Attack on "Liberal Columnist" Spotlights Tragic Defeat of Family-Planning Legislation

06/18/2015 02:53 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016

Last month, The Nation magazine's Katha Pollitt reported that State Sen. Ellen Roberts was opposed to legislation providing funds Colorado's amazing pregnancy prevention program because Roberts believed that Obamacare already required insurance companies to pay for the long-acting-reversible contraption (LARC) offered under the family planning initiative.

"Republican Senator Ellen Roberts told me she might have supported the bill if she'd had a good answer for that," reported Pollitt.

In her column, Pollitt provided the widely-known fact that insurance companies are not currently paying for the services and care provided by the LARC program.

About a month later, The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reported that Roberts, who's a Republican from Durango, was unhappy with Politt's column:

Roberts said she should have been aware she was talking to a liberal columnist, and explained more clearly that she already had told GOP leaders if the bill made it to the Senate floor, she would support it.

If Roberts was opposed to the LARC bill because she thought Obamacare already covered the program, as reported by Pollitt, how could Roberts possibly have promised GOP leaders that she would support the bill if it came to the floor? No amount of clarifying to Pollitt could explain this inconsistency, whether Pollitt was radical communist or a hatchet-wielding or blackmailing Colorado Republican.

And, not that it matters, but Roberts had no excuse for failing to know that Pollitt is a progressive columnist. In an email prior to her interview with Roberts, Pollitt actually factually told Roberts she was with The Nation--and Pollitt says she has the email to prove it. Roberts had plenty of time to type the name "Katha Pollitt" in Google.

Pollitt told me via email: When I emailed Sen. Roberts I identified myself as a columnist with The Nation magazine. (I have the e mail.) If she didn't know we are a liberal publication -- and if she would have said something different had she known that -- she could easily have found out. It's not a secret!

I asked Pollitt if she quoted Roberts accurately and she politely responded with, "I quoted her accurately."

Plus, bottom line, after LARC funds were rejected by a Republican-controlled State Senate committee, Roberts voted against a Hail-Mary budget amendment funding the LARC program. It was defeated on the Colorado Senate floor in a 16-19 vote, with Roberts joining all Republicans and Sen. Pat Steadman, in opposition (Here at page 650). Steadman is a member of the Joint Budget Committee, and it's an unwritten rule that JBC members always vote against budget amendments. Roberts has supported such amendments in the past, meaning it's not her policy to oppose them.

So it loooks like Roberts was trying to be both for the LARC pregnancy-prevention program and against it at the same time, just like she recently tried to be both "pro-choice" and "never" pro-choice at the same time -- until she got called out on it by ColoradoPols, a progressive blog. Roberts, who may challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet next year, then said she'd made a mistake in claiming she was never pro-choice.

But the overarching tragedy is that funding for Colorado's LARC program, which helped reduce Colorado's teen-pregnancy rate by a life-affirming 40 percent and lowered our state's teen abortion rate by 35 percent, was rejected by State Senate Republicans.

Now, with LARC money running out at the end of this month, Roberts' flawed attack Pollitt only spotlights that tragedy.