Truth Test: Ad portrays Gardner as jailer of women

KUSA-- The hot air isn't just outside in Colorado these days. It's also in political campaigns and likely o get hotter heading into the summer months.

One ad in Colorado's U.S. Senate race is getting a lot of play lately, aiming to convince voters that Republican challenger Rep. Cory Gardner wants to lock up women.

It's being run by the dark-money group Senate Majority PAC, which aims to support Democrats, including incumbent Sen. Mark Udall.

9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say. You can find the entire collection of Truth Tests here: To learn more about how political ads and fact-checking work on 9NEWS, please read these answers to our common questions and comments.

This isn't the first ad of the season we've tested on abortion, nor is it the first ad to paint a candidate as "extreme," but the Senate Majority PAC took things to a new level with this one, showing women being treated like criminals.

It quickly starts on birth control, with an actress in a pharmacy who appears to be reaching for a box between the aspirin and the multivitamins for some inexplicable reason.

CLAIM: "Cory Gardner led the charge for a constitutional amendment that would outlaw common forms of birth control."


As we've explained in a prior Truth Test, people argued the state personhood amendment they're talking about could have banned birth control, but those words weren't in the amendment.

In any event, Gardner says he no longer supports state-level personhood amendments.

The ad goes on to argue that Gardner still supports the idea of personhood.

CLAIM: "Gardner co-sponsored a congressional version of the personhood law that says life begins at fertilization."


Broadly speaking, "personhood" is the policy of treating a fetus as an unborn human-- with the same legal protections as a person.

The Bill Gardner is currently sponsoring does that.

However, the bill is different from the amendments we've had in Colorado aimed at establishing personhood. For example, the bill contains language to protect women from being prosecuted for abortions.

CLAIM: "Gardner pushed to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest."

VERDICT: TRUE (but extra context is useful)

The ad-makers are referencing a 2007 billGardner sponsored as a member of the state legislature, which would have made performing abortions a felony.

It only made exceptions to save the life of the mother and not for rape or incest.

However, Gardner's campaign can also point to other policies he's supported that do make exceptions for rape and incest.

So it's fair to say the lack of those exceptions in the 2007 bill do not appear to constitute a firm position for Gardner.

CLAIM: Gardner's policy would impose criminal penalties on women who seek abortions or birth control. (Implied through visuals)


We've covered what the ad says with words, but the pictures in this ad make a big point we can't ignore.

The ad prominently features images of women behind bars, which are meant to give viewers the idea that Gardner's pro-life policies would have women thrown in jail for getting abortions and birth control.

That's mostly false because most of the abortion policy proposals mentioned in this ad specifically prohibit criminal charges against women for having abortions.

For instance, the bill Gardner is sponsoring, H.R.1091, contains the words "nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child."

We used the term "mostly" in our verdict because the state personhood amendment, which Gardner supported in the past, did not contain that language to prevent criminal charges on women, nor did it specifically create criminal penalties.

The personhood amendments arguably could have laid the foundation for criminal charges.

BOTTOM LINE: This ad goes overboard with dramatic images and it assumes what the pro-choice side would see as worst-case scenarios under these policies.

That aside, the ad is fair in portraying Gardner's history of supporting many varieties of abortion bans.


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