Colbert skewers Gardner’s personhood falsehood

October 14th, 2014

Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert skewered Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s crazy falsehood that there is “no federal personhood bill,” starting at the four-minute-twenty-second mark in the video below.

Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols is featured in the segment. He, along with other local journalists (e.g., 9News’ Brandon Rittiman, Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus, Grand Junction Sentinel Charles Ashby, CBS4′s Shaun Boyd), have done the right thing journalism-wise in trying to hold Gardner accountable and to expose the brazen falsehoods that he’s been repeating about the Life at Conception Act.

And proving that you never know where personhood media-criticism will get you, look really closely at the five-minute-and-three-second mark, and you’ll see a Denver Post op-ed by yours truly flash across the screen!

In any case, Colbert’s video speaks for itself.

Media omission: Gardner knew about birth control ban, says pro-personhood group

October 13th, 2014

Colorado Senatorial Candidate Cory Gardner withdrew his support from state personhood amendments because, he told The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, he didn’t understand that the measures would ban birth control.

Everyone rolled their eyes and moved on, as if to say,”It’s obvious he’s gunning for female votes statewide, so who cares if he might be lying.”

To their credit, reporters cited Gardner’s legislation that would have banned birth control, but, given Gardner’s in-bedness with personhood supporters throughout his political career, you’d think we’d have seen more about what Gardner really knew and when he knew it.

Now, with ballots arriving in your mailbox (Yeah!)  this week, comes a blog post from Colorado Right to Life, which was a major backer of personhood efforts in Colorado, stating, yes, Gardner knew all along about the birth control ban.

Colorado Right to Life: As you probably heard, Cory Gardner announced publicly that he no longer supports Personhood. He apologized for ever supporting it. He said he was well-meaning, but it was a mistake.

Of course the reason he gave for not supporting Personhood — that it would ban “contraceptives” — is completely false, and is a propaganda claim of NARAL and Planned Parenthood that is often repeated by the media.

Cory Gardner has attended briefings on Personhood by CRTL where this was discussed — Cory should KNOW better! But since he knew it was a false statement and he made it anyway, we can only conclude he has made a cynical choice to give up on principles so he would be more attractive to moderate voters.

As Bob Beauprez reminded us, personhood backers oppose birth control, like IUDs and Plan B, which they say threated or destroy zygotes (or fertilized eggs).

I get into this in more detail in a post this morning on RH Reality Check, but I reached out to Colorado Right to Life for more details on Gardner’s briefings and got no response.

Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told me via email that, when Gardner was in the state legislature, Colorado Right to Life gave legislative briefings “detailing the effects of the amendment.”

“I would assume that he attended, given his position at that time, but I couldn’t guarantee anything,” she wrote.

Media omission: In August, Gardner campaign said it backed personhood proposals to ban abortion, not as statement of principle

October 12th, 2014

UPDATE Oct. 13, 2014: In response to a follow-up question yesterday, Robertson emailed me that the Gardner campaign did not seek a correction or clarification of an August Factcheck.org story, even though the piece makes it appear as if Gardner supported a federal personhood law as a means to ban abortion. Robertson wrote:

“I didn’t specifically ask about the federal bill – again, at the time, he and the campaign weren’t saying that the federal bill wasn’t a personhood measure. I asked about past personhood proposals, in general. I then asked a separate question about whether he was still supporting the federal bill, and the answer was that he was and that, as we say in the article, the federal bill would make ‘no change to contraception laws.’

The campaign did not seek a correction or contact us at all after the article ran.

—————-

Before his recent false claims that federal personhood legislation “simply” is a toothless statement of his belief in “life,” Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s campaign told Factcheck.org that the candidate backed personhood proposals in order to ban abortion.

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is now saying, incorrectly, that the federal personhood legislation he cosponsored in Congress is “simply a statement that I believe in life.”

But his campaign told FactCheck.org in August that Gardner backed both state and federal “personhood” measures in an effort to ban abortion, not as a statement of principle.

