Coffman, GOP Reel From Planned Parenthood Terror Attack

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.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes today on what is emerging as an enormous political disaster for Republicans at every level of government, after they spent most of the year vilifying Planned Parenthood in the harshest imaginable terms–rhetoric now under intense scrutiny as the motivating factor in the domestic terror attack on Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Colorado Springs last week:

In the days after Robert L. Dear went on a shooting spree in a Colorado Planned Parenthood, killing three people and injuring nine and telling law enforcement “no more baby parts,” many commentators have observed that the blame for this act of abortion terrorism can be placed directly on Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, a GOP committee’s endless investigation into Planned Parenthood, and the maker of a wholly discredited “sting video” intended to show that Planned Parenthood cheerfully sells “baby parts” for profit…

Of course none of the Republicans who have made claims about the baby killers at Planned Parenthood have accepted even a filament of responsibility for the Colorado killings, or for the other five attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics since July, when the first sting videos were released. Carly Fiorina was quick to disclaim any kind of connection between her demonization of Planned Parenthood for its alleged profiteering from “baby parts” and the actions of Dear on Friday.

Lithwick proceeds to nail the problem:

What they are saying is a lie. [Pols emphasis] Every single state to have investigated the Planned Parenthood baby-parts accusations has found nothing. The congressional search has also turned up nothing. The videos cited repeatedly by Fiorina and co. do not prove what they set out to prove. There is no factual or empirical basis from which to believe that Planned Parenthood sells fetal parts for money. Indeed, more and more the candidates, like Trump, hide behind the passive “lots of people are upset about this” language of the not-quite-persuaded.

Yesterday, liberal and pro-choice groups gathered at the Colorado Capitol to denounce the wild rhetoric directed against Planned Parenthood by Republican politicians, after the release of heavily-edited undercover videos falsely accusing the organization of “selling” fetal tissue for medical research. In recent months, Colorado Republicans have seized on these videos to demand redundant “investigations” and make petty, ultimately self-defeating swipes at the organization’s public funding. These attempts have been rejected by state officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health, who are aware that the investigations elsewhere have uncovered no wrongdoing and that the videos underlying the allegations have no objective factual value.

Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R).

Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R).

At the same time liberals and pro-choice groups were holding their press conference, the Colorado Independent was moving a story that powerfully validated their contention: GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz issued a statement flat-out asserting that the “true instigator” of the violence against Planned Parenthood is Planned Parenthood itself. This statement, tacitly excusing the actions of the alleged terrorist and blaming the victims of terrorism for the attack against them, is exactly the kind of rhetoric that supporters of Planned Parenthood say incited the attack. The Independent’s scoop on Windholz has now been picked up nationwide, and is an ugly, damning new piece of a story that already had the GOP on the defensive.

And you know who else is on the defensive? Rep. Mike Coffman. 9NEWS:

The Republicans who were blamed by name Tuesday have all recently said incendiary things about Planned Parenthood.

But, the progressive groups also listed Congressman Mike Coffman, who has moderated his position on abortion over the years.

Coffman is Colorado Democrats’ top target in next year’s elections.

He issued a statement following the rally:

“I’m deeply offended that anyone would try to exploit this horrific incident purely for political gain. Both sides should knock-off the partisan games and name-calling. It is beneath the dignity of our state and country, and a grave disservice to the victims. A horrible tragedy has happened in our state. Our focus should be on the victims, and honoring their lives and supporting their families. And we should focus on achieving justice – this shooting was a premediated atrocity, and absolutely ripe for a death penalty prosecution.”

Voting to defund Planned Parenthood recently with fellow Republicans in response to the doctored video campaign against the organization, Coffman stated that Planned Parenthood “flies in the face of human decency.” 9NEWS’ report that Coffman has “moderated his position on abortion” dreadfully oversimplifies Coffman’s attempt to thread the needle on this issue since redistricting put him into a competitive district. While Coffman votes to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions in Congress, he uses the group’s logo in campaign ads (photo top right). All told, Coffman has not “moderated” his views on abortion so much as he has muddied them up.

Defenders of Coffman decry the fact that he is being “singled out” for criticism while other stridently anti-Planned Parenthood politicians like Doug Lamborn have not been to the same degree. But the problem with that logic is obvious: Lamborn never used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad.

Bottom line: there are many Republicans today whose extreme rhetoric against Planned Parenthood can be fairly characterized as incitement to violence. But in terms of hypocrisy with regard to Planned Parenthood, Mike Coffman stands alone.

