When we last checked in on former Rep. Bob Beauprez, the Republicans’ gubernatorial hopeful in Colorado, he was defending his support for “Personhood” proposals; he was falsely claiming IUD contraceptives are “abortifacients”; and he was telling a debate audience, “I’m unabashedly pro-life.”
Last week, however, the far-right former congressman talked to Colorado Public Radio, and as Andy Kroll reported, Beauprez seemed to offer a very different message.
CPR: On women’s reproductive health, as governor would you be committed to your current stated position that while you’re personally against abortions, you won’t stand in the way of people having access to them or letting women choose their preferred method of birth control?Beauprez: That’s correct. I respect people’s opinion, women’s right to that choice. I know what the law is. And my job is to enforce the law. The question of birth control has come up and let me be real clear…I think women ought to have the choice of whether to use birth control or not. I think women ought to have the choice of what type of birth control to use. I just don’t think taxpayers need to be paying for it.I respect people’s right to choose. I live my life the way I personally choose, but I’m not going to interfere with somebody else’s. The job of a governor is less to govern the people, and more to govern the government. I don’t want to make somebody else’s decision, but I want them to have every opportunity to make their own. I don’t want to run somebody else’s family and make decisions for their family, their life; I want them to have the opportunity and the freedom to do that themselves. That’s the kind of governor I’ll be.
Well, that’s quite an evolution, isn’t it? Over the course of three weeks, Beauprez went from being “unabashedly pro-life” to “I respect people’s right to choose.” On Sept. 30, the Republican candidate saw IUD contraceptives as “abortifacients”; and on Oct. 22, he’s “not going to interfere with” birth control.
In the larger context, between Bob Beauprez, Cory Gardner, and Mike Coffman, Colorado voters may very well elect several far-right congressmen this year, at which point many conservatives will see this as a triumph for right-wing culture warriors. After all, Colorado is a fairly competitive state – it backed President Obama twice – and if it rewards far-right congressmen who’ve fought to eliminate all abortions and ban common forms of birth control, the argument will go, then maybe the public is amenable to this extremist vision.
The problem with the argument will be that Beauprez, Gardner, and Coffman all had to dramatically change their positions on culture war issues, pretending to be something they’re not in the hopes voters wouldn’t know the difference.
As for Beauprez’s background, Kroll noted the key details.
In 2005, then-Rep. Beauprez cosponsored the Right to Life Act, a measure that guaranteed “equal protection for the right to life of each born and pre-born human person.” The bill defined life beginning with “the moment of fertilization,” and could severely restrict abortions. In Colorado Right-to-Life’s 2006 voter guide, he said he supported a constitutional amendment to “restore full protection to pre-born human beings.” That same year, he asserted—incorrectly—that the abortion rate for black women was an “appalling” 70 percent. (The actual rate at the time, according to the Guttmacher Institute, was 49 per 1,000—or 4.9 percent.) And in 2013, in a column on TownHall.com, he urged all Americans to reconcile the “tragedies” of abortions just as they reconciled the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and Newtown, Connecticut.
I don’t know if voters will buy Beauprez’s new pro-choice posture, but I do know it’s a tough sell given his entire political career. Then again, if Coloradans are prepared to elect Cory Gardner as the most far-right senator in state history, maybe voters are willing to believe all sorts of absurd claims this year.