Aug 23, 2022 - News

Bennet's new TV ad forces O'Dea to take tougher abortion stance

A screenshot from Michael Bennet's campaign ad on abortion.
A screenshot from Michael Bennet's campaign ad on abortion

Democrat Michael Bennet is making abortion the centerpiece of Colorado's U.S. Senate race, reclaiming an issue that favors his party two months before the election.

What to watch: In a new campaign commercial, five women criticize Bennet's Republican challenger, Joe O'Dea, for opposing a state law ensuring access to abortion and supporting former President Trump's three Supreme Court nominees, who helped reverse Roe v. Wade.

  • "It makes the race for Senate even more important," one of the women says in the 30-second spot.

Why it matters: Democrats see abortion as a defining line in the 2022 midterm elections, but O'Dea's stance on the issue is muddying the picture for voters.

Details: The first-time candidate said he supports access to abortion early in a pregnancy, but didn't further specify until pressed on the issue in the wake of the ad.

  • O'Dea now says he would outlaw abortions except in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity after 20 weeks, or 22 weeks after a woman's last menstrual cycle, the standard used by most doctors.

"Abortion is one of these issues tearing this country apart," O'Dea said in a statement to Axios Denver. "We have to find a balance so we can start the long process of moving the country forward and give women certainty."

Of note: O'Dea recently told the Colorado Sun that he voted for a failed 2020 ballot measure to ban abortions after 22 weeks of gestation. About 60% of the state opposed the measure.

  • He considers 20 weeks the point of viability.

By the numbers: Less than 1% of abortions occur at or after 21 weeks of gestation, federal health data shows.

The big picture: O'Dea's comments on abortion are the latest example of the candidate embracing conservative viewpoints and putting guardrails on his middle-of-the-road reputation.

  • The other most obvious juxtaposition is how he claimed to be in favor of maintaining Roe v. Wade's protections, yet acknowledged he would have supported Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
  • He has also appealed to the middle by criticizing Trump, but admits he voted for Trump twice and left open the possibility of doing so again.
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