The political fallout from the attack is plain to see at this point–enough that congressional Republicans appear to have backed away completely from threats to force a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood’s funding. This attack has revealed not so much the lies told about Planned Parenthood by Republicans, which were already well-known–but the effect those lies are having on some Americans who hear them and believe them. It’s not a matter of free speech, any more than yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is a matter of free speech. The situation inevitably is different now that three people are dead at the hands of a man who admitted his motive was “no more baby parts.”

And no amount of protesting their own guilt can change that.

15 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Diogenesdemar says:

    Pool on how long it takes Moderatus to prance his "disgust" here??  (Not at anything that's actually disgusting, however.  And certainly not at the disgusting atrocities his heroes have worked so very diligently to foment.) …

  2. Socialisticat says:

    Never apologize; always attack.

    Abortionists and Planned Parenthood Shooter Are Just Two Sides Of The Same Coin #tcot #copolitics

    — Douglas County GOP (@DougCOGOP) December 1, 2015


  3. DawnPatrol says:

    The GOP of 2015 — and for the last 15-20 years at least — is and has been a racist, bigoted domestic terrorist organization, and an enemy of the state and of the Constitution.

    Same for its evil minions in the extremist, dangerously radical right-wing closed-loop information-feedback media octopus, both in terms of teevee (Fox Fiction) and raydeeoh (the debased, immoral, shrieking hyenas and soulless 24/7 lie-spewers of Clear Channel, et al.).

    CoPols' resident hemorrhoids and deeply despised turds-in-the-punchbowl, Andrew Carney Barker and MuddyAnus are nothing but cowardly, immoral domestic-terrorist sympathizers and enablers, and also profound shitheads..

    • Moderatus says:

      Now you're using violent rhetoric against me? Thank goodness you don't know who I am. People should be afraid of the radical left. Bill Ayers is a terrorist too, but that's okay because he's friends with Obama…

      • DawnPatrol says:

        STFU, you whiny, cowardly, sniveling little bitch. I wouldn't waste a calorie on a worthless, immoral, crybaby pissant like you.

        Besides, aren’t there whole armies of 5-year-old Syrian refugees you need to be trembling under your bed about? LMAO at you pantywaist losers.

        Dumbass whiner.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          I seldom resort to inflammatory rhetoric, but……..   Dawn Patrol: you're coming across like an uninformed and pompous ass.

          Maybe you save your anger for testifying down at the Legislature next month or in February when Tim Neville brings his ban-all-abortions bill back.   C.H.B.

        • mamajama55 says:

          I'm going to regret this.

          Dawn Patrol, please dial it back some. Calling Mods "Muddy Anus" is in fact sexualized violent rhetoric. And I haven't seen Carnegie post anything on this topic, although he is undoubtedly lurking.

          Colpols is not going to be PG rated anytime in my future. I'll never be able to share the content with students. (to answer a question Duke facetiously posed recently) .That's a loss I regret, not just because students won't be able to read any of my posts, but, because some of the smartest people I know post here.

          But the excesses of name calling and cursing, like yours, are why I won't be able to do that. I've been known to curse on here myself, and post adult references, so not judging. I like that Pols is an adult site.

          But perhaps you remember how toxic Huffington Post comments got before they went to "real names only" commenting. People would log on only to vent hatred at people with whom they disagreed. That was sick, and I'm glad they stopped allowing it.

          With all of the frustration, anger, and despair at the escalation of terrorist violence, everyone's heated. If we can't all join hands and sing Kumbayah, (which is also not in our near future), let's at least not make the partisan demonization  worse.

      • BlueCat says:

        No. That's insulting rhetoric. Show us where in this comment violence is being encouraged against you.

        You don't understand the consitution. You don't understand the concept of the gaurantee of freedom of speech. You don't understand the concept of independent thought. And you don't even understand the difference between an insult and a threat.

        Here's hoping you are now sufficiently disgusted with us for threatening you (not), advocating the denial of free speech (didn't), making fun of the disabled (never did) and all those other things you keep threatening (please) to leave us over and finally go away for good, much as your good friend Dio will miss you (he'll get over it).

      • Republican 36 says:

        So you’re admitting today what you've denied before: Irresponsible inflammatory rhetoric can incite violent action by other people. Thank you for that admission. The shooter/murderer in Colorado Springs will be held legally responsible but it sounds like you now agree that moral responsibility may include a good many other people who in the past have spewed violent anti-abortion rhetoric. Again, thank you for admitting it.

  4. Duke Cox says:

    You, Moderatus, are the embodiment of the reason the GOP is now writhing in the throes of self destruction. Your profound ignorance is exceeded only by your selfishness.

    You ARE responsible for the deaths of those people in Colorado Springs..You and everyone of your hateful brethren….The other tragedy is that we cannot arrest you and prosecute you as an accessory to murder.

    You disgust me…

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