Factcheck.org’s Lori Robertson reported Aug. 15 that “Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception.”

Robertson reported:

Gardner is on record since 2006 supporting so-called personhood measures at the state and federal level. These bills and ballot initiatives generally said the rights afforded to a person would begin at the moment a human egg is fertilized. The federal bill would impact the definition of a person under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while the state measure would obviously affect only Colorado law.

Gardner’s campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception. But, as we’ll explain, the wording of these measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn’t be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women.

In response to an email asking whether the “proposals” cited in her reporting included federal as well as state personhood measures, Robertson wrote, “Yes, it was a general question, whether he supported past personhood proposals as a means to ban abortion, and the campaign’s answer was yes.”

Robinson noted that “this was of course before the recent interviews in which Rep. Gardner has said the federal bill isn’t a personhood measure.”

So before Gardner said the federal personhood bill is “simply a statement” with no legislative teeth, his campaign stated that the candidate had backed past personhood measures in an effort to ban abortion.

The Gardner campaign’s response to Factcheck.org appears to be the closest thing to a factual statement about the Life at Conception Act that Gardner and his spokespeople have provided to reporters during his senatorial election campaign. The proposed law would actually ban not only abortion but common forms of birth control.

When the Gardner campaign uses the word “abortion,” it may actually be referring to birth control as well. If Gardner, like Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, believes that IUDs cause abortions, then Gardner’s aim to use the federal personhood bill as a means to ban “abortion” would include a ban on birth control methods, such as IUDs or Plan B, which Gardner opposed as a Colorado State legislator.

Gardner’s office did not return an email seeking clarification on this matter and others.

There is evidence that Gardner, like Beauprez, believes Plan B and other forms of birth control cause “abortioins.” Gardner voted against the 2009 Birth Control Protection Act, which defined “contraception,” without exceptions, as a device to protect against pregnancy, defined as beginning after implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall.

The Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, Sen. Rand Paul Kentucky, who’s scheduled to visit Denver for a conference later this month, argues that his legislation will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Media omission: It’s ironic, in light of Gardner’s Post endorsement, to recall that Gardner’s extremism extends to his view of journalism itself

October 11th, 2014

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, like much of the political right, sees himself as a victim of liberal media bias. On a day when he was endorsed by The Denver Post, and Gardner is tweeting about how “honored and humbled” he is, I thought I’d point back to a few of the many times he’s trashed the news media with sweeping, unsupported accusations of bias that serve only to accelerate the decline of professional journalism.

In 2011, Gardner told Grassroots Radio Colorado:

Gardner: “The press likes to blame the Tea Party for a lot of things, because there’s a bias in the media against people who believe in smaller government.”

Worley: “You mean people like us.”

Gardner: “People like us.”

In January of last year, Gardner said:

Gardner: “Look, the media is going to criticize the Republicans every time we turn around, because we are not in lock-step with the President.”

After Romney’s self-inflicted election loss in 2012, Gardner blamed the media:

Gardner: “When the American people were watching the news with their family at the dinner table, they saw a media that is gung-ho for the President. So not only were we running an election against the President of the United States, we were running an election against TV stations around the country and inside people’s living rooms.”

Some progressives are so angry at The Post for its Gardner endorsement that they’re threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

By doing this, and forsaking the last gasps of Denver’s by-far best news source to survive, we’d reduce ourselves to Gardner’s own level of extremism that, for some reason, The Denver Post failed to see in Gardner across the spectrum of issues from global warming and immigration to abortion and journalism itself–and beyond.

Media omission: Rand Paul’s upcoming visit to Denver is Gardner’s chance to learn about federal personhood legislation he says doesn’t exist

October 10th, 2014

Senatorial candidate Cory Gardner can learn about federal personhood legislation, which he falsely claims does not exist, when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky visits Denver later this month.

