COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, May 30, 2014 ( – A new Democratic attack ad is accusing Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Colorado, of trying to put women behind bars for having abortions or purchasing contraceptives.

The ad, entitled “Outlaw,” shows prison doors slamming shut on women after they visit an abortionist or purchase over-the-counter contraception, an apparent reference to the morning after pill.


“Cory Gardner led the charge for a constitutional amendment that would outlaw common forms of birth control,” the female narrator says. “Gardner pushed to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.”

The spot was paid for by the Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC that was the fourth-largest spending political action committee in the 2012 elections, investing $42 million in all. With the 2014 midterms more than five months away, it has already spent more than $17 million, the overwhelming majority of it on negative attack ads against Republicans.

The ad isn't going over well with fact-checkers. KUSA Channel 9 described the ad as “hot air,” with reporter Brandon Rittiman calling its claims “mostly false.”

The claim that Gardner would send women to the slammer for having an abortion is based on that fact that he supports the Life Begins at Conception Act (H.R.1091), with 129 other co-sponsors, including Democrat Collin Peterson of Minnesota.

He is not the first Republican to face this charge. Democratic Senator John Walsh aired an ad alleging that Republican challenger Steve Daines “proposed making women criminals for having an abortion.” The bill it cites is H.R. 1091.

However, the text of the bill explicitly states, “nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child.”

The claim that Gardner would imprison women for using birth control is one Gardner's repudiation of the Personhood movement was supposed to avoid. Gardner backed the concept of Personhood, which would codify in state law that life begins at conception, until the two-term U.S. Congressman entered the Senate race in March. “I was not right,” he told the Denver Post.


The statewide Personhood amendment would have legally protected every person “from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.” Although many forms of birth control may cause an early abortion, nothing in the amendment explicitly outlaws any form of contraception.

Colorado voters defeated such initiatives in 2008 and 2010 by wide margins. A new initiative will be on the ballot this fall, alongside Gardner's hotly contested Senate race.

Instead of lessening the pressure, Gardner's policy change has been turned against him by Democratic challenger Mark Udall, who launched a website measuring the amount of time since Gardner's flip-flop. Udall also campaigned against what Gardner says is a distorted version of his record on abortion.

The Senate Majority PAC spot comes just a month after Udall aired an attack ad entitled “Respect,” which said, “Gardner sponsored a bill to make abortion a felony, including cases of rape and incest. Gardner even championed an eight-year crusade to outlaw birth control here in Colorado.”

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That ad was also criticized by fact-checkers. Glenn Cohen, co-director of the Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard University, told, “It is unclear that the Colorado 2008 and 2010 referendums were intended to ‘outlaw birth control in Colorado’ — that's what the word ‘crusade’ seems to imply.” Politifact ruled the ad as “half truth.” 

While he has decided to distance himself from state Personhood referenda, Gardner has also remained a co-sponsor of H.R.1091.


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