Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner is continuing to dodge questions from reporters on a Colorado ballot initiative that would ban abortion at 22 weeks.
“Do you support the ballot measure on late-term abortions?” asked CBS4’s Shaun Boyd in an interview with Gardner last night following Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper’s primary win.
“Look, I’ve supported measures in the U.S. Senate that have been similar to that to protect life,” Gardner replied before quickly pivoting to a familiar criticism of Hickenlooper, saying “he couldn’t even answer that question on a radio interview with Dan Caplis not too long ago about where he stood on this issue.”
Conservative radio host Dan Caplis did not, however, ask Hickenlooper about the ballot initiative, which Hickenlooper has said he opposes. Gardner was likely (once again) referencing an interview from nearly a year ago during which Caplis asked Hickenlooper about babies born after failed abortion attempts that don’t receive medical care — an event which doctors say doesn’t occur.
“You’re asking me hypothetical questions,” Hickenlooper said before explaining that he believes women and their doctors should make decisions about abortions and then ending the interview.
Gardner’s comments to Boyd echo his previous response to reporters who ask him about Colorado’s abortion ban ballot measure, which Coloradans will vote on in November. The measure would impose criminal penalties for doctors who perform abortions after 22 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest or to preserve the pregnant patient’s health, only allowing such an abortion in cases where it’s necessary to save the patient’s life.
In March, Gardner told the Colorado Sun that he hadn’t seen the ballot question and declined to take a position on, but added that he’s supported past efforts to ban abortion. Gardner hasn’t commented on the initiative since and has ignored multiple phone calls from the Colorado Times Recorder seeking to know whether he’s now reviewed the initiative or decided whether to support it.
And, according to an online database showing who signed the petition to place the initiative on Colorado’s November ballot, Gardner didn’t sign.
It’s unclear why Gardner wouldn’t support the initiative, given that his opposition to abortion rights has been foundational to his political career.
“I’m pro-life and that’s something my record is very clear about, but if they want to focus on social issues, I guess that’s what they’ll do,” Gardner told Boyd when asked whether he expected abortion to become a critical campaign issue, like it was during his successful 2014 bid to unseat incumbent Senator Mark Udall, a Democrat. “I want to make sure I’m fighting for jobs and all the people of Colorado, and they can be social issue warriors if they want.”
Since he’s held federal office, Gardner has cast ten votes to defund Planned Parenthood. And when asked about a controversial bill passed in Alabama last year that banned all abortions in the state, Gardner said the question of whether to ban abortion should be left up to the states, a stance that is consistent with his longstanding position in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.