Anti-Choice Groups Launch Dishonest Ads Against Colorado Pro-Choice Legislators

With Colorado’s pro-choice state senate majority in the balance in Tuesday’s election, anti-choice groups are attacking swing-district state senators with misleading and false ads.

With Colorado’s pro-choice state senate majority in the balance in tomorrow’s election, anti-abortion groups are attacking swing-district state senators with misleading and false ads. Shutterstock

Abortion rights advocates in Colorado are criticizing advertisements attacking state legislative candidates whose Election Day fate will determine whether Colorado’s State Senate retains its pro-choice majority.

Pro-choice Democrats in the Colorado Senate hold a 18-17 majority, and the ads are targeting a handful of state senators who represent swing districts.

After state lawmakers in 2012 passed gun-control legislation and a range of other laws, two pro-choice Democrats from competitive districts in Colorado Springs and Pueblo were recalled from the Colorado Senate, and replaced by Republicans, narrowing the Democrats’ majority to the single seat that it is today.

One mailed ad targets state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, who represents the suburban area around the Denver suburb of Westminster.

Paid for by the Colorado Campaign for Life, the mailer links Zenzinger to Kermit Gosnell, the rogue Pennsylvania abortion doctor convicted of murder.

“Rachel Zenzinger welcomes Gosnell to Colorado,” states the ad, with the text superimposed on a blood-splattered “Welcome” mat.

“Rachel Zenzinger’s law” would grant “safeguards for abortion mills like Planned Parenthood,” limit “women’s time frame for receiving damages due to botched abortions,” and define “unborn babies in the womb as non-persons,” according to the ad.

The 2014 law cited by the advertisement and passed by state lawmakers, including Zenzinger, would allow a woman who loses a pregnancy as a result of a reckless act, like being struck by a drunk driver, to seek civil penalties.

A 2013 law allowed prosecutors to bring criminal charges in such cases, but omitted civil penalties. Both laws specifically state that legal rights are not conferred to the fetus at any stage of development.

“It was a common-sense solution to a loophole in Colorado law that now protects pregnant women without restricting access to reproductive health care by establishing fetal ‘personhood,’ a notion that Colorado voters have overwhelmingly rejected two times in 2008 and 2010,” Cathy Alderman, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, the 501(c)(3) arm of the local Planned Parenthood Chapter, told Rewire via email.

Zenzinger, who faces anti-choice Republican Laura Woods, was appointed to her seat in November, 2013, when a recall campaign appeared poised to remove her Democratic predecessor, state Sen. Evie Hudak, from office.

A vacancy committee replaced the embattled Hudak, who resigned, with Zenzinger, allowing the Democrats to retain their one-seat state Senate majority.

Another ad, sponsored by the Centennial Coalition, accuses state Sen. Andy Kerr, who’s defending his contested seat in the Denver suburb of Lakewood against anti-choice Republican Tony Sanchez, of supporting sex-selective abortion.

The headline on the mailer reads, “Stand Up for Equality.” The accompanying text states, “Wherever you stand on abortion, we can all agree that having an abortion just because you don’t want a girl or boy is not OK.”

“Let’s remind Senator Andy Kerr that Coloradans cherish girls and boys equally, and we don’t support his extreme agenda,” states the ad.

A third mailer, paid for by Colorado Citizens for Accountable Government, was sent to constituents of state Sen. Kerry Donovan, who represents the central mountain towns. It asks, “Who thinks it’s acceptable to abort only a baby girl?”

“Kerry Donovan is so extreme that she not only thinks taxpayers should pay for abortions, she would allow them to be performed under any circumstances, including gender selection and late term abortions,” the ad states.

Both Donovan and Kerr voted against bills that attempted to ban so-called sex selective abortions—a popular measure pushed by some of the most extreme anti-choice policymakers across the country.

“Attempts to restrict or deny access to safe abortion under the guise of preventing race or gender bias is harmful to women’s health, counter to a human rights agenda, and primarily a political tactic of groups who work to make abortion illegal,” Alderman said. “These bills are nothing more than thinly-veiled attempt to shame women and threaten abortion providers.”

The Centennial Coalition was not listed on the Colorado’s campaign finance database, but Citizens for Accountable Government showed total expenditures this election cycle of $1.5 million.

The Colorado Campaign for Life, which also attacked moderate Republican candidates during the GOP primary, is facing a lawsuit from Colorado Ethics Watch for allegedly failing to file campaign finance reports, as required by Colorado law.

Emails seeking comment from all three groups were not returned.