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senate Bill S. 2464

Should "Life" be Legally Defined as Beginning at Conception?

Argument in favor

The time has come for Congress to recognize that the right to life is guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution, including the unborn. By defining life as beginning at conception, this bill could negate the Supreme Court’s mistake in Roe v. Wade.

BTSundra's Opinion
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01/30/2016
If it's alive, it should be classified as such. This isn't about what a mother can do with her body, it's about what a mother can do with the body inside of her. Having responsibility for your actions is always better than murder.
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JebBush's Opinion
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01/29/2016
"I strongly believe that we should build a culture that respects the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death." [foxnews.com]
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Tylersmith's Opinion
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05/02/2016
This is exactly what we need! Right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. See how the first word is life? This means that abortion is unconstitutional.
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Argument opposed

A fetus is not a person, and as such it shouldn’t receive the same legal protections as people who have already been born. This is another futile attempt to undermine the right of women to determine their own reproductive future.

Lesia's Opinion
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01/30/2016
Just another attempt by Christians to force all of us to live by their belief system. Separation of church and state people
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Lenora's Opinion
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01/30/2016
This is a horrible question especially for all the women who have had a miscarriage or still birth. Life begin when the baby can survive outside the moms uterus
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Jj's Opinion
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01/31/2016
Science > religion, keep religion out of public policy and let women control their bodies.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
    IntroducedJanuary 21st, 2016

What is Senate Bill S. 2464?

This bill would give equal protections to born and unborn humans under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution — effectively banning abortions. It would not amend or interpret the Constitution, but instead rely on the following part of the 14th Amendment to extend protections to the unborn:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person or life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Following conception, an unborn person would be afforded the same legal protections as those who have already been born. Conception would be defined as the moment of fertilization or cloning, or:

"other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being."

Nothing in this bill is to be construed as:

  • requiring the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child, 
  • prohibiting in vitro fertilization, 
  • or prohibiting the use of birth control and other methods of contraception (or preventing fertilization).

Impact

Unborn humans, their parents, state governments, and Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2464

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) explained the rationale behind the introduction of this bill in an introductory press release:

“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known - that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore, is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. Only when America chooses, remembers, and restores her respect for life will we rediscover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”

In the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun admitted that he wasn’t in a position to determine definitively when life begins. However, he made the following concession about the right to life and how it related to the case at hand:

“If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case [i.e. “Roe” who sought the abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

By defining life as beginning at conception, this legislation would strike down the rationale used by the Supreme Court to allow women to access abortions. 

ThinkProgress noted that when Sen. Paul introduced this legislation in 2013, he granted that there would be complex and unique situations that couldn’t be immediately addressed from a legal standpoint in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:

“Well, there is going to be like I say thousands of extraneous situations where the life of the mother is involved… there would still be a lot of complicated things the law may not ultimately be able to address in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician and the woman and the family.”

RH Reality Check Editor in Chief, Jodi Jacobson, argues that the idea of "life at conception," not only confuses the real issue of when personhood begins, but also dehumanizes women in general:  

"In the end, when you hear the phrase “life begins at conception,” remember the implications. In debating the 'personhood' of eggs, embryos, and fetuses prior to viability, we are also implicitly and explicitly debating the personhood of women. Because if you have no choice and control over your body, you are less than an actual person in the eyes of the law. If the right is so worried about abortion the closer a pregnancy gets to viability, then anti-choicers would be making sure both contraception and early, safe abortion were widely available. That really is not their actual concern.
The development of a potential human life requires conception as a first step. But that is not the same as either pregnancy or personhood. You can’t reduce complex reality to a slogan, and when you try to do so, you actually minimize the personhood of women."

Currently this bill has six cosponsors in the Senate, all of whom are Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Sexy Eggs)

AKA

Life at Conception Act of 2016

Official Title

A bill to implement equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.

    If it's alive, it should be classified as such. This isn't about what a mother can do with her body, it's about what a mother can do with the body inside of her. Having responsibility for your actions is always better than murder.
    Like (102)
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    Just another attempt by Christians to force all of us to live by their belief system. Separation of church and state people
    Like (698)
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    This is a horrible question especially for all the women who have had a miscarriage or still birth. Life begin when the baby can survive outside the moms uterus
    Like (381)
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    Science > religion, keep religion out of public policy and let women control their bodies.
    Like (256)
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    This is a pro-life attempt to open the door to banning abortion. A fertilized egg does not have thoughts, emotions, or even a nervous system, yet. If they were as concerned with the life of the child after birth as they were during gestation they would have a more legitimate argument. But, once the child is born, baby and mother are on they're own, out of sight out of mind and on to the next expecting mother. Without taking responsibility to see it all the way through this this is all just noise and posturing.
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    This is an attempt by Republicans to yet again take away the rights of women and trying to make abortions illegal in the United States. Taking away women health rights is a disgusting thing to do. Let women have the right to choose what they want to do with their own bodies, and don't force women to have babies that they don't want. If abortions ever do become illegal, it would just create a worse situation. Yes, more babies will be born, however, women will attempt to do deadly, illegal abortions that can possibly kill the baby AND the woman trying to get the illegal abortion done through other illegal means. With this in mind, I don't support Planned Parenthood as tax payer dollars are going towards the organization, there should be less to no government funding of the
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    If I'm carrying a newborn in one hand and a petri dish in the other and I drop them both. Which one do you reach to save? If they are truly equal it shouldn't matter which because they're supposedly equal. But the reality is that they're not, and you'll reach