Coffman should be asked about exceptions in 20-week-abortion ban

(But remember, the “War on Women” is a myth! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman shrugs.

Rep. Mike Coffman shrugs.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Coffman voted for the 20-week abortion ban yesterday. Under the bill’s exceptions, a raped woman can have an abortion only “if the rape has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency.” And a child who’s a victim of incest can obtain an abortion if the “incest against a minor has been reported at any time prior to the abortion to an appropriate law enforcement agency or to a government agency legally authorized to act on reports of child abuse or neglect.” There is no exception for adult incest victims.

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Abortion continues to be a major focus of House Republicans, as they prepare to vote today on the latest version of their 20-week abortion ban.

The bill mandates exceptions for rape-and-incest victims, but to be allowed to have an abortion, a raped woman has to seek counseling or medical help within 48 hours of the procedure.

Coffman’s vote on the bill should be of interest to reporters. For most of his political career, Coffman took a hard-line position against any rape-or-incest exception to his anti-abortion stance. But facing a tough re-election fight, he announced his support for abortion for rape and incest.

In his vote on a similar measure in 2013, Coffman favored exceptions for rape and incest but he also voted for the requirement that rape victims report the crime to police, in order to be allowed to have an abortion. Will this year’s requirement for counseling or medical help be enough for Coffman?

If no, why? If so, what’s the explanation for his change of heart on this issue? Why does he no longer support police reporting?  Why the evolution from someone who was fiercely opposed to abortion, even for rape and incest, to someone who favors exceptions? The makeup of his new district? A personal story?

Just as House Republicans in Washington are again fighting over which exceptions should be included  in their 20-week abortion ban, the left-leaning People for the American Way has released a new report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From and What it Means for the Future of Choice,” which explains the strategic thinking of the different factions of the anti-choice movement.

The report offers a broad overview of the politics and policy of personhood, focusing on the current disputes among personhood leaders over where to take the movement going forward. And it explains why some anti-choice leaders oppose state personhood amendments, even though they share the common goal of outlawing abortion.

The report points out that personhood leaders denounce anti-choice allies, like Coffman, when they support exceptions for rape and incest, even when done in an obvious effort to make themselves or their anti-abortion legislation more palatable to the public. The report states:

“But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.”

We’ve seen this play out in Colorado, as personhood leaders have turned against Republicans like Coffman.

In any case, Colorado continues to be ground zero for the personhood movement, and the PFAW report helps put what we see in front of us in a national context.

 

7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. FrankUnderwood says:

    Isn't this the bill they tried to run through the House last winter but ran into opposition from Repubs in competitive northeast and midwest districts? They also got bogged down with that traditional question which befuddles and stumps Republicans:  what kind of rape constitutes a legitimate rape?   

  2. BlueCat says:

    No, Jason. We've already been through the nail your opponent on abortion campaigns and they weren't very effective. Certainly we should talk about where candidates stand on various issues including this one. Maybe that's because 20 +  week abortions are rare and lots of women who support choice aren't really for abortion and place a much higher priority on several other issues. Lets not do that again, OK?

    • Jason Salzman says:

      Did you see Rachel Maddow's piece this week on the GOP and birth control/abortion? here it is http://on.msnbc.com/1GZYU9X. It's inspiring. 

      • BlueCat says:

        Yes I have and it's terrible. I'm just telling you what you should have learned from 2014. The assumption that making abortion and birth control the center piece of campaigns against Rs is the way to get enough of the women's vote to win is a bad assumption.

        I canvass here in the south 'burbs and I can tell you that many middle of the road women were turned off by the Udall campaign's fixation on abortion rights seemingly to the exclusion of issues that, lady parts or not, were more important to them. Many, including registered Dems, told me they were not one issue voters, that jobs and the economy for their children's future were more important to them and some had the impression that Dems, including Udall, were abortion "extremists" actively promoting abortion, the more the better.  No need to tell me that's not true. Of course it isn't but there it is.

        Many have ambivalent feelings, supporting the right to choose but also open to certain limitations, especially on late abortions. Making people aware of the threat, even to birth control, is fine but candidates creating the impression that that's all they've got on their Republican opponents backfires. We all saw it backfire in 2014. That's all I'm saying. Even women voters want a wider range of reasons to vote for a candidate.

        • Jason Salzman says:

          Thanks. We'll never know what would have happened if Udall had backed off choice. Could have been even worse. But you make a lot of good points. In any case, I don't think we'll see another Udall-style campaign. I think we can all agree on that. And thanks for the canvassing.

          • BlueCat says:

            No problem. I've been doing it for 15 years so I think I know a little about what goes over with attainable south suburban voters in general and women in particular. I can also tell you how frustrated local volunteers were with the Udall campaigns approach, how may of us voiced those concerns, how we kept waiting for more ads to appear dealing with the issues our neighbors, including women, were telling us they were most concerned about, how we were ignored and how our concerns accurately predicted the outcome. The same goes for the Romanoff campaign. Volunteers were stunned and left scratching our heads by the opening ad emphasizing how great it would be to mandate a balanced federal budget. It was news to us that this was a primary reason why we were supporting Romanoff.

            You know what else? If an ad or two had incorporated clips from that video showing a fit, boyishly grinning, ruggedly handsome Udall reaching that 14er summit and graciously crediting the folks who helped him get there, clearly having the time of his life as a Colorado outdoorsman, that would have been a whole lot more appealing to Colorado voters who eat that kind of thing up than the constantly scowling, scolding, sour Udall they got in pretty much all the ads while Gardner smiled and claimed to be a nice moderate kind of guy.

            Of course we can't know any hypothetical but it's highly unlikely, given all that we do know, that the outcome would have been worse (losing by more?) with an injection of positivity, charm and more on some of the other issues. In person Udall is as charming, in a down home Colorado way, as all get out but the campaign ads conveyed nothing of that and people want to like the person they're voting for.

            In any case, the proof that the campaign was a flop is in the results, an incumbent Dem well within the centrist range needed for a Dem to win statewide in Colorado losing. That 's fact, not speculation and Dem ops need to learn from it and from the results of their arrogance in rejecting everything lifelong resident experienced volunteers (not the idealistic newbies who haven't been around the block yet and still think we can save Uncle Joe's farm if we all just get together, put on a show in the barn, clap our hands for Tinkerbell and sing types) are telling them they're hearing on the ground. I am dead certain they should have listened.

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Coffman is a man in search of "wiggle room", so that he can placate both his fiercely anti-abortion base,and his more moderate district. He could care less about logical consistency.

    Strategically, the best thing to do to counter Coffman's attempt to please everyone is to testify with some wrenching personal stories about date rape, marital rape, incest, abuse by person in position of trust, statutory rape, or other instances of nonconsensual sex where victims don't necessarily figure out within 48 hours that a crime was committed against them,  get fired up enough to report it, and then make it through the obstacle course of skeptical or biased technicians to file a report.  For example, Bill Cosby's victims are only coming forward now, after years or decades of silence.

    There would have to be some way to preserve victim's anonymity…obscure face, distort voice???I don't know if that is allowable in legislative testimony. I'm pretty brave, but I wouldn't stand up in the Statehouse and recount those kinds of stories to all and sundry.

    Anyway, if there were some way to introduce those stories into the discussion on the bill, Coffman could be asked if he would support an exception in cases like these.

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