Aug 25, 2013 5:29 PM by Andy Koen

Truth check: ad tries to shift recall focus from guns to abortion

COLORADO SPRINGS - A controversial new political ad is using the abortion issue to try and push gun rights off center stage in the recall election of Democratic State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron.

The ad, called "Suspect," was created by the Chicago firm Adelstein Liston and paid for by the 527 group We Can Do Better Colorado. It attacks the Republican challengers on the ballot, Bernie Herpin and George Rivera, for their pro-life positions.

The spot begins with a close up shot of a young woman's face, somber piano music and a female narrator who asks, "What would you call someone who supports a plan that bans common forms of birth control?"

The text on screen reads "Bernie Herpin & George Rivera" above larger font text that reads "BAN BIRTH CONTROL."

Below in the fine print reads "INITIATIVE #46 PETITION, 8.3.12, 2013 PIKES PEAK CITIZENS FOR LIFE QUESTIONNAIRE."

Extreme close ups of a black and white photo of George Rivera flash on the screen for a split second accompanied by sound effects.

Then another young woman is seen on screen as the narrator continues, "Interferes with our personal decisions?"

There are more flash frames and sound effects. This time the black and white photo is of Bernie Herpin.

A profile of a third young woman appears on screen as the narrator says, "Casts our healthcare choices as immoral?" This line is followed by flash frames of both Herpin and Rivera.

Next you see a close up of an emergency room door slide open. That shot dissolves into a dimly lit hospital hallway. The narrator says, "Someone who supports a plan that could even allow police to investigate miscarriages and question the grieving woman like a criminal?"

The on screen text again reads "George Rivera & Bernie Herpin" above larger font text that reads "POLICE INVESTIGATE MISCARRIAGES." The fine print below references articles in the Denver Post from August 9, 2012 and August 23, 2012.

The hospital hallway dissolves into a flashing red police light at the narrators words "question the grieving woman."

This claim is subjective. The Denver Post articles attribute "opponents" of personhood amendments for saying such a law would criminalize miscarriages.

A fact sheet provided by We Can Do Better to News 5 suggests Herpin and Rivera supported the failed personhood initiative Amendment 62 in 2010.

As proof, they point a questionnaire Herpin filled out while running for Colorado Springs City Council in 2010 where he indicated he believes we become persons at the single cell stage of development. Rivera actually signed a petition for a failed personhood initiative last year.

The language of Amendment 62 would have changed the legal definition of person to include fertilized embryos. Herpin denies ever supporting Amendment 62 and points to another answer in the same questionnaire in which he said he would not lead efforts to ban embryonic stem cell research.

The position is contradictory to his earlier answer because it suggests he wouldn't consider embryos used in stem cell research to be persons. He also points to an article printed in the Colorado Springs Independent in which he says, "the personhood issue has been decided by Colorado voters."

Pro-abortion groups believe the personhood philosophy of granting rights to fertilized embryos could criminalize miscarriages because the child would be considered a person. Pro-life groups say those are false arguments because there's no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to question the grieving woman.

Both arguments are speculative because no state has ever passed a personhood law, let alone had it challenged in court. That challenge could come soon now that the North Dakota state legislature referred a personhood question to the ballot this fall.

The Oklahoma State Supreme Court blocked a personhood question from being placed on the ballot last year on the grounds that the law violated precedent established in the 1992 US Supreme Court Case Planned Parenthood v Casey. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the Oklahoma court ruling.

The ad continues with a low angle shot of the Colorado State Capitol. Herpin and Rivera's names appear on screen with flashing question marks as the narrator says, "If the recall efforts succeed, we'll be calling them our state senators."

That's true, but ad leaves out last minute candidates Jan Brook, a Libertarian from Colorado Springs, and Richard Anglund, a Democrat from Pueblo. They too could become our state senators if they succeed in collecting enough signatures to petition on the ballot by Monday.

The ad concludes with the narrator commanding, "Say no to the recalls. Say no to George Rivera and Bernie Herpin." Darkened images of both Herpin and Rivera appear on screen with text that orders "SAY NO TO GEORGE RIVERA AND BERNIE HERPIN."


As a 527 group, We Can Do Better can openly support or oppose candidates. The group was created just three weeks ago by Jaramillo who is president of the union the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 1335 in Pueblo.

We won't know who is donating to the campaign until Tuesday when their first round of donor disclosure reports are due.



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