United against Udall on late abortions

The Colorado Statesman

Agroup of pro-life organizations headlined by former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave called on Colorado’s Democratic senators to back a bill that would restrict abortions at a rally on Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Musgrave, currently the vice president of government affairs for the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, urged Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, who is locked in a close race with Republican U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, to back the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed the House last year with Gardner’s support.

Former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of government affairs at the Susan B. Anthony List (second from left) and state Sens. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins await their turn at the microphone.

The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of rape and incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.

Joseph Martone stands with a Stop Abortion Now sign affixed to his walker.

“Sen. Udall is wrong,” Musgrave said. “He’s wrong on choosing not to protect children more than halfway through the pregnancy of their mother.”

Michael Norton of the Alliance Defending Freedom speaks at pro-life rally.

Musgrave’s organization is one of the sponsors of a four-state “Summer of Life” tour, recently launched in Colorado. The tour has rallies scheduled in North Carolina and Arkansas this week and a later appearance in Louisiana, all states with incumbent Democratic senators up for election this year. Other sponsoring organizations include Students for Life of America, Family Research Council Action and Concerned Women for America.

Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins speaks on the steps of the State Capitol. Behind her are former U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, vice president of government affairs at the Susan B. Anthony List, and state Sens. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins.
Photos by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman

Abortion has been a central theme in the Colorado Senate race, echoing the 2010 election when Bennet defeated Ken Buck with persistent attacks on the Republican nominee’s positions on reproductive rights. Soon after entering the race this spring, Gardner reversed his position on the state personhood amendment, which declares that life begins at conception, affording legal protections at that point. Gardner publicly came out in opposition to personhood, but he continues to sponsor federal legislation that, to some critics, says the same thing.

Musgrave charged that Senate leadership was refusing to allow the measure to come up for a vote because it would expose “how extreme” senators like Udall are on abortion questions, pointing to recent polling that shows a majority of Americans support restrictions on what she called late-term abortions.

A Gallup poll conducted last summer found that 58 percent of Americans favored some restrictions on abortions, although a more recent Gallup survey reported that 47 percent of adults described themselves as “pro-choice” and 46 percent described themselves as “pro-life,” maintaining a nearly even split found in polling since 2010. Other recent polling shows majorities of Americans would back restrictions on abortion after 20 weeks.

“Those children deserve protection,” Musgrave said, adding that, at five months’ gestation, “You can see the little child yawning, you can see the little child sucking its thumb, you can see the little child reacting to sound.”

She said she hopes Udall will “reconsider his extreme views on abortion.”

“He has been for abortion at any time during the pregnancy for any reason, funded by your tax dollars,” Musgrave said.

“Mark respects Colorado women and trusts them to make the right decisions for themselves and their families,” Udall campaign spokeswoman Kristin Lynch told The Colorado Statesman. “He believes these deeply personal decisions should be made by a woman with her family and her doctor, not politicians.”

Although Musgrave’s organization is involved “on the ground” in the three other states, she acknowledged that the Susan B. Anthony List is only targeting Udall via social media in Colorado.

Another speaker at the rally, state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, pointed out that “abortion as we know it began in this country” inside the Colorado State Capitol, when legislators passed a 1967 law – sponsored by then-state Rep. Dick Lamm, D-Denver, and signed by Republican Gov. John Love – allowing abortion in certain cases.

But that doesn’t mean the state is reliably in the pro-choice column, he told The Statesman.

Noting that Colorado voters later passed a constitutional ban on public funding for abortion, he said he believes “more and more people are understanding that human life applies before and after birth.”

The Udall-Gardner race, he contended, is coming down to the question, “Are you going to support life or are you going to support abortion? I believe the people of Colorado have that sense of justice.”

A one-time legislative colleague of Lundberg, former state Rep. Karen Middleton, D-Aurora, currently the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, begged to differ.

“All the event did yesterday was prove how out-of-touch these out-of-state groups are with Colorado voters,” Middleton told The Statesman on Wednesday. “Coloradans have said over and over again that personal, private medical decisions belong between a woman and her doctor, and no press conference will change that fundamental value.”

State Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, said before the rally that she is a strong proponent of the 20-week ban and would support legislation to that effect in Colorado.

“If that baby were not growing in the womb, it would not be alive,” she said. “It is a growing, living human being. It’s sad we seem to give more attention to the wildlife, and trying to preserve the longevity and life of a panda, more than we do our own children. I am a big advocate for that legislation, and I’m hoping that people take off the blinders and open their eyes to what it is.”

She said there’s no question in her mind whether an unborn child deserves protection.

“It was one of the greatest gifts I was ever given, to be able to know my son before he was born,” Marble said. “He was my son, he wasn’t a fetus or a glob of tissue, he was a living being that had the funniest personality I’d ever seen. I knew him, I loved him, and I’m so thankful that God has given me the best kids in the world.”

Ernest@coloradostatesman.com

See the August 29 print edition for full photo coverage.