Inconsistency on ‘Personhood’ Stance Dogs Republican Senate Candidate

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Inconsistency on ‘Personhood’ Stance Dogs Republican Senate Candidate

Jason Salzman

With Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner repeatedly saying “there is no federal personhood bill,” even though he’s a co-sponsor of such a bill, Democrats are now airing a television ad correcting Gardner and telling viewers, “Gardner’s bill is called the Life at Conception Act. Look it up yourself.”

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner said repeatedly, once again, that there is “no federal personhood bill,” even though he co-sponsored such a bill just last year.

During the interview, on Fox 31 Denver, political reporter Eli Stokols asked Gardner, a Republican, why he’s remained a co-sponsor of the “Life at Conception Act” after withdrawing his support from state “personhood” amendments in March.

There is no such thing as the federal ‘personhood’ bill,” said Gardner, whose race against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is tied.

Stokols pressed Gardner, saying,Cory, the people who wrote that bill, Congressmen Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Broun of Georgia, they say—Personhood USA says—that that is what the ‘Life at Conception Act’ is.”

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Gardner: When I announced for the Senate, that’s when this outcry started from the Senate campaign of Senator Udall. That’s what they are trying to do. This is all politics. It’s unfortunate that they can’t focus on–

Stokols: But the facts are —

Gardner: No, the facts are, Eli, that there is no federal personhood bill. There is no federal personhood bill .… Mark Udall is running away from his record and trying to distract the voters with things he would like people believe that simply aren’t true.

The Fox 31 interview came after Democrats launched an ad last week slamming Gardner for his inconsistent stances on federal and state personhood measures.

“Here’s what Cory Gardner says in Colorado,” begins the ad, produced by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It then shows Gardner saying, “I believe the pill ought to be available over-the-counter.”

“But here’s what he’s doing in Washington,” the ad continues. “Gardner is sponsoring a bill to make most common forms of birth control illegal. Gardner’s bill also makes all abortions illegal, even in cases of rape and incest.”

The spot concludes with the statement: “Gardner’s bill is called the Life at Conception Act. Look it up yourself.”

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, says the “Life at Conception Act” is a personhood bill that would have substantive impacts.

“If it passed, it would be a federal law that makes the 14th Amendment applicable to the unborn,” Paltrow told Rewire.

“It arguably would create obligations on the federal government to protect equally the unborn by doing such things as outlawing abortion, even for rape and incest, outlawing in vitro fertilization, outlawing participation of pregnant women in drug trials that might be helpful to them but could create risks for the unborn,” said Paltrow, an attorney. “The only thing it does not permit is arresting women if there’s a death of an unborn child. But there is no prohibition against prosecuting doctors for murder—and there’s no prohibition against prosecuting pregnant women for other crimes.”

Paltrow continued: “For example, even if a woman seeks to maintain her pregnancy, a personhood law could be used to justify prosecuting a pregnant woman for risk of harm. The proposed law would do nothing to protect women from investigation, arrest, and prosecution under all the other mechanisms by which women are being arrested.”

Factcheck.org also concluded that the bill constitutes personhood at the federal level.

If it passed, the “Life at Conception Act,” which has 153 co-sponsors in Congress, would likely set up the Supreme Court to review Roe v. Wade.

Gardner’s office did not return an email seeking comment, as well as an answer to the question of what he thinks the “Life at Conception Act” is, if it’s not personhood legislation. Gardner continues to say he’s changed his “mind about personhood,” and he continues to promote his proposal for over-the-counter sales of birth-control pills.