Abortion becomes a front and center issue in Colorado’s Senate race

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Sen. Michael Bennet (L) and Joe O’Dea are competing in Colorado’s 2022 U.S. Senate race.

Abortion access is quickly becoming a flash point in Colorado’s U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet and his GOP opponent, businessman Joe O’Dea.

Sen. Bennet campaign’s first television attack ad against O’Dea dropped this week and focuses entirely on his opponent’s stance on abortion. It highlights five women from various parts of Colorado lamenting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe. V. Wade, saying that they never believed such a day would come.

“Joe O’Dea opposes the law protecting abortion access in Colorado,” states one woman in the ad.

“And O’Dea would have voted to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe V. Wade,” says another woman.

O’Dea’s team has pushed back strongly on the ad, arguing it misrepresents his position on the issue.

O’Dea, who won the GOP primary by a wide margin in June, has said the recent Dobbs decision on abortion was wrongly decided and that he would support a Senate bill to allow the procedure “early” in pregnancy, positions that put him at odds with most other Republican candidates and many of the party’s voters.

He has maintained that he opposes abortion later in pregnancy, unless in cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother. In a statement on Friday O’Dea clarified that position.

“Before viability, in that first 20 weeks, there should be a law that protects the right of women to make the decision for herself, and she shouldn’t have to travel across state lines to do it. In months seven, eight, nine and beyond, except for true emergencies, that shouldn’t happen in Colorado or California or anywhere else for that matter,” said O’Dea.

He added that he thinks abortion as an issue is tearing the country apart. 

“We have to find a balance so we can start the long process of moving the country forward and give women certainty."

Earlier this year, Democrats in the state legislature passed the Reproductive Health Equity Act, which cements abortion access into state law without any restrictions on when they can be performed during pregnancy. On his website under a section titled “Balance,” O’Dea calls the state’s new law “reckless” and states that he would have voted to confirm all of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.

Colorado voters have repeatedly struck down ballot initiatives that sought to limit access to abortion, most recently Proposition 115, in 2020, which would have banned abortion after 22 weeks of gestation. That proposal failed with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

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