THE BLOG
07/16/2014 12:51 pm ET | Updated Sep 15, 2014

Don't Let Gardner Mislead Us About His Personhood Bill

A spokesman for senatorial candidate Cory Gardner told The Denver Post today that the federal personhood bill, co-sponsored by Gardner in July of last year, "simply states that life begins at conception" and would not change contraception laws.

In fact, the "Life at Conception Act" aims to make personhood federal law, applicable to all states, including Colorado, banning all abortion, even for rape, and common forms of birth control.

The 14th Amendment, Section 5, allows Congressto pass legislation to re-define the definition of a "person" under federal law. This skirts the normal, lengthy process for amending the U.S. Constitution.

The 14th Amendment, Section 5, states: "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

Anti-abortion activists have seized on this provision of the 14th Amendment to push federal legislation that would define a "person" as beginning at the fertilized egg (or "zygote") stage.

They argue that such legislation would enforce the due-process and equal-protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment.

That's how Gardner's federal personhood bill would work, which is evident if you read the full title of the Life at Conception Act: "To implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person."

The Act states in part:

To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of the Congress, including Congress' power under article I, section 8, to make necessary and proper laws, and Congress' power under section 5 of the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. ...

The term "human being" is defined in the billas "all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization..."

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

To summarize: The Life at Conception Act aims to redefine the definition of a person in the 14th Amendment, and apply the 14th Amendment's protections to zygotes, hence banning all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control that endanger, or even potentially endanger, fertilized eggs. It would give legal protections to fertilized eggs. In a word, personhood.

There would undoubtedly be a court fight if this bill passed, but reporters should not let Gardner, or his spokespeople, mislead the public about the aim of the federal personhood bill that he co-sponsored last year.