Journalists should note that Personhood USA holds Coffman up as poster child for GOP’s future

Updated at 2:30 p.m. with a comment from Personhood USA


Given decisive role the abortion issue apparently plays in Colorado elections nowadays, local reporters should pay attention to a statement issued by Personhood USA Monday, showering praise on Rep. Mike Coffman for not backpedaling on his “100% pro-life” position during the last election.

Personhood spokesperson Jennifer Mason wrote that Coffman’s victory is proof that her organization’s (and Coffman’s) uncompromising stance against abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest, leads to Republican victories.

Mason slammed Sen. John McCain’s recent argument that the GOP should soften its stance on abortion in order to win future elections. She believes moderate Republicans are unelectable, and the socially conservative wing of the GOP is growing and represents the future of the Republican Party.

Mason wrote:

In Colorado, where the personhood movement began in 2008, voters shied away from Republican candidates who had flip flopped on the issue. These candidates, following the unproven John McCain formula of “backing away” on abortion issues, lost.

Congressman Mike Coffman, although he did not endorse any state amendments this year including personhood, maintained his 100% pro-life position (without compromising or denying the personhood of children) and won.

There is a lesson to be learned here. The old guard of the GOP is dying. Their moderate candidates are unelectable, their base is unmoved by their attempts to energize the left, and their foundation is crumbling.

There is a Civil War brewing in the GOP, and it’s not pretty. If McCain and his ilk are successful, we are looking at a major defection to a third party, and the ultimate death of the Republican party.

During the campaign, Coffman said he wasn’t “focused on social issues,” and he barely discussed abortion, other than to say he was against all abortion, except to save the life of the mother.

Coffman’s stated exception allowing for abortion, to save the life of the mother, is apparently acceptable to the personhood backers, who argue that if the life of a pregnant woman is in danger due to a pregnancy or for whatever reason, the doctor needs to realize that he or she is treating two patients, the woman and the fetus at whatever stage of development.

As then Vice President of Colorado Right to Life Leslie Hanks told me via email ealier this year:

“If mom’s life is in danger, the doctor has two patients & he should make every effort to save both.”

In other words, the doctor would have two patients in one body to care for.

It’s unclear to me, under a personhood law, how a doctor would decide between saving the fetus or the pregnant woman, if both could not be saved. Would he or she be a death panel of one? How long would the doctor continue treating both woman and fetus if it meant that both were more likely to die if the doctor didn’t make a choice between the two?

Coffman has never stated that he’d always save the woman’s life over the fetus’, just that abortion would be an allowable choice for the doctor to make.

So Coffman’s position, allowing for abortion to save the life of the mother, seems to be consistent with that of personhood backers.

Jennifer Mason said the issue whether to allow abortion to save the mother’s life is one of “semantics” and “splitting hairs.”

“Of course, you try to save the mother first,” she told me, “and then you try to save save the baby. We’re painted all the time as only caring about the baby. But there’s no purpose in that. If the mom dies, the baby dies too. Nobody wants that. We try to save both, but of course the mother’s life has to be prioritized.”

“There is no case where it’s medically necessary to kill the child to save the mother,” Mason said. The surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, she said, requires the removal of the “baby,” which doctors can then try to save. If it dies, this would be an “unintended consequence” and therefore not an abortion, she said.

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