Paul is the sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which is a federal personhood bill that mandates the same bans on abortion and contraception as Colorado’s personhood measures, which Gardner disavowed in March.

Gardner co-sponsored the House version of the Life at Conception Act last summer, but has recently denied the existence of the legislation, saying repeatedly that there is no federal persononhood bill.“ 

Paul, who argues that the Life at Conception Act would overturn Roe v. Wade, will be in Denver for a gathering on Oct. 23 and 24, sponsored by the “Colorado Renewal Project,” called “Rediscovering God in America,” with “Special Guests Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Congressman James Lankford, and [talk-radio-host] Dennis Prager].”

During a Denver-Post sponsored debate Tuesday, Gardner’s opponent, Sen. Mark Udall, asked Gardner directly if he’d co-sponsor the Senate version of the “Life at Conception Act,” if Gardner were elected.

“Again, the bill in the House is a statement that I support life,” replied Gardner. “I have not seen the bill in the Senate. Believe it or not, not everybody in the House reads bills in the Senate that have only been introduced and not heard by committee.”

Paul’s Senate version of the Life at Conception Act is essentially identical to the House version of the bill cosponsored by Gardner. Paul explains here how the Life at Conception Act is part “bold and aggressive campaign to end abortion on demand.”

The “Rediscovering God in America” event is referred to as a “Pastors’ Policy Briefing,” so it appears it will cover abortion policy, as well as prominent anti-abortion legislation, such as the Life at Conception Act, which is among the most popular anti-abortion measures in Congress with 131 co-sponsors like Gardner.

It appears that another “Rediscovering God in America” event was held in Denver in 2008, sponsored in part by Colorado for Family Values, which has ties Colorado’s failed personhood initiatives via Colorado Republican operatives Mark and Jon Hotaling, according to an article in the Daily Kos.

The Daily Kos article also identifies another sponsor of the 2008 event as the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado, which praised Gardner during his first run for Congress for supporting personhood initiatives and for favoring the posting of the 10 Commandments in public buildings.

Other speakers include Former Congressman Bob McEwen, Pastor Ken Graves, Pastor Jason Taylor, Dr. Don Wildmon, Gail McWilliams, and others.

The event will take place at the Westin Westminster starting at 3 p.m. Oct. 23 and closing at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 24. The intended audience appears to be pastors and church leadership.

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza wrote this week about the liabilities of Rand Paul’s support for federal personhood. She cited the heat Gardner has taken on personhood as portending trouble for Paul.

Paul has said, “The same judges who wrote Roe v. Wade actually admitted this. Of course, science has long held that life begins at conception. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Life at Conception Act, which — by legally defining that life begins at conception, — would simply bring the legal definition of ‘life’ in line with the biological definition, in effect overturning Roe v. Wade.”

Media omission: This year’s personhood amendment targets pregnant woman unlike any existing law in CO and nationally

October 8th, 2014

Opponents of Colorado’s latest Personhood initiative, Amendment 67, claim, in media reports, that their measure isn’t about banning abortion.

Multiple reporters have pushed back, pointing out that the Personhood-USA-backed initiative is actually another iteration of failed personhood amendments, aimed at outlawing all abortion and common forms of birth control.

But local reporting hasn’t explained in sufficient detail that this year’s amendment is unique not only in Colorado but nationally in subjecting pregnant women to harassment and prosecution from law enforcement officials.

Under Amendment 67, pregnant women could face arrest for everything from choosing abortion to driving without wearing a seat belt, as explained to me by Lynn Paltrow, director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, who was in Colorado last month to campaign against Amendment 67.

Paltrow presented a series of slides during a presentation with the text of common criminal statutes in Colorado: murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment.

She replaced the words “person” or “child” with “unborn human being.”

For example, you commit murder in Colorado if you intend “to cause the death of another person.” If “person” becomes “unborn child,” then abortion becomes murder, Paltrow said.

