His support for “personhood,” the anti-abortion policy that defines life as beginning at the moment of conception, has put Colorado GOP Senate nominee Cory Gardner in such a political bind that he’s forced to come up with creative new ways of convincing people he doesn’t actually support it.
At the beginning of his Senate campaign, Gardner disavowed his previous support for personhood, which included backing state ballot initiatives. But there is only one problem: Gardner still co-sponsors a federal personhood bill.
To counter, it seems, he has taken to simply denying it exists.
According to Congress.gov, Gardner is still a co-sponsor of H.R. 1091, introduced on March 12, 2013, by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). The bill, according to the summary, “declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being beginning at the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being.”
Here is the first line of that summary: “Protects All Unborn by Legislatively Establishing Their ‘Personhood.'”
But, as the Huffington Post reported Tuesday, Gardner told a local TV station in a new interview that there is not a federal personhood bill.
“There is no such thing as a federal personhood bill,” Gardner said, more than once, despite the objections of Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols. The full exchange begins at a little after the 15-minute mark in the video below and lasts for several minutes.
At one point, Stokols said to Gardner: “It’s more convenient for you to say it’s not a personhood bill. But does saying that make it true?”
“I’m not going to defend Sen. Udall’s failed record,” Gardner said in reply.
Gardner’s campaign has tried to thread the needle before by downplaying the significance of the federal bill when the issue has been raised. The bill does “(prohibit) construing this Act to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.”
“The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Senator Udall falsely alleges,” Gardner campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano told the Denver Post in July.
The distinction has been dismissed by pro-life advocates.
“Obviously he’s a victim of some bad political advice,” Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for Personhood USA, told KUNC earlier this year. “There’s no reason for him to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment. It doesn’t make any sense.”
PolitiFact rated Democratic claims that the bill would ban all abortions as “half true” — not because it isn’t a “personhood bill” (the news outlet referred to it that way), but because some allowances could be made in cases where the mother’s life is at risk, depending on a court’s interpretation if it became law.