Planned Parenthood: The Needle Mike Coffman Can’t Thread

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports:

Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora said Saturday he supports women’s healthcare but not abortion practices that “fly in the face of human decency,” and that’s why he joined other House Republicans to vote for a budget bill Friday that defunds Planned Parenthood for one year…

“Many longtime supporters of Planned Parenthood are not only shocked by what’s been revealed, but also by Planned Parenthood’s arrogant response. Until they clean up their act, we should fund critical women’s services through the many other community health partners that operate across my district, the state and all across this country in a way that doesn’t fly in the face of human decency.”

The react from Coffman’s Democratic opponent Morgan Carroll was swift:

“It is appalling to see people playing political games with women’s lives, bodies and personal freedoms,” Carroll said in a statement Friday evening. [Pols emphasis]

Last year, as has recently drawn much attention from us and others, Coffman used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad, noting that the organization had praised a vote he cast in favor of a bill to combat violence against women. That hasn’t stopped Coffman from joining in on the GOP’s pile-on against the organization after the release of heavily-edited videos this summer attacking the organization’s fetal tissue donation practices for medical research. But in recent weeks, the campaign against Planned Parenthood by congressional Republicans has lost much momentum after a hearing to confront the organization’s director Cecile Richards backfired in spectacular fashion, with even the ambitious young chair of the committee Rep. Jason Chaffetz admitting there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

But again, and unfortunately it has to be said again and again, that’s reality. In the bubble of conservative media culture and the “grassroots” they keep in a constant state of slow-boiling panic, none of this factual stuff matters. Planned Parenthood will always be the ghoulish agency of evil where baby brains and still-kicking little disembodied limbs are kept alive in petri dishes for sale to the highest bidder, most likely some sleazy Eurotrash Bond villain type (George Soros) who wants to clone an army of fetus Frankensteins for world domination.

Have we mentioned recently that the people who believe this stuff make up Coffman’s base?

You see, folks, the reason that this keeps happening over and over again, necessitating long-winded explanations from Coffman about how he doesn’t really oppose women’s health care but has to vote like he does out of “conscience,” is simple: Coffman is trapped between the swing votes he has to hold onto in order to stay in office in a highly competitive district, and the Republican base votes he cannot afford to alienate. Just like the issue of immigration reform, as much as Coffman would like to, he will never be able to appeal to authentic moderate and left-independent voters more than his Democratic opponents–but he also can’t make too much of an effort to appeal to them without upsetting the conservative Republican base that has to be there for him in order to get re-elected.

Unlike immigration reform, an issue politically-savvy Republicans are happy to see ignored between now and the 2016 elections, Planned Parenthood is the subject du jour for the conservative wing of the Republican Party today. Holding endless show trial hearings, staging vote after vote to give safe-district Republican politicians multiple opportunities to lodge their vilification of Planned Parenthood in the permanent record, is what they want to be doing with their time.

If Mike Coffman does possess any political sense, he knows this is a huge mistake for himself politically–even if it’s not for some others in his party. But even if he does know, he’s powerless to change course.

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