Paltrow showed a slide of Colorado’s child abuse statute, inserted “unborn human being” into the statute’s wording, and explained how the law, as changed under Amendment 67, could be used to investigate, prosecute, and arrest a pregnant women believed to have put her “unborn child” at risk.

“What they are asking the citizens of Colorado to do is put in place a set of laws that begins by saying, ‘We believe a woman who has an abortion is guilty of first degree murder and deserves either life in prison or the death penalty.’ There are no exceptions.”

“Anything that a woman does that someone later believes she shouldn’t have done becomes evidence of recklessness,” she continued. “Standing on a ladder. Painting your nursery at six-months pregnant and falling off. Skiing while pregnant. Driving without wearing a seat belt. Not obeying a doctor’s advice to get bed rest. Child abuse becomes fertilized-egg abuse.”

Paltrow, who goes into more detail about Amendment 67 here, says she sympathizes with Heather Surovic, a proponent of the measure, who was eight-months pregnant when a drunk driver slammed into her car. She lost her unborn child, which she’d named “Brady.”

“The irony is, if this amendment in Brady’s memory succeeded, what Brady’s memory would really be doing is creating a law that could have had his mother arrested even if she’d done absolutely nothing wrong or reckless,” said Paltrow, citing a New York case in which a pregnant woman was convicted of manslaughter of her own child after being in a car accident. “What the Brady Amendment would do is make mothers absolutely vulnerable to arrest themselves.”

Reporters try but fail to get truth from Gardner on Federal “personhood” bill

October 8th, 2014

In an article this morning, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols reports that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner shifted last night from repeatedly saying to multiple reporters (as documented in the video above) that there is “no federal personhood bill” to saying, repeatedly, that it’s “simply a statement.”

Stokols writes:

“The federal act that you are referring to is simply a statement that I believe in life,” Gardner said when asked about the Life Begins at Conception Act by Lynn Bartels.

When Udall repeatedly went back to the issue, Gardner stuck to script, repeating his line that his co-sponsorship of the measure is “simply a statement that I support life.”

Gardner also attempted to separate the House Life at Conception Act, which he signed on as a co-sponsor to last summer, from the nearly identical Senate version, which he claimed not to have seen, and dismissed the notion, pushed by Udall’s campaign, that the legislation could result in banning some forms of birth control.

In countering this nonsense from Gardner, Stokols cites an appeal from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, explaining that “by legally defining that life begins at conception, — would simply bring the legal definition of “life” in line with the biological definition… in effect overturning Roe v. Wade.”

Here’s the audio of Paul’s brutally honest statement of support for the Life at Conception Act.

And here’s a transcript of Paul’s entire statement:

Hello. This is Senator Rand Paul. Will you help me in a bold and aggressive campaign to end abortion-on-demand– once and for all?

Since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, nine unelected men and women on the Supreme Court have played got with innocent human life. They have invented laws that condemned more than 56 million babies to painful deaths without trial…merely for the crime of being “inconvenient.”

But the good news is Congress has the power to legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade and end all abortion-on-demand.

You see, when the Supreme Court invented the so-called “right” to an abortion, they left an opening for us in Congress to act on the question of when life begins. In Roe v. Wade, the Court ruled: We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins … the judiciary at this point in the development of man’s knowledge is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.”

The Court then admitted that if the personhood of an unborn baby is established, the right to abort, “collapses, for the fetus’ right to live is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Aendment …”

Now what the Court was saying, if you look through the all the legal mumbo jumbo, is that we in Congress have the POWER to legally define when life begins.

The same judges who wrote Roe v. Wade actually admitted this. Of course, science has long held that life begins at conception.

That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Life at Conception Act, which — by legally defining that life begins at conception, — would simply bring the legal definition of “life” in line with the biological definition… in effect overturning Roe v. Wade.

That’s why I hope I can count on you to sign special petitions for both your Senators and your Congressman. And, if at all possible, I hope I can count on you to make a generous contribution of $50 to the National Pro-Life Alliance’s campaign to pass a Life at Conception Act and overturn Roe v. Wade.

