up about. Planned Parenthood knows very well that they are in the targets of Republican operatives who pretend to care about children until the children take their first breaths. .

    Then, said children become a burden upon the taxpayer and a problem.

    If you're against abortion, get a vasectomy. Never have unprotected sex. Come out of the closet and find a boyfriendAdopt an older child. Support contraception. (Obamacare does).  I'm still waiting for the throngs of conservatives to embrace Obamacare because of all of the abortions it will prevent by providing free or low cost contraception.  Aren't you thrilled by this? It will definitely prevent more abortions than your moralistic preaching ever will.

  5. mamajama55 says:

    There are some true beleivers on the issue of abortion, and I respect them. What a true believer looks like: they adopt children, or at least give money to agencies that take care of children. They don't try to make life harder for poor children and families. They do truly try to prevent abortions, but they use charity and kindness, not shame and punishment, to do so.

    Most politicians are not true beleivers. They are looking for a hobbyhorse to ride to political power. Tea partiers are still spurring on the anti-abortion horse, hoping to kick the poor beast into galloping them to the finish line.  Both of the Coffmans – Cynthia and Mike – fit into that latter category. They actually don't care either way if women get abortions, and they certainly don't care about the quality of women's or children's lives.

    They are counting on the "true believers" to support them and contribute to their campaigns. And the believers will come through for them. Problem is,  only 30% of people have never had an abortion, or never had a family member who has had an abortion. The rest of us, in reality, have done what we had to do to survive and to raise our other children. Whatever shame or ambivalence we feel, and no, darlins, abortion is not just like getting your tonsils out, we do know that we have made a tough decision we had to make.

    The Coffmans and their ilk actually plan on this ambivalence and shame in order to keep on gallopin'. So when they brag about defunding Planned Parenthood, they are planning that the 97% of women and men and couples who have used the birth control and STD and cancer screenings will not come forward, demanding, "You defunded what?"

    That was the magic of Wendy Williams. That's why she's a rock star and a possible contender for governor of Texas now. She did come forward, and encouraged a whole lot of people to do so, too.

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