Gardner Defends Federal “Personhood” By Making Stuff Up

UPDATE: Media critic Jason Salzman arrives at the same conclusion.

The Life at Conception Act aims to redefine the definition of a person in the Fourteenth Amendment, and apply the 14th Amendment’s protections to zygotes, hence banning all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control that endanger, or even potentially endanger, fertilized eggs. It would give legal protections to fertilized eggs. In a word, personhood.

Reporters should not let Gardner, or his spokespeople, mislead the public about the aim of the federal personhood bill that he co-sponsored last year. [Pols emphasis]


Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

The Denver Post's Mark Matthews buries the lede in today's story about the issue of birth control in the U.S. Senate race, but nonetheless delivers a bombshell. After weeks of attacks, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner finally attempts to defend his continued sponsorship of the federal Life at Conception Act in Congress after having disavowed his longstanding support for the "Personhood" abortion ban initiatives in Colorado:

Gardner supported personhood in Colorado, but he said in March that he no longer backed the approach — calling it a "bad idea" because of the "fact that it restricts contraception."

…Not that Udall's campaign is letting him off the hook. They point to Gardner's continued sponsorship of similar personhood legislation in Congress as evidence his views haven't changed.

In response, a Gardner spokesman said the federal bill is different than the Colorado initiatives. "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," Siciliano said. [Pols emphasis]

We're pretty sure that Gardner's spokesman just badly screwed his boss. Let's compare, as we have in the past, the language of the federal Life at Conception Act abortion ban legislation and the Colorado Personhood intiatives. H.R. 1091's pertinent language reads like this:

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

And here's the text of 2008's Amendment 48, the Colorado Personhood abortion ban ballot measure:


As anyone who has followed this issue knows, it is the language conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" that would have the additional consequence of outlawing certain commonly used forms of birth control–the ones the pro-life community considers "abortifacient." This is the "unintended consequence" Gardner cited when he told reporters he had abandoned his prior support for the Colorado Personhood measures. Despite that, Gardner remained a sponsor of the Life at Conception Act in Congress, and today we finally learn that he has no intention of removing himself as a sponsor.

The problem is simple: Gardner is making a distinction that does not exist. There is nothing in the language of the Life at Conception Act that would treat birth control differently than the Colorado Personhood initiatives. Either Gardner doesn't realize that, in which case he looks clueless, or he does realize it–and is hoping to lie his way out of an irreconcilable contradiction.

Folks, we don't think Gardner is clueless.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    And of course, the Denver Post unquestioningly reprints Gardner's bullshit. What a fucking joke.

  2. Republican 36 says:

    Mr. Gardner Adds to His Credibility Deficit

    The problem Mr. Gardner has is he is still talking about abortion four months after he threw the Personhood Amendment under the bus. His lastest statement merely prolongs the agony. As Coloradopols points out, the federal Personhood Amendment is no different than the key provision in the Colorado amendment. He is still trying to have it both ways. On the one hand he supports the federal Personhood Amendment that aims to outlaw contraception, while on the other he favors over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. His position makes no sense. On the one hand he favors banning contraceptrives, yet on the other he wants to sell them over the counter. You can't prescribe or sell something over the counter if its been banned. Mr. Gardner needs to explain how that works. 

    There is no way out for him. He will be trying to explain this for the remainder of the campaign but because of his contradictory positions, he won't be able to. He continues to destroy his credibility. 

  3. Tom says:

    There's a growing scientific consensus that hormonal birth control and IUDs normally act by preventing fertilization rather than preventing implantation of the fertilized egg as previously thought. Hooray! Cory is getting the science right!

    Well… except that the pro-life lobby that has pushed for Gardner's federal personhood legislation as well as the supporters of the Colorado personhood amendments openly state that their measures would outlaw certain forms of contraception. The Hobby Lobby case even pivoted on the owners' "sincerely held belief" that contraception was a form of abortion. 

    It's really too bad that it's just the campaign lying and obfuscating the record again. I would've enjoyed a conservative embracing scientific consensus for once.

    • Jason Salzman says:

      An excellet point, but the science isn't there yet, though the evidence is growing particuarly for the morning-after pill and Ella, which are not considered a threat to zygotes anymore. There's stil uncertainty about the copper IUD in particular. It's tricky because scientists still express uncertainty about how some forms of birth control work (and then there's the problem of what happens to zygotes in certain circumstances when tthey fail). And there's the problem of how a jury, assessing the possibility of murder, might react to such uncertainty in evaluating whether a personhood law requires banning certain forms of birth control.

    • BlueCat says:

      Don't know what you mean by "growing scientific consensus" that hormonal birth control works by preventing fertilization. Not only is that exactly what the pill was designed to do, it was designed to do it by preventing ovulation in the first place. No ovulation. No egg present to be fertilized. No conception. No pregnancy. It's not as if the pill is some mysterious thing that acts in ways scientists are just beginning to understand. In my public school system we learned about it in sex education classes that were still called "health" back before the end of the 60s, for God's sake.

      There have been various kinds available, lower dose, higher dose  and other differences with hormones used. As with all medications there has never been an ironclad guarantee that hormonal birth control will always work exactly as advertised for each individual and there have always been possible side effects. But scientists are certainly not just now discovering how it works.

      • dwyer says:



        I disagree.  Jason is right that scientific research is ongoing. and researchers are still discovering "how it works.   The birth control  pill was designed to suppress ovulation.  Originally, the increased risk of storke and some cancers had not been identified.  That is one reason the hormone dosage has consistently been reduced.  With the reduction, it may well be that ovulation is not suppressed, but implantation is prevented or the environment of the cervix is changed to discourage the movement of sperm.  Science is always ongoing.

        It was only a few years ago, that HRT was prescribed for memoposal women because it was thought to reduce the risk of heart dieases.  Scientific studies showed that not only did HRT not decrease the risk of heart diseas, but it was a risk factor for that disease as well as breast cancer.

        Plan B is emergency contraceptive.  If it only prevented ovulation, then ithe instructions would include the information that if ovulation had already occured, Plan B would not work to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.    

        Science is still finding out how contraceptives work.  HEre is a link to the NEW findings that Plan B is not effective for women who weigh 176 lbs or more. 

        There is also some research that suggests that the effectiveness of ordinary birth control pills is impacted by a woman's weight.

  4. notaskinnycook says:

    Here we go again. Either he's a fool or he thinks I am. Sorry, Cory, I'm not. Guess that leaves you.

    • Curmudgeon says:

      I'd say that's an accurate analogy for Gardner's chances, Moddy. 🙂 

    • OrangeFree says:

      So, if your side brings up Dunlap, guns or whatever they're been pounding Hick on for the past year we can levy the same argument against them, correct?

    • BlueCat says:

      OK.  Modster's looking more like a very simple and limited computer program every day. This is another repeat. Like "running scared".  It apparently has only a small assortment of responses to plug in. This is the one for when you can't deny that some rightie pol said what he/she said or did what he/she did even though you're calling people liars for alluding to it.

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