You want a columnist to have an opinion but only if the facts supporting it are actual factual facts.
Pueblo Chieftain Managing Editor Steve Henson got the opinion part of the columnist’s job right on Sunday, but he dropped the ball when it came to the facts.
In his column, Henson asked if it should matter to Pueblo voters that Republican George Rivera, who’s running to replace Democrat Angela Giron in a recall election, opposes all abortion, even after rape or incest.
In explaining why abortion shouldn’t matter, Henson wrote:
First and foremost, the entire issue of where a candidate stands on abortion is irrelevant. The courts have controlled this issue for more than 40 years and that’s where the debate will end up in the future. Plus, no one state-elected official will have any control over what is a national issue.
Anyone who follows abortion issues knows that it’s actually factually false to say that no state lawmaker has any influence on abortion issues.
States across the country have passed a volume of laws restricting a women’s right to obtain an abortion. I mean, did Henson miss the drama in Texas just last month? The Guttmacher Institute has a handy dandy chart that Hansen might want to take a look at, summarizing the 9 categories of laws passed in each state.
One category, for example, is “state-mandated counseling.” The Guttmacher Institute chart states:
17 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (5 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (12 states) or long-term mental health consequences for the woman (8 states).
Waiting periods in nine states effectively require women to make two trips to a clinic prior to having an abortion. Some states mandate abortions to be performed by a licensed doctor at a hospital; states prohibit abortion at various stages; state laws restrict public funding and private insurance coverage of abortion; and states require different types of parental notification.
Whatever you think of these state laws, you’d have to agree that abortion is not irrelevant to voters anywhere, even in the far corners of Pueblo. (It’s relevant at the federal level, too.)
A phone message to Henson at the Chieftain was not immediately returned.
You can see on the Guttmacher chart that Colorado is less restrictive than many states when it comes to abortion laws, and the state Leg is controlled by pro-choice Democrats.
Still, the makeup of CO state government could easily change. So stuff like the five bills introduced during the last legislative session (HB-1032, 1033, 1131 and SB-55, 56), which would have restricted access to abortion services or banned all abortion, could become law in Colorado–as well as other restrictions passed in other states. (See Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado‘s legislative scorecared for more on this.)
Henson concluded his Sunday column with a pledge that the Chieftain would be cover the recall election fairly:
For our part, we are working very hard to present our coverage of this recall issue in a fair, balanced fashion.
I predict that will become much more difficult in the days ahead, but we want you to know that every story we do will be done with fairness to all candidates and all sides of the issues foremost in our planning, our writing and our published reports.
Henson could put substance behind this airy promise by explaining in a future column why abortion issues are, in fact, relevant to state lawmakers.
And why it matters that recall candidate Rivera is opposed to giving a girl, raped by her father, the option of having an abortion.