Your generous contribution of $50 or more will help pay for collecting petitions from up to one million Americans … and for briefing hundreds of newspaper columnists, editorial writers, and talk radio hosts. The fact is, with enough pressure from dedicated pro-lifers on Members of Congress from both parties, you and I can force every member elected as a pro-lifer to either end the slaughter now … or face angry voters back home.

I have to tell you from my perspective as a pro-lifer in Congress that every pro-lifer’s activism is essential in our fight against abortion-on-demand. But I have especially come to appreciate the members of National Pro-life Alliance. Their members nationwide are perhaps the most active and focused on the ultimate vision of eliminating abortion-on-demand — not just regulating it.

In fact, it is primarily because of National Pro-life Alliance members that the Life at Conception Act has an all-time record number of House and Senate sponsors. That’s why I hope you will go all out to support their efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade by passing a Life at Conception Act.

You see, their goal over the next 60 days is to add as many additional cosponsors as possible and then to force roll call votes in both the House and Senate.

Your generous contribution will then also help pay for hard-hitting radio, TV, and newspaper advertising which the National Pro-Life Alliance is committed to run in target states.

By forcing roll call votes, wavering politicians will have to either vote to protect the innocent — or face hundreds of thousands of angry voters back home. If you can help, just bring public opinion to bear on my colleagues in Congress, I’m convinced that we can get this bill to the forefront of the American debate — and ultimately outlaw abortion once and for all.

That’s why it’s vital you sign the petitions I mentioned at once. And please, make this massive advertising and petition drive possible by sending a special contribution to the National Pro-life Alliance.
[Please sign the petition below in support of the Life at Conception Act.]

Laura Woods’ anti-freedom stance on personhood turns off libertarian blogger

October 8th, 2014

If you don’t know about Ari Armstrong’s “Defend Liberty Always” blog, you should take a look at it. In this post, Armstrong, who’s a detail-oriented, deep-thinking libertarian, explains why he can’t vote for state senate candidate Laura Woods.

I confess that I tried not to look too closely at the Republican candidate for my Colorado senate district (number 19), Laura Woods, because I was afraid of what I might find. After gleefully witnessing the fall of Evie Hudack following her reckless, Bloomberg-inspired campaign against peaceable gun owners (after which Democrats replaced her with Rachel Zenzinger, now the Democratic candidate), I really wanted the seat to turn Republican.

After the fiascos of ObamaCare (implications of which played out in the state legislature), the Democrats’ persecution of gun owners, the Democrats’ war on energy producers and consumers, and other matters, this would have been an excellent year for the GOP to punish the Democrats and win back some seats. But, Republicans being Republicans (aka “The Stupid Party”), Republicans in my district nominated a candidate I cannot possible vote for.

Thus, just a couple of weeks after announcing I planned to vote a straight-Republican ticket, I now have to make an exception and declare that I cannot and will not vote for Laura Woods. The basic problem is that Woods enthusiastically endorses total abortion bans, including the insane and horrific “personhood” measure on the ballot this year.

Armstrong writes frequently and thoughtfully about how personhood amendments would violate the basic freedoms a women should have in America. Woods went too far down the personhood path for Armstrong.

And if other self-identifying libertarian pundits in town, like the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara, are going to be consistent, they should agree with Armstrong.

Will the primary dance on gay marriage end for candidates like Sanchez?

October 7th, 2014

A familiar pattern among GOP candidates in Colorado has been to openly oppose gay-marriage during primary season and then try to sweep such positions away for the general election.

You have to doubt that this week’s developments on gay marriage will change this dance, as exemplified by >GOP state senate candidate Tony Sanchez.

Sanchez came out strong against same-sex marriage prior to his unexpected primary victory in June, stating on his campaign website at the time:

Sanchez: “I will protect the lives of the most vulnerable, defend traditional marriage, and protect your right for personal/religious liberty.”

