Republican Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, once an ardent supporter of “personhood” laws that define human life as beginning at the moment of conception, said he no longer supports them because they also restrict access to contraception.
Gardner made the statements to the Denver Post, calling efforts to add personhood amendments to Colorado’s Constitution in 2008 and 2010 “a bad idea driven by good intentions.”
“I was not right,” he told the paper. “I can’t support personhood now. I can’t support personhood going forward. To do it again would be a mistake.”
Gardner was once so supportive of the idea that he helped gather signatures at his church for its inclusion on the 2010 ballot. After the measure was defeated, he told the Post he began re-evaluating the issue.
“The fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position,” Gardner is quoted as saying. “I’ve learned to listen. I don’t get everything right the first time. There are far too many politicians out there who take the wrong position and stick with it and never admit that they should do something different.”
Gardner said he wanted to announce the change in his position to counter claims by incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, Gardner’s competitor in a tight race. Last week, Udall posted a message to his campaign website in which Udall warned that Gardner wants to “impose a narrow agenda on Colorado that isn’t the Colorado way.”
“If Gardner gets his way, abortion and some types of birth control would be considered crimes,” Udall wrote.
“Coloradans will see through this cheap election-year stunt,” Udall spokesman Chris Harris told the Post. “Gardner is showing a profound lack of respect for Colorado voters. Coloradans want a senator who always promotes and protects women’s health, not one who simply pretends to during election years.”
Gardner countered by telling the Post he expects to be labeled a flip-flopper on the issue, but said that Udall had also changed his position in the past, such as on the issue of same-sex marriage.
“It was perhaps best said by Mark Udall,” Gardner said, “who said a good-faith re-examination of a position you’ve held in the past should be seen as a virtue, not a vice.”
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