U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced House Resolution 464, “Acknowledging that unborn children are legal and constitutional persons who are entitled to the equal protection of the laws,” on Monday. The 20 co-sponsors include Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), among others.
Lamborn’s resolution cites the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, claiming that it “situated its equal protection guarantee within a common-law and statutory context that prohibited abortion and treated the unborn human being throughout pregnancy as a ‘person,’ who under ‘common and civil law’ was ‘to all intents and purposes a child, as much as if born.’”
The use of the 14th Amendment in arguing for equal protection for fetuses has been a common feature of abortion abolition bills, which completely ban abortion and require criminal murder charges against abortion patients and providers. Abolition bills have been introduced in states across the country, including Colorado, and most recently in Alabama.
These bills have failed to make it through any of the legislatures in which they’ve been introduced, in part due to pushback from “pro-life” groups. Last year, when the Louisiana abolition bill, HB813, cleared committee and went for a House vote, a coalition of “America’s Leading Pro-Life Organizations” signed an open letter opposing the legislation.
“We are America’s leading advocates for life,” read the May 12, 2022 letter. “We come from very different backgrounds and perspectives, but we are united in our mission to protect unborn children and American women from the greed of the abortion industry. We have been in this fight for decades – many of us have dedicated our lives to this cause. We understand better than anyone else the desire to punish the purveyors of abortion who act callously and without regard to the dignity of human life. But turning women who have abortions into criminals is not the way. … In fighting for our country’s future generations, we are called to act with love and compassion as we seek fairness, justice, and liberty for unborn children and their mothers. Criminalizing women is antithetical to this charge. We will continue to oppose legislative and policy initiatives that criminalize women who seek abortions, and we will continue to work for initiatives that protect unborn children and policies that provide and strengthen life-affirming resources for abortion-vulnerable women.”
While Lamborn’s resolution uses a similar argument — the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment — it does not go as far as the abolition bills in calling for criminal prosecution of abortion patients. Lamborn’s resolution “acknowledges our constitutional duty and solemn obligation to guarantee the equal protection of the laws to every unborn child within the jurisdictional and geographic reach of the Constitution, which shall not be construed to permit the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child”
That distinction has rankled members of the abortion abolition movement. Yesterday Bradley Pierce, the Texas-based lawyer who leads the Foundation to Abolish Abortion and is the author of the abortion abolition bills that have appeared in state legislatures across the country, tweeted, “This is neither an equal protection bill nor a personhood bill. It says the Constitution shall not be construed to permit any woman to be prosecuted for murdering her own preborn child, which declares self-managed abortions as a constitutional right. This would be Roe 2.0. … This is quintessential partiality, which God hates and forbids.“
National abortion abolitionists aren’t the only ones at odds with Lamborn over abortion. Today the Colorado GOP announced it would rather Space Force relocate to Alabama (per Trump’s controversial order), than remain in Colorado (a top Lamborn priority), if the Biden administration’s rationale is protecting abortion access. Colorado GOP Chair Dave Williams, who attempted to primary Lamborn last year, was a sponsor of Colorado’s 2022 abolition bill.