Asked last week whether she thinks Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion family planning services, like consultation and exams related to birth control, should receive tax-payer funds, which she’s opposed in the past, Republican gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Coffman said my question required a long conversation another time, indicating that she may have changed her view on it.
If so, then her shift in thinking on the issue marks a radical departure from her history as a leader of the successful effort, under Colorado’s last Republican governor in 2001, to defund Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM).
The Planned Parenthood issue came up last month when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution’s ban on direct or indirect funding of abortion doesn’t preclude tax-payer funding of Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services.
Coffman’s work on defunding PPRM at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), where she served as the department’s Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, was featured in multiple court documents.
Those documents paint a picture of Coffman, who’s now Colorado’s attorney general, as the architect of the anti-Planned Parenthood legal opinion and, apparently, the person in charge of executing the policy.
Among other things, Coffman was featured in a 2001 CDPHE news release announcing that PPRM was losing its state money, she informed PPRM of the decision, and she issued statements explaining it.
In one document, Coffman, who went by the name of Cynthia Honssinger at the time, wrote that the decision to defund PPRM was a “common sense application of the facts.”
The Colorado Supreme Court took the opposite view last month, ruling that a ban on non-abortion services would lead to “absurd” results.
Why might Coffman be having a change of heart on Planned Parenthood?
By distancing herself from anti-choice leaders, such as Denver talk-radio host Dan Caplis, Coffman could be trying to appeal to unaffiliated voters who can now participate in June’s primary election and to general election voters, who will cast ballots in November, while wrapping herself in enough of a anti-abortion blanket to have a shot at winning the required 30 percent of votes at the Colorado Republican assembly in April and to appeal to anti-choice Republicans in the June primary–if she clears the assembly.
But Susan Sutherland, a spokeswoman for Colorado Right to Life, said her organization never considered Coffman to be anti-abortion.
“The words she speaks expose the blackness in her heart,” Sutherland said via email. “She would make a terrible governor as she has no desire to represent the people, considering the thousands of people she’s willing to have slaughtered on her watch.”
Sutherland’s comment points to Coffman’s problem winning over Republicans in the primary election, in view of the fact that she’s made both pro- and anti-abortion comments during her gubernatorial campaign: nearly half of Colorado GOP voters won’t even “consider” voting for a “pro-choice” candidate, according to a poll released yesterday by a Republican consulting firm in Colorado.
So, if you were Coffman, maybe you’d want to talk about about Planned Parenthood? Or maybe not.