Colorado Senator Hammers His Opponent on Choice Issues

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall claimed Monday that his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner (R), supports federal personhood legislation, even though Gardner recently unendorsed a state "personhood" amendment.

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall (left) claimed Monday that his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner (R) (right), supports federal personhood legislation, even though Gardner recently unendorsed a state "personhood" amendment. Udall for Colorado, Congressman Gardner / YouTube

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall’s re-election campaign claimed Monday that Udall’s opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), is refusing to “disavow” a federal “personhood” bill, even though Gardner unendorsed a state personhood amendment just last month.

“In the state of Colorado, the personhood initiative, I do not support,” Gardner stated in an interview Friday with Denver’s CBS affiliate.

The Udall campaign pounced on Gardner’s wording, pointing out in a news release that Gardner is a co-sponsor of a federal personhood bill, called the “Life at Conception Act,” which would outlaw all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

“By clarifying his stance and singling out the state measure, Gardner tacitly admitted he still supports the federal Personhood bill he’s currently cosponsoring in Congress,” Udall’s campaign stated. “Gardner hides his support for Personhood in Colorado—but he would continue pushing the measure in the U.S. Senate, disrespecting the rights and liberties of women and families across America.”

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

Gardner’s name appears among the 128 co-sponsors of the “Life at Conception Act,” which is sponsored by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). Gardner signed on to the legislation just nine months ago.

Jordan’s office did not return an email attempting to confirm that Gardner remains a co-sponsor of the proposed federal personhood law.

Jordan’s bill defines a “human being” to “include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.” The bill would grant legal protections to such “human beings” under the 14th Amendment.

In a radio interview on April 16, Gardner spoke as if his anti-choice record in Congress stood apart from his decision to un-endorse Colorado’s personhood amendment.

“I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress,” Gardner told KNUS radio host Steve Kelley.

Asked by Kelley if Gardner’s flip on state “personhood” meant that he has become pro-choice, Gardner said, “If you look at my record, it is a pro-life record. And that will always be on my record, and continue to be a part of it. So, I think that that is something that we have not been trying to turn away from.”

Gardner also defended his anti-choice positions last week, after the Udall campaign released an ad spotlighting Gardner’s record on abortion.

Among the bills cited in the Udall ad was 2007 legislation sponsored by Gardner as a Colorado state legislator that would have outlawed all abortion, even for rape and incest.

Gardner’s campaign pointed out that the legislation penalized doctors who performed abortions, not women who received them.