DENVER — Cory Gardner’s announcement late Friday afternoon that he no longer supports personhood was a response to weeks of Democratic attacks on the issue, an obvious shift toward the political center.
“This was a bad idea driven by good intentions,” Gardner told the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels, explaining that he reversed course after learning that personhood, which would outlaw abortion, would also ban some forms of contraception.
“I was not right. I can’t support personhood now. I can’t support personhood going forward. To do it again would be a mistake.”
But the attacks haven’t stopped — they’ve intensified.
On Monday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign responded to Gardner’s allegation to the Denver Post that the Udall team was”distorting his record” on the issue by pointing to the lawmaker’s record itself, noting that the Republican has co-sponsored legislation to ban abortion without exceptions for rape and incest as a member of the Colorado legislature and the U.S. Congress.
“Once again, Congressman Gardner is trying to run from his long record of turning his back on Colorado women,” the Udall campaign said in a press release. “Despite Gardner’s crocodile tears, the fact remains that the 2007 Colorado abortion ban that bears his name banned abortion even in cases of rape and incest.”
“And for the past two years Gardner cosponsored the Life at Conception Act, which would ban abortions even in cases of rape and incest, and outlaw common forms of birth control. The only person not being honest with Colorado voters is Cory Gardner.”
In 2007, Gardner, then a state representative, sponsored SB 143, which sought to outlaw all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”
And in 2012 and 2013 as a member of Congress, Gardner supported The Life Begins at Conception Act, a federal attempt to establish personhood.
Udall’s campaign also continued to try to tie Gardner to Ken Buck, the former U.S. Senate hopeful who dropped out when Gardner entered the race last month and is now seeking Gardner’s 4th Congressional District seat.
In another release sent out Monday morning, Udall’s campaign argued that “Gardner is following in Ken Buck’s footsteps by desperately trying to distance himself from his record,” nothing that Buck also told the Post in 2010 that he was backing off the Personhood Amendment after learning it would ban common forms of birth control.
And the coordinated Democratic assault on Gardner extends beyond Udall’s campaign, with both the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado dropping press releases Monday as well.
“Gardner has a long history of supporting legislation that could outlaw forms of birth control and is now attempting to change his tune in a pathetically transparent attempt at hiding his record,” the DSCC wrote. “Unfortunately for Cory, one flip can’t erase an entire career spent as a leading advocate of positions that are dangerous to Colorado women.”
Added NARAL: “Cory Gardner enthusiastically supported the 2008 and 2010 Personhood measures, even stating he circulated signature petitions at his church.
“Gardner’s 2014 flipflop doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t believe women have the right to make their own private decisions about their health care, without government interference.”