Media omission: Fearing backlash, group apparently seeks stealth anti-abortion candidates

New polling shows that eighty percent of likely voters are pro-choice, in the sense that they are pro-letting-women-decide-if-they-want-to-have-an-abortion. But they don’t necessarily want to be labeled “pro-choice.”

And half of the people who call themselves “pro-life” are actually pro-choice, if you start digging into what they really think.

The poll, from Planned Parenthood, raises the question, what to do if you’re anti-abortion and you want to get elected?

Anti-abortion activists in Colorado have designed ways for anti-choice candidates to run for office and mobilize support from anti-abortion voters, without disclosing to the wider public what they really think about abortion.

Here’s how they’re doing this.

Colorado Right to Life blogs on whether federal and state candidates are “100 percent pro-life.” This year’s determination was based on a nine-question survey, which asked for yes-no responses to queries on personhood (which defines life as beginning at conception), state funding for abortion, and abortion regulations.

The survey isn’t normally made public by CRTL, but this year, Weld Country freshman Republican Rep. Stephen Humphrey, who’s sponsoring a bill banning most abortion in Colorado, including abortions for rape and incest, published the CRTL survey on his website.

In a cover letter to Humphrey accompanying the 2012 candidate survey, CRTL wrote:

We realize there are a few districts, even Democrat primaries, where a ‘pro-life’ label might keep a good candidate from being elected. If you feel this is one of those rare cases, please answer our survey but clearly indicate that you would prefer back-channel conversations only. We would then want to talk with you over the phone or in person, and we can work out together how you could best be helped.

If you are concerned you don’t know how to properly ‘message’ your pro-life views to voters, we have a veteran political communicator who will volunteer to help candidates in this area–just let us know.

This surprised me, I have to say, because, love them or hate them, the folks at Colorado Right to Life don’t seem to play politics much–or they don’t play politics very well. They’re motivated by their issue. They seem to tell their version of the truth, and take the political fallout.

But does the “back-channel” caveat mean Colorado Right to Life would lie on its blog about a candidate’s position on abortion, calling them, for example, supporters of Roe v. Wade when they are not?

If CRTL doesn’t lie about candidate positions, what does the phrase “work out together how you could best be helped” mean?

I tried to get a response from CRTL, but I was only able to reach former CRTL Vice President Leslie Hanks, who told me she was “utterly confidant that no he/we wouldn’t lie.”

But how does the “back channel” work? Hanks didn’t say, but Colorado Right to Life should explain it ASAP.

Otherwise, you can’t help but wonder: do we have stealth personhood supporters in our midst at the State Capitol? Secret Planned Parenthood haters? And when will they reveal who they really are?

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