But shortly after his primary win, the “Pro-life, Pro-family, Pro-liberty” section of his website, including his promise to “defend traditional marriage” vanished completely, in an apparent makeover move for Jeffco voters.

The cleaning up of his website apparently hasn’t done much to help Sanchez raise money. Sanchez and fellow Rocky-Mountain-Gun-Owner-backed candidate Laura Woods are lagging way behind their non-RMGO-backed GOP counterparts from the 2012 election cycle.

Sanchez and Woods are running in swing Jeffco state Senate districts that Republicans had hoped might flip the state senate over to the GOP.

Here is a comparison, from campaign finance reports, of Sanchez’  fundraising totals in 2014 (vs. Summers’ in 2012) to Laura Woods’  fundraising totals in 2014 (vs. Sias’ in 2012):

Ken Summers (SD 22 candidate in 2012)

Total raised (full cycle): $ 130,000

Cash-on-hand (Oct. 1) : $ 80,000

Tony Sanchez (SD 22 candidate in 2014)

Total Rasied (Oct. 1) $ 69,000

Cash on hand (Oct. 1): $ 19,000

Lang Sias (SD 19 Candidate in 2012)

Total raised (full cycle): $ 123,000

Cash on hand (Oct. 1): $ 74,000

Laura Woods (SD 19 Candidate in 2014)

Total Raised (Oct. 1): $ 99,000

Cash on hand (Oct. 1): $ 27,000

 

 

Question of the Week: What does Beauprez think the federal personhood bill, which he’s co-sponsored, would do?

October 6th, 2014

Reporters looking for another source to counter senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s contention that “there is no federal personhood bill” can turn to gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who cosponsored federal personhood legislation and acknowledges his own support for it.

And while he’s talking, Beauprez should explain what he thinks his federal personhood bill would do.

Both Gardner and Beauprez do not favor state personhood amendments, even though both candidates cosponsored federal personhood legislation, which would expand the definition of a person in the U.S. Constitution to include the unborn, beginning at the zygote or fertilized egg stage, and thereby banning all abortion and common forms of birth control.

Gardner’s bill is called the 2013 Life at Conception Act. Beauprez’s is the 2006 Right to Life Act. The two bills are essentially the same.

But unlike Gardner, Beauprez thinks federal personhood legislation exists, and his problem, he says, is with state personhood amendments, not the federal bill.

In March, 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman clarified a previous 9News piece, which quoted Beauprez as saying he never supported personhood.

Rittiman asked Beauprez about his support of the Right To Life Act, a federal personhood bill, and Rittiman reported:

Rittiman: “Beauprez has certainly supported the concept of personhood in the form of federal legislation. He says his answer to 9NEWS was meant to convey that he has not supported it at the state level.”

Close Beauprez observers will note that the former congressman is careful, when he talks about his opposition to “personhood,” to focus on the state amendments, while staying silent on federal personhood legislation.

Look, for example, at what Beauprez said in Thursday’s debate in Pueblo:

Beauprez: “I’m opposed to the personhood amendment. I’ll tell you what I’m in favor of.  I’m in favor of innocent lives.”

In coverage of the debate, The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch did the right thing journalistically and informed readers of Beauprez’s support of the 2006 federal personhood bill.

Beauprez’s reference to “personhood amendment” Thursday comports with what he told Rittiman back in June:

Beauprez: “The personhood amendment, and that’s where we have to draw the line, the personhood amendment might have identified the right issue but the very wrong solution.”

Bottom line for reporters: Beauprez hasn’t explained why he still supports federal personhood legislation, even though he’s not on board with state personhood efforts. I’m curious to know what Beauprez thinks the federal personhood bill he co-sponsored would do, if passed, and why he backs it over state personhood.

Beauprez’s thoughts on why Gardner thinks “there is no federal personhood bill” would be of interest to those of us trying to understand Gardner’s mysterious personhood hypocrisy.