Gazette uncritically reported Republican lawmaker's baseless claim: "The people are more pro[-]life than pro-abortion"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

In reporting on a proposed Republican-backed measure that would ban nearly all abortions in Colorado, The Gazette of Colorado Springs did not challenge a claim by state Rep. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) that "[t]he people are more pro[-]life than pro-abortion." The most recent polls indicate that, in fact, more Colorado voters would oppose a ban on abortion.

In a January 23 article about proposed Republican-sponsored legislation that would ban almost all abortions in Colorado, The Gazette of Colorado Springs uncritically quoted state Rep. Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) as saying, "The people are more pro[-]life than pro-abortion." In fact, according to the most recent polls, more Coloradans would oppose, rather than support, a ban on abortion.

As The Gazette reported, "Several GOP legislators ... on Monday announced plans to introduce a bill banning all abortions except those necessary to save the life of a mother." The article continued, "A news conference, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case in the U.S. Supreme Court, was one way to draw attention to a bill unlikely to get a floor vote in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly." The Gazette also noted that the Colorado legislation would be similar to a "bill enacted by the South Dakota Legislature in 2005 [that] was overturned in a referendum last fall."

"The sponsors of the Colorado bill said Colorado voters might support a tough abortion law," according to the Gazette article, which quoted Lundberg as saying that "[t]he people are more pro[-]life than pro-abortion" and noted that State Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch) "agreed" with Lundberg's statement.

However, the most recent polls on the issue of abortion show that more Colorado voters would oppose a ban on abortion than would support it. As The Denver Post reported in an August 10, 2006, article about the decision to pull a late-term abortion ban off the November ballot, a Post poll in February 2006 "found 51 percent of voters would oppose the measure, with 35 percent in support of it." Furthermore, a Rasmussen poll -- also taken in February 2006 -- found that "[i]n Colorado, 54% oppose a ban on abortion similar to the one passed recently in South Dakota." On November 7, South Dakotans voted 56 percent to 44 percent to overturn the ban.

A more recent poll of Colorado voters released November 1 by Ciruli Associates found that "Colorado is a majority pro-choice state" with "[s]lightly over half the electorate (56%) [] either strongly pro-choice or pro-choice with few restrictions."

Nationally, recent polls suggest that a majority of Americans would likely oppose such a ban on abortion:

  • A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted January 19-21 found that 62 percent of Americans would not "like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe versus Wade decision concerning abortion," compared with 29 percent who would. The poll's margin of error was 3 percentage points.
  • A CBS News poll conducted January 18-21 reported that only 17 percent of Americans think abortion should either never be permitted or permitted only "to save the woman's life." Thirty-one percent thought abortion should be permitted in all cases, and 30 percent thought it should permitted in the cases of "rape, incest, and to save the woman's life." The poll had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
  • According to a Newsweek poll conducted October 26-27, 2006, 53 percent of those polled "sympathize" with "the pro-choice movement" and 39 percent sympathize with "the right-to-life movement." The poll's margin of error was 3 percentage points.
  • More specifically, a CNN poll conducted August 30-September 2, 2006, found that 51 percent of Americans would "oppose a law in [their] state that would ban all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother"; 45 percent said they would favor such a ban. The poll's half sample margin of error was 4.5 percentage points.

As Colorado Media Matters has noted, Lundberg in 2006 backed a proposed ballot initiative that would amend the Colorado Constitution to prohibit the state from creating domestic partnerships "similar to that of marriage." That initiative, which failed to gather enough signatures to gain a spot on the November ballot, was an attempt to trump Referendum I, which the Colorado legislature placed on the ballot. Ref. I would have allowed same-sex couples to be registered by the state and entitled them to certain benefits and rights.

From the January 23 Gazette of Colorado Springs article by Hank Lacey, "GOP lawmakers will introduce bill prohibiting most abortions":

Several GOP legislators, including a pair from Colorado Springs, on Monday announced plans to introduce a bill banning all abortions except those necessary to save the life of a mother.

A news conference, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case in the U.S. Supreme Court, was one way to draw attention to a bill unlikely to get a floor vote in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

"The issue of human life and its protection should be considered a matter of morality and ethics high above the partisan struggle," said Sen. Dave Schultheis, R-Colorado Springs.

[...]

A similar bill enacted by the South Dakota Legislature in 2005 was overturned in a referendum last fall.

The sponsors of the Colorado bill said Colorado voters might support a tough abortion law.

"The people are more prolife than pro-abortion," Rep. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said. Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, agreed. "With the right campaign we could get it passed," Harvey said.

The Supreme Court is considering a case challenging the constitutionality of a federal law prohibiting partial-birth abortions. A decision is expected by July.

Schultheis urged Gov. Bill Ritter to support the bill. "We need to make sure the Colorado Promise extends to the unborn," Schultheis said, alluding to the catchphrase from Ritter's campaign.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.