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More Jail for Abortion Providers Than Rapists: CO GOP Senate Hopeful Struggles to Explain Stance

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports more on Cory Gardner's problems with electability. And this one's going to leave a mark.

Just as GOP U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner is looking to re-introduce himself on women’s health issues, Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign is set to hammer him for legislation he supported as a state lawmaker that sought to punish abortion providers more harshly than rapists.

Udall’s campaign is focusing on legislation Gardner sponsored in 2007 as a state legislator, Senate Bill 143, which would have subjected physicians who perform abortions in every case but to save the pregnant woman’s life to class three felony charges and a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.

That’s a longer sentence than that served by the average convicted rapist in Colorado, according to a memo from Bruce Brown, the district attorney in Colorado’s 5th Judicial District, written for and soon to be distributed by Udall’s campaign.

To be crystal clear over the implications (From Summit/Eagle DA Bruce Brown's memo):

In 2007, Rep. Gardner co-sponsored legislation in the State House (SB07-143), which would have subjected physicians to class 3 felony charges, with up to a twelve year prison sentence, for performing abortions in all cases except to save the life of the pregnant woman. To put the level of felony assigned by this legislative proposal in perspective, for physicians treating women who had been raped, the punishment assigned would be equal to that reserved for a residential arsonist and some second-degree murderers.

Most grotesquely, if Congressman Gardner’s law were enacted, a doctor providing abortion care for a victim of rape could be sentenced to a lengthier prison term than the average rapist serves. [Pols emphasis]

No small credit is due Jason Salzman, who explored this very question almost three weeks ago – and got the same answer from the American Civil Liberties Union's Marc Silverstein.

This isn't the first time Rep. Cory Gardner's sponsorship of 2007's Senate Bill 143 has come back to haunt him on the Senate campaign trail. In addition to Gardner's support for the Colorado Personhood ballot measures and the federal Life at Conception Act co-sponsored by Gardner, the 2007 abortion ban legislation – which made no exceptions for victims of rape of incest – is another central point in the case that, as Personhood USA's own Keith Mason said best, Gardner "built his entire political career on support of" banning abortion.

But even worse may be the response Stokols got from Gardner's campaign spokesman Alex Siciliano:

Gardner’s campaign blasted Udall, calling the attack “bogus” and “slanderous” but stopped short of pushing back against Brown’s interpretation of the 2007 bill. [Pols emphasis]

“Senator Udall is so desperate to continue his long career in politics that he is throwing out ridiculous charges that he knows are bogus,” said Gardner’s spokesman Alex Siciliano. “It’s sad that Senator Udall has nothing good to say about his own record and instead only slanders Cory Gardner. The facts don’t back Senator Udall up, again.”

…When pressed specifically to rebut Brown’s assertion that S.B. 143 would have resulted in longer sentences for abortion providers than rapists and whether that is something Gardner still supports, Siciliano did not respond further. [Pols emphasis]

Siciliano is the same Gardner spokesman who falsely claimed that there is a difference between the Colorado Personhood abortion ban measures Gardner has disavowed and the federal Life at Conception Act that Gardner is to this day co-sponsoring. As Factcheck.org and experts have concluded – and the plain language of the proposals clearly shows – there is no distinction between Colorado's Personhood measures and the Life at Conception Act. Both would outlaw abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

A credible legal opinion that one of Gardner's many abortion ban proposals could have the outlandish consequence of punishing a doctor who performs an abortion more than the rapist who made the abortion necessary, may be the most damaging attack yet. Gardner's new ad up this week, trying to whitewash his positions on birth control, smacks of desperation. With this memo in view, his campaign has to deny any of this is an issue out of the other side of their mouths.

We're not in the spring any more, and voters are starting to pay attention. If all Gardner's campaign can do is feign outrage and misdirect away from these very simple questions, it's not going to end well.

The questions are not going away.

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