Reporters should cover GOP news conference that didn’t happen

Republicans sitting on the State House’s Health Insurance and Environment Committee apparently didn’t hear the post-election groaning of Josh Penry, Rob Witwer and others as they begged Republicans to be more inclusive and tolerant.

They voted 6-5 (party line) today against killing a measure that would have banned nearly all abortions in Colorado, with no exception for a woman raped by her father, for example.

Reporters groping for evidence of a post-election move to the middle by Colorado Republicans should look elsewhere. In fact, this legislation shifts the Colorado GOP further to the right on abortion than it’s been in years.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Humphrey, was apparently the most restrictive anti-abortion legislation Colorado has seen since 2007, when Sen. Kent Lambert and Scott Renfroe sponsored a similar abortion ban modeled after a South Dakota measure. Doug Lamborn’s attempts to ban late-term abortion in the late 1990’s and early 00’s look moderate by comparison to Humphrey’s bill today.

Still, Republicans Conti, Humphrey, Joshi, Landgraf, and Stephens voted against killing Humphrey’s legislation, with Conti voting both ways by joining Democrats (McCann, Schafer, Fields, Ginal, Primavera, Young) in also voting against passage.

Reporters should track down Rep. Kathleen Conti and get her thinking on the measure, because voting both ways might constitute a more inclusive tack and be a sign of a both-ways moderation strategy that’s in the works.

As it is, in the absence of Republicans inside or outside the Capitol speaking out against the abortion ban, and with the party-line GOP support of the measure in committee, reporters have to wonder if there’s any real passion for change among Colorado Republicans, even among those advocating for it.

Why aren’t Penry and Witwer organizing a news conference, for example, denouncing Rep. Humphrey’s bill, crying out for GOP inclusiveness, and pointing to a poll just released by Project New America and Keating Research showing that 62 percent of Colorado voters agree that, ‘A woman should be allowed to have an abortion based on her personal values and her doctor’s advice.’

As it is, reporters should cover the absence of news conferences like that one.

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