Littwin: ‘Personhood’ begins the moment you decide to run for Senate

Cory Gardner changed his long-held position on anti-abortion ‘personhood’ as if he were changing socks

Littwin: ‘Personhood’ begins the moment you decide to run for Senate

 
OK, the race has now officially begun. Cory Gardner has had his first battle with himself — or with his voting record, anyway — and let’s just say it could have gone better. On Friday afternoon, he made the big reveal — that he would no longer support “personhood” because, well, he had no choice politically.

That’s not what he said, of course. But that’s what he meant. And the problem for him is that, in this case, everyone knows it. That he’s getting hammered from both left and right probably doesn’t surprise him. That the story is not going to go away — that may be a little harder to take.

All politicians have to make political decisions in which they compromise their beliefs — that is, if they have the misfortune to have any. It’s part of the job. That’s why every candidate is eventually accused of flip-flopping. Some (see: Bob, Both Ways) handle it less well than others.

Cory Gardner? He’s the guy who, about two minutes after he got in the U.S. Senate race, about 10 seconds after he basically cleared the Republican primary field, changed his long-held position on “personhood” as if he were changing socks.

But this was different. This was fundamental. This was about life and how it should be defined — from-your-core stuff, theological, philosophical, belief-system stuff, believe-it-so-much-you-pass-out-petitions-at-church stuff.

It’s basic, who-you-are stuff.

And so who is Cory Gardner?

He’s the guy who, about two minutes after he got in the U.S. Senate race, about 10 seconds after he basically cleared the Republican primary field, changed his long-held position on “personhood” as if he were changing socks.

His explanation to ace reporter Lynn Bartels for the switch was that he had misunderstood the whole “personhood” debate, which defines life at conception and would basically outlaw abortion and emergency contraception even after rape and leave open what can be done in case of miscarriage. It would outlaw if passed — and, of course, it would never pass — certain kinds of common contraception.

Even though Gardner was running for Congress and the issue was on the ballot and it was being widely discussed and he was passing out petitions in support of the personhood amendment and everyone else in Colorado knew what the amendment would do, Gardner says he somehow didn’t understand the bit about contraception.

Now this makes him either not too bright or not too curious or not too honest — and since he is both bright and curious, you can see the difficulty. At minimum, you’d think Gardner would have investigated an issue he was so intently supporting. At minimum, you’d think someone on his staff would have tipped him off.

When asked, Gardner said he began thinking about changing his mind after the 2010 election when voters rejected the amendment nearly 3-to-1. That seemed like a reasonable explanation for a politician. When voters reject something you support 3-to-1, it’s often wise to get on the other side of the issue — or at least stop talking about it.

And yet since that time, Gardner twice co-sponsored federal personhood-like bills in the House, one also sponsored by Rand Paul in the Senate, known as the Life Begins at Conception Act. In other words, even as Gardner was apparently mulling whether to change his mind on personhood, he was signing on to co-sponsor personhood legislation.

When Gardner’s campaign told Bartels that the Life Begins at Conception Act wasn’t really personhood, I thought maybe I was the one who misunderstood. And since I didn’t want to be accused of being either not too bright or not too curious or not too honest, I looked up HR 374.

Guess what: The bill says its purpose is to “implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.”

Yes, a right to life of each born and preborn human person.

And if you’re wondering about the bill’s definition of “human person,” it offers up this:

(1) HUMAN PERSON; HUMAN BEING- 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, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

Yes, each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization …

Personhood?

Its supporters say it is. For example, Duncan Hunter, one of the co-sponsors, says it would outlaw abortion and effectively overturn Roe v. Wade. So does the National Pro-Life Alliance. The bill does say there will be exceptions in the case of the life of the mother. It doesn’t say there will be any others.

Still, Gardner, who remains solidly anti-abortion, has accused the Udall campaign of “distorting” his position on abortion and telling “lies” about him. This may be where his real mistake lies. This is the kind of move that keeps issues alive. This is what gives pro-Udall Super PACs the chance to run ads asking who’s doing the lying.

I looked for Gardner’s position in cases of rape and incest. This is a pretty major distinction in the pro-life world. Either you are for the big-three exceptions or for some of the exceptions or you’re not. But I looked for Gardner’s position and strangely couldn’t find any mention of it. It must be out there somewhere.

But whatever he might have said, it’s difficult to say the Democrats are distorting your position when you’ve supported adding “personhood” to the state constitution and when you’ve supported “Life Begins at Conception” bills in Congress and when, as a state representative, you sponsored a bill that would have outlawed abortion in Colorado — and when, as it happens, none of those amendments or bills allowed for exceptions in the case of rape or incest.

And so, Gardner has clearly struck the first blow. We’ll have to see how long it takes him to recover.

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About the Author

Mike Littwin

He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
mlittwin@coloradoindependent.com | Twitter @mike_littwin

6 Comments

  1. Will Morrison on said:

    Cory Gardner stands for whatever makes sense for Cory Gardner. He has NO real morals, politically, he is for whatever gives HIM the advantage. He represents Cory Gardner, NOT the state of Colorado. WE voted against the stupid personhood NONSENSE every time they put it up in front of us, and this MORON co sponsors a PAIR of bills in congress AGAINST our wishes. THIS is how he represents US in congress? Why is he even there? It’s sure as hell NOT for OUR benefit, it’s for his own.

    The one thing this state does NOT need is to put this little mental pipsqueak in a higher office than he is in now. What we NEED is to RETIRE this little opportunist and put someone in there who cares what WE want instead. And for the record, that means someone who is NOT a damned Tea Party TWIT. We DO NOT need THAT ever again in this country. PERIOD.

    RETIRE CORY GARDNER IN 2014!!!

  2. Don Lopez on said:

    Life offers few certainties: death, taxes and Nate Silver’s political picks.

    Mr. Silver, formerly of the New York Times, currently with ESPN, is considered by many to be a polling guru. He has an accuracy rate that is nothing short of astounding (e.g. a 100 percent accuracy rate in the 2012 elections). His predictions are referenced by many, including Mr. Littwin, who holds Silver’s work in extremely high esteem.

    On Mr. Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com website he has predicted that Senator Udall will retain his seat in this November’s election. Considering the accuracy of Silver’s past predictions, supporters of Senator Udall can start celebrating today and Mr. Littwin can shift his focus to other things like, well, guns.

    What’s surprising—if not downright astonishing–is that Mr. Littwin—who never met a favorable poll or prediction he didn’t like—hasn’t mentioned Silver’s prediction despite the fact that, in this instance, his political views and Mr. Silver’s predictions dovetail so nicely. Well, who knows.

    And by the way, Mr. Silver has also predicted that Republicans will win control of the Senate.

    http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org

    Memorial Day – May 26, 2014

  3. ryecatcher on said:

    Death, taxes and the moribund confusion of some clown billing himself as Don Lopez. His dull monotonous tone is always the same as he attempts to convince us of his cleverness and expansive intellect. He hides behind a facade of narcissistic insecurity. How pathetic.

  4. GrogDC on said:

    So, is this the liberal strategy, to pull the argument away from Obamacare–which truly effects the lives of tens of thousands of Coloradoans, to a personhood initiative that stands no chance of passing anyway. Good luck with that one. I know democrats only strategy of keeping the Senate is to hope for Todd Adkin moments, but even the tea party learned that lesson back in 2010.

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