Abortion politics hits the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Colorado

Quinn Dombrowski

Voters still reeling from TV ad after TV ad about women’s reproductive health issues from the 2014 Colorado U.S. Senate race might be sensing a glimmer of deja vu.

Abortion politics has finally hit the high-ticket race for U.S. Senate between incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet, Republican Darryl Glenn and two third-party challengers.

At this point, the issue is playing out in the press and not on TV screens— likely a relief to the average voter who dealt with a barrage of midterm attack ads between Democrat Mark Udall and Republican Cory Gardner.

The opening salvo this year came from The Durango Herald, which reported how a national right-to-life anti-abortion group was at odds with its Colorado affiliate over whether Glenn is sufficiently pro-life.

Then came this headline in The Denver Post: “What is Darryl Glenn’s abortion position? It’s not entirely clear.”

From The Post:

The reason for the kerfuffle: a statement Glenn made July 15 on Colorado Public Television when asked about personhood, an effort to ban abortion and assign rights to fetuses.

As the Herald reported, Glenn said: “As a person who has two adult daughters, I put myself in that situation. And I want to make sure that when we’re talking about health care, you want to make sure that women have the ability and access to health care, so that they understand all the different options that are out there,” Glenn said. “And at some point in time, maybe they might have to make that decision. But that is a personal decision that they have to make between them and … God.” 

The Post also reported Glenn had declined to clarify his stance on the issue. Glenn did not respond to a voice message from The Colorado Independent asking to discuss the topic. We’ll update this when we hear back. 

It should be noted Glenn spent plenty of time talking up his pro-life bona fides during the GOP primary, even kicking off his now-famous speech at the state Republican Party convention by thanking his mom for giving him life, and saying, “I am proud to sit here and tell you that I am going to be a strong defender of the rights of the unborn.” He said he would vote to defund Planned Parenthood if there is any taxpayer funding going to “the dismemberment of our babies.” 

Meanwhile, in a June 7 blog post at the Colorado Right to Life blog, updated on June 26th, the group wrote that Glenn “has pledged to be 100% pro-life according to answers to the CRTL survey.” And on a 2010 questionnaire by Pikes Peak Citizens for Life, he is listed as saying “Yes” to a question asking “Will you take a leading role for a pro-life constitutional amendment, state and/or federal, upholding the sanctity of life from single cell stage of development to natural death?”

For his part, Michael Bennet, the Democratic incumbent, opposes personhood, and is supported by Planned Parenthood. He is also supported by NARAL Pro-Choice, an abortion rights advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

In 2010, that group quoted him saying: “Decisions about when to start a family and whether to terminate a pregnancy are extremely personal decisions, and should be made by a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor, not the federal government. We also need to focus on the goal so many of us share: reducing unintended pregnancies by offering comprehensive sex education and increasing the availability of safe birth control and family planning services.”

The Bennet campaign declined to offer an updated statement about the incumbent’s position in his own words.

The Green Party’s nominee for U.S. Senate, Arn Menconi, is pro-choice.

“I’m for a woman’s right to choose,” he told The Colorado Independent. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Lilly Tang Williams, the Libertarian Party’s nominee who will also be on the ballot, says she is both pro-life and pro-choice. She believes life begins at conception, but also believes women should have control over their reproductive rights. She believes policies regulating abortion should be up to the states, not the federal government, and doesn’t think the federal government should ban abortion.

She says she is “pro choice up to viability,” and doesn’t support late-term abortions at the point where a baby could survive on its own, saying, “That date could be later changed according to technology.”

“It’s the most emotional and complicated issue for me,” Williams says about abortion.

Perhaps the most defining characteristic of the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Colorado was just how much the campaigns revolved around women’s reproductive issues.

[Photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski via Creative Commons on Flickr]