Colorado Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette has waded into the Colorado Senate race, calling Republican Rep. Cory Gardner’s idea to make birth control pills available over the counter a “transparently hollow” campaign stunt.
Gardner, who has long supported “personhood” legislation that defines human life as beginning at the moment of conception, reversed his position early in his campaign to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall. He said he no longer supports such legislation because of restrictions they place on birth control.
Democrats have pounced on the reversal, saying that Gardner has a long history of voting against access to birth control. DeGette penned an op-ed in the Denver Post after Gardner voiced support for the idea of making oral contraceptives available over the counter.
“Gardner’s work on this issue has been consistent for nearly a decade,” DeGette wrote. “He has repeatedly supported efforts to restrict access to contraception, including birth control pills, and opposed proposals to make it more affordable and available for all women.”
DeGette wrote that she was “offended that someone would put forward a proposal that transparently contradicts long-held positions.”
In his own op-ed the week before, Gardner proposed that the pill be available over the counter in order to increase access to oral contraception and lower prices. He said his proposal would prevent the issue from being used as “an election year power play.”
“[T]oo many people in Washington would rather play politics with contraception instead of actually making life easier for women,” Gardner wrote. “Too many Democrats prefer to attack Republicans on the issue of contraception rather than actually make contraception more available and affordable and too many Republicans are afraid to break the mold.”
While Gardner’s supporters work to make the election about energy issues, Democrats clearly want the focus to remain on women’s health issues. DeGette’s op-ed is only the latest salvo on this front; Udall and outside groups have both attacked Gardner with a series of TV ads on the issue.
Udall has a strong lead over Gardner among women, 52-35 percent, according to the most recent poll by Quinnipiac University. But the same poll, conducted in late April, shows that female voters are equally split, 21-21 percent, on whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Gardner.
Those numbers may change by the next poll, depending on the success of the Democrats’ strategy — 58 percent of women polled also said they didn’t know enough about Gardner to form an opinion about him.
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