THE BLOG
10/12/2014 10:32 am ET Updated Dec 12, 2014

A Principle or an Abortion Ban?

Before his recent false claims that federal personhood legislation is "simply" a toothless statement of his belief in "life," Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner's campaign told Factcheck.org that the candidate backed personhood proposals in order to ban abortion.

Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is now saying, incorrectly, that the federal personhood legislation he cosponsored in Congress is "simply a statement that I believe in life."

But his campaign told FactCheck.org in August that Gardner backed both state and federal "personhood" measures in an effort to ban abortion, not as a statement of principle.

Factcheck.org's Lori Robertson reported Aug. 15 that "Gardner's campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception."

Robertson reported:

Gardner is on record since 2006 supporting so-called personhood measures at the state and federal level. These bills and ballot initiatives generally said the rights afforded to a person would begin at the moment a human egg is fertilized. The federal bill would impact the definition of a person under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, while the state measure would obviously affect only Colorado law.

Gardner's campaign says he backed the proposals as a means to ban abortion, not contraception. But, as we'll explain, the wording of these measures could be interpreted to mean hormonal forms of birth control, including the pill and intrauterine devices, would be outlawed. Other non-hormonal forms, such as condoms, wouldn't be affected, but oral contraception (the pill) is the most popular form of birth control among U.S. women.

In response to an email asking whether the "proposals" cited in her reporting included federal as well as state personhood measures, Robertson wrote, "Yes, it was a general question, whether he supported past personhood proposals as a means to ban abortion, and the campaign's answer was yes."

Robinson noted that "this was of course before the recent interviews in which Rep. Gardner has said the federal bill isn't a personhood measure."

So before Gardner said the federal personhood bill is "simply a statement" with no legislative teeth, his campaign stated that the candidate had backed past personhood measures in an effort to ban abortion.

The Gardner campaign's response to Factcheck.org appears to be the closest thing to a factual statement about the Life at Conception Act that Gardner and his spokespeople have provided to reporters during his senatorial election campaign. The proposed law would actually ban not only abortion but common forms of birth control.

When the Gardner campaign uses the word "abortion," it may actually be referring to birth control as well. If Gardner, like Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, believes that IUDs cause abortions, then Gardner's aim to use the federal personhood bill as a means to ban "abortion" would include a ban on birth control methods, such as IUDs or Plan B, which Gardner opposed as a Colorado State legislator.

Gardner's office did not return an email seeking clarification on this matter and others.

There is evidence that Gardner, like Beauprez, believes Plan B and other forms of birth control cause "abortioins." Gardner voted against the 2009 Birth Control Protection Act, which defined "contraception," without exceptions, as a device to protect against pregnancy, defined as beginning after implantation of the zygote in the uterine wall.

The Senate sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, Sen. Rand Paul Kentucky, who's scheduled to visit Denver for a conference later this month, argues that his legislation will result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Gardner's race against Sen. Mark Udall is considered a tossup.