Denver Post Endorses Cory Gardner By Glossing Over His Extreme Stance On Personhood

The Denver Post's endorsement of Republican Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner (CO) claimed that he posed “no threat to abortion rights,” a declaration that ignores Gardner's support of federal personhood legislation that would greatly infringe on women's access to health care and legal abortion.

The Denver Post Endorses GOP Senate Candidate Cory Gardner, Says He Presents “No Threat To Abortion Rights”

The Denver Post Endorses “Cory Gardner For U.S. Senate,” Says His Election “Would Pose No Threat To Abortion Rights. In an October 10 editorial, The Denver Post endorsed Republican Senate candidate Rep. Cory Gardner over Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall. Condemning Udall for pointing to Gardner's controversial stances on contraception and access to abortion, the editorial board claimed that in truth “Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights”:

Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.


If Gardner had been a cultural warrior throughout his career, we would hesitate to support him, because we strongly disagree with him on same-sex marriage and abortion rights. But in fact he has emphasized economic and energy issues (and was, for example, an early supporter among Republicans of renewable energy).

For that matter, his past views on same-sex marriage are becoming irrelevant now that the Supreme Court has let appeals court rulings stand and marriage equality appears unstoppable. And contrary to Udall's tedious refrain, Gardner's election would pose no threat to abortion rights. [The Denver Post, 10/10/14]

Paper Fails To Address Gardner's Support For Federal Personhood Bill Gardner “Still Backs A Federal Personhood Bill.” Although Gardner changed his original support of Colorado's personhood legislation -- which would grant the rights afforded to people to a human egg at fertilization -- following criticism that the measures could ban some forms of contraception, the candidate “still backs a federal personhood bill,” as pointed out, citing the Gardner campaign's own admission (emphasis added):

In March, Gardner himself acknowledged that the personhood initiative could lead to a ban or restriction on some forms of birth control. “The past four years as I've learned more about it, I've come to the conclusion it can ban common forms of contraception,” Gardner said, according to the Associated Press.


Gardner announced his change of position eight months after he had signed on as a co-sponsor to the federal “Life at Conception Act,” which would extend “equal protection for the right to life” under the 14th amendment to the “preborn” from the “moment of fertilization.” That language -- giving the rights of a person to the fertilized egg -- is exactly what raises the question of what such a measure would mean for some forms of birth control. Yet Gardner's campaign told us he was not withdrawing his support for the federal legislation. Spokesman Alex Siciliano told us by email: “The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws.” [, 8/15/14]

Experts Agree That Personhood Legislation -- Supported By Gardner -- Endangers Women's Health, Access To Abortion

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Personhood “Must Be Defeated In The Best Interests Of Women's Health. In a 2012 statement the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) made clear that it is “unequivocally opposed” to personhood legislation. The ACOG described how these measures “erode women's basic rights” by denying access to “contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures”:

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is unequivocally opposed to the so-called “personhood” laws or amendments being considered in several states. These measures erode women's basic rights to privacy and bodily integrity; deny women access to the full spectrum of preventive health care including contraception; and undermine the doctor-patient relationship. ACOG firmly believes that science must be at the core of public health policies and medical decision-making that affect the health and life of women.

Like Mississippi's failed “Personhood Amendment” Proposition 26, these misleading and ambiguously worded “personhood” measures substitute ideology for science and represent a grave threat to women's health and reproductive rights that, if passed, would have long-term negative outcomes for our patients, their families, and society. Although the individual wording in these proposed measures varies from state to state, they all attempt to give full legal rights to a fertilized egg by defining “personhood” from the moment of fertilization, before conception (ie, pregnancy/ implantation) has occurred. This would have wide-reaching harmful implications for the practice of medicine and on women's access to contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures. [American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2/10/12]

Center For Reproductive Rights: Personhood Legislation Attempts To Ban Abortion, Endangers Women. According to a 2012 report from the Center for Reproductive Rights, “personhood measures would -- and are intended to -- completely and absolutely ban abortion, with no exceptions.” Discussing the ripple effect such legislation may have on women's access to other kinds of reproductive health care, the report discussed how these measures could stop “doctors from providing the best medical care to pregnant women” and potentially criminalize pregnancy:

Prenatal personhood measures would--and are intended to--completely and absolutely ban abortion, with no exceptions. Many of these measures would also effectively ban common forms of contraception and restrict or even ban assisted reproductive technologies such as IVF.

Moreover, the legal impact of prenatal personhood measures extends far beyond banning abortion and other forms of reproductive health care. Because extending legal rights to fetuses could criminalize any conduct that might harm a fetus, a prenatal personhood law could chill doctors from providing the best medical care to pregnant women. For example, in some cases an embryo implants in a fallopian tube, instead of in the uterus, and will not be able to continue to develop; all such pregnancies (one type of “ectopic pregnancy”) are health-threatening - and possibly life-threatening - for the pregnant woman, as there is a serious risk of fallopian tube rupture. Therefore, these pregnancies must be treated quickly. However, a prenatal personhood law might put a physician at risk of criminal liability for treating the pregnant woman, despite the risks to her health and life. Physicians would similarly be at risk for helping a woman experiencing a miscarriage because they could be criminally prosecuted for harming the embryo or fetus.

Further, a prenatal personhood measure might subject a woman who suffers a pregnancy-related complication or a miscarriage to criminal investigations and possibly jail time for homicide, manslaughter or reckless endangerment. And because so many laws use the terms “persons” or “people,” a prenatal personhood measure could affect large numbers of a state's laws, changing the application of thousands of laws and resulting in unforeseeable, unintended, and absurd consequences. [Center for Reproductive Rights, 2012]

Media Have Widely Criticized The Denver Post For “Factual Errors” In Its Gardner Endorsement

Media Criticized Post's Gardner Endorsement For Factual Inaccuracies. After The Denver Post published its endorsement of Gardner, the paper has been widely criticized for inaccuracies contained in the editorial. MSNBC's The Maddow Blog called out the paper for the “factual errors” and “gloss[ing] over the issues on which the editors are convinced the congressman is wrong.” New Republic questioned why the paper would endorse a candidate when they do not “agree with Gardner on almost any issue.” [, 10/13/14; New Republic, 10/13/14; Salon, 10/10/14]