It appears that Representative Cory Gardner has finally gotten the message that attacking women’s health and rights is not only bad policy, its bad politics. 21 days after he announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, he renounced his longstanding support for personhood.
But Colorado voters shouldn’t be fooled.
Gardner has a long and robust history of attacking women’s health. In fact, he has supported two personhood initiatives in Colorado, both of which were defeated with over 70 percent of voters rejecting them. If enacted, personhood measures could interfere with personal, private, medical decisions relating to birth control, access to fertility treatment, management of a miscarriage, and access to safe and legal abortion. It doesn’t get any more extreme from those seeking to restrict women’s health than Gardner’s (allegedly) previous position.
If ever there were a more cynical reason to have a moderate makeover, I can’t find one. Cory Gardner’s eight-year state and national legislative record is very clear: He’s for an all-out ban on all abortions with very rare exceptions. He has supported Colorado personhood initiatives not once but twice. He even is on video touting his soliciting of signatures for one of them.
His record is clear:
- In 2010, when Gardner was first running for Congress, “Christian Family Alliance of Colorado distributed a flyer to delegates that reported the three candidates’ positions on several conservative issues that included public funded abortions, the personhood ballot initiative, gay rights, and posting the 10 Commandments in public buildings. Gardner scored perfect responses.” [Colorado Statesman, 5/28/10]
- Personhood initiative leader Kristi Brown (formerly Kristi Burton) called Gardner “one of our main supporters” during the 2008 ballot initiative campaign and went on to say he was “very, very supportive.”
- Gardner sponsored SB07-143 in the state House, making abortion a class 3 felony, with an exception for life of the mother. This would make doctors criminals for performing abortions.
- Voted AGAINST the Birth Control Protection Act, a Colorado state bill defining contraception to mean a medically acceptable drug, device, or procedure used to prevent pregnancy (which was introduced in response to the personhood ballot initiative from 2008.) (SB09-225; 3/23/09)
- Voted NO on requiring hospitals in Colorado to inform the survivor of a sexual assault of the availability and use of emergency contraception (health care professionals who object on religious or moral grounds to providing such information are exempt from the requirement). [SB07-060; 2/14/07]
Gardner continued his support for personhood when he came to Washington. In both Congresses in which he has served, he has been a co-sponsor of the “Life at Conception Act,” which is another term for personhood. Even after he has renounced his support for personhood, his name still appears as a co-sponsor.
The best explanation for Gardner’s switch on a position that he has held for at least six years (and continues despite his statements, based on his continued co-sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act) is probably that Colorado voters really don’t like personhood measures. In 2008, the year in which Gardner was “very, very supportive,” voters rejected the initiative by a whopping 73%-27%. In 2010, they again rejected it overwhelmingly—71%-29%.
It’s one thing to hold these extreme positions in a conservative district. But it’s hard to win a statewide Senate race when your positions are so extreme that 71% of voters have rejected them. Maybe that’s why Gardner announced his change in position 21 days after he announced his candidacy. Either way, it’s clear Gardner can’t be trusted.