(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
Beneath the drama of the Republicans’ failed efforts to kill Obamacare is the stack of votes amassed by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood.
Four measures to repeal Obamacare this year would have also de-funded the women’s health organization, and Gardner voted for each one of them without objecting to the Planned Parenthood provision.
With the addition of this year’s votes, Gardner has now backed a total of nine measures to withdraw support from Planned Parenthood since 2010, when Gardner was first elected to Congress, as a U.S. Representative.
“Cory Gardner continuously underestimates the importance of Planned Parenthood,” said Sarah Taylor-Nanista, Director of Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado in a statement. “Health Centers provide 70,000 Coloradans the care they need. A third of which are Medicaid patients. Coloradans need and want Planned Parenthood. It is time for Cory Gardner to really work on the health care needs of Coloradans and stop playing politics by going after the providers who care for them.”
Gardner’s votes against Planned Parenthood are noteworthy, in part because contraception and abortion played such a high profile role in Gardner’s 2014 election to the U.S. Senate over Democratic Sen. Mark Udall, who repeatedly spotlighted Gardner’s stance against all abortion, even for rape, as well as some forms of birth control.
During the 2014 election, Gardner responded by calling Udall “Mark Uterus” and by saying he, Gardner, supported easier access to birth-control pills. Gardner withdrew his support of a state personhood abortion ban, and Gardner misinformed the public that his support of federal abortion-ban legislation wasn’t support for an abortion ban.
Gardner also said abortion and contraception weren’t “top of mind for people” and therefore Udall was “trying to distract voters” by drawing attention to Gardner positions on women’s health issues.
In fact, Gardner has been crusading against abortion from the beginning of his political career, relying on backing from anti-abortion activists to win GOP primary battles and to propel him into office.
Gardner’s votes against Planned Parenthood, which is widely known to offer abortion services, are almost certainly linked to Gardner’s own longstanding opposition to abortion, even though by law the organization cannot use federal money for abortion but instead for cancer screenings, family planning, and basic healthcare needs of low-income people. Abortion accounts for a small part of Planned Parenthood’s total revenue.
Anti-abortion activists in Colorado target Planned Parenthood, with regular protests. Former GOP Colorado State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, of Colorado Springs, once said he was proud that a legislator in South Dakota compared Planned Parenthood to ISIS.
A 2015 shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was denounced by most anti-abortion activists, but some equated the shooting deaths to abortions at Planned Parenthood. And a Republican lawmaker in Colorado commented on Facebook that Planned Parenthood executives were the “real culprits” for the attack.
Gardner’s nine votes to de-fund Planned Parenthood include two cast as a U.S. Representative, both in 2011: one resolution, naming Planned Parenthood Federation of America, here, and the Pence amendment targeting the organization, here.
Gardner’s seven anti-Planned Parenthood votes since he became a U.S. Senator include four Obamacare repeal measures, the “Skinny Repeal,” AHCA, BRCA, and the ORAA. He also voted against Planned Parenthood funding three times in 2015, here, here, and here.
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who, like Gardner, says he’s modified his no-abortion-even-for-rape stance of the past, has voted six times during his career in the U.S. House to de-fund Planned Parenthood.