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Why Gardner Still Supports National Abortion Ban

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I may be the only person in the universe who spends his quiet moments in the shower trying to figure out the puzzle, left unsolved by local and national reporters, of why Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner hasn't un-cosponsored federal personhood legislation, which aims to ban all abortion, even for rape and incest.

Gardner's been jumping up and down and screaming that he no longer supports personhood amendments here in Colorado, even saying so in a TV commercial, but he's not backing off the federal personhood bill, called Life at Conception Act.

Gardner spokespeople have told reporters that the federal legislation "simply states that life begins and conception," and it would have not real-world impact on abortion or contraception.

But if you take one minute and read the bill, you'll see that it actually factually aims to make personhood the law of the land. And other co-sponsors of the bill agree.

So what's up with Gardner?

Gardner was perfectly happy to un-endorse the personhood amendment here in Colorado, and send personhood supporters into conniptions (justifiable conniptions, given that Gardner powered his political career with support from the religious right).

But if Gardner declared the federal personhood bill a well-intentioned mistake, like he did here, he'd be throwing the 153 members of Congress, 132 in the House and 21 in the Senate, who also co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act under the bus.

And you can bet some of those Congresspeople, who actually believe in personhood, would come down on Gardner mercilessly, like hardline abortion opponents are known to do. They see a holocaust unfolding as I write, so Gardner's political expediency wouldn't fly with them. They'd denounce Gardner for claiming their bill is toothless when the text plainly says otherwise.

And how bad would it look, on TV, for members of Congress from around the country to be bashing Gardner? That's a lot messier, visually and politically, than Gardner taking heat from local pastors and churchgoers who've tirelessly pushed the personhood amendment.

Complicating matters for Gardner, who's challenging Democrat Mark Udall, are congressional rules dictating that he'd have to declare his un-endorsement of the Life at Conception Act in a speech from the floor of the House of Representatives, making a Friday news dump via a vague spokesperson impossible.

The political fallout would run deep, stirring up poison, for example, for potential Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, who's the sponsor of the Senate version of the personhood bill.

When he introduced his Life at Conception Act on March 15 of last year, Paul said in a statement that his bill "legislatively declares" that fertilized human eggs (called zygotes) are entitled to "legal protection."

Four days later, CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Paul if he was aiming to overturn Roe v. Wade. Paul replied:

"I think it's probably designed even more philosophically than that. It's designed to begin the discussion over when life begins. And it's not an easy discussion. And we're divided as a country on it. So, I don't think we're in any real rush towards any new legislation to tell you the truth."

So, here, Paul is sounding a lot like Gardner, which makes sense because Paul, like Gardner, knows that a personhood abortion ban is seen as whacky/scary by most people. As Paul winds up to run for president, he's trying to broaden his appeal, just as Gardner is trying to appeal to a wider audience here in Colorado. But Paul still has a GOP primary in font of him, so he can't veer too far to the right yet.

Unfortunately, Blitzer didn't ask Paul why he thinks his bill is "probably" designed to begin a philosophical "discussion." And why would Paul launch such a discussion by proposing a law that actually aims to ban abortion by re-defining a person under the 14th Amendment? He also didn't ask why he'd previously said the legislation would have legislative force. And what, in Paul's view, do fellow House and Senate co-sponsors of the legislation think the legislation would do?

So Blitzer failed to ask Paul some of the same questions Colorado reporters aren't asking Gardner.

Meanwhile, with these questions are hanging, I'm stuck wasting my time in the shower thinking about this.