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Editor’s note: This post was updated at 3:10 p.m. MT, Monday to include a comment from a Tipton spokesman:
Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, the congressman who represents the western two-thirds of Eagle County along with most of Colorado’s Western Slope and part of the southern Front Range, tweeted a mocking meme on the heated issue of abortion late Saturday – then promptly deleted the tweet.
The meme, captured and re-posted below, shows female protestors with the caption “We want government controlled healthcare!” Then below that the meme reads, “*State government Bans abortions*”, followed by a picture of a surprised Pikachu – the popular Pokémon character.
The meme is an apparent reference to the recent wave of state laws, starting in Alabama, that seek to ban abortion to varying degrees. In the case of the Alabama law, which will likely be vigorously challenged by women’s reproductive rights and pro-choice groups, the ban would apply to victims of rape and incest and cases where the mother’s health is at risk.
Issued via his official congressional Twitter account, the tweet would seem to run counter to Tipton’s previous position of supporting abortion in cases of rape, incest or health of the mother. Tipton in the past has voted for a federal abortion ban beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy.
A spokeswoman for Tipton did not return an email from RealVail.com on Sunday seeking clarification on the congressman’s tweet. On Monday, Tipton spokesman Matthew Atwood offered this explanation:
“The tweet was mistakenly sent out by a staffer who helps manage the account,” Atwood said in an email. “It was never viewed or vetted by Congressman Tipton prior to being posted and does not reflect Congressman Tipton’s position or work on healthcare issues.”
Polling shows the majority of Americans (50 percent) feel abortion should be legal under certain circumstances, with nearly 30 percent saying abortion should be legal under any circumstances, and just 18 percent saying abortion should never be legal under any circumstances.
If Tipton in any way backs Alabama’s new law, that puts the Cortez businessman in a very small minority. And in Colorado, voters have repeatedly rejected so-called “Personhood” amendments seeking to define life as starting with “the beginning of the biological development” of a human being – in other words, the fertilized egg as a person.
Such extreme views have been overwhelmingly defeated at the ballot box in Colorado, where the issue of abortion – and more importantly women’s reproductive rights and the ability to choose how to handle very personal health care decisions – became a key factor in the state’s U.S. Senate race in 2014.
Incumbent Sen. Mark Udall took a great deal of heat for focusing intensely on protecting a woman’s right to choose – earning the mocking nickname of Mark “Uterus”. The Democrat narrowly lost to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who changed his previous support for the Personhood amendments in order to defeat Udall.
“I’m pro-life, but that’s up to the states,” Gardner said recently of the Alabama ban. Gardner has backed both of President Donald Trump’s conservative picks for the U.S. Supreme Court, which could ultimately decide to overturn the landmark 1973 abortion case, Roe v. Wade, which rejected state law attempting to ban abortions.
As for Tipton, Democratic state Rep. Dylan Roberts — who represents the district including Eagle County that was vacated by Diane Mitsch Bush so she could unsuccessfully challenge Tipton last year – tweeted his disapproval of Tipton’s tweet on Sunday.
Roberts tweeted: “This was the really lame and offensive meme the Congressman has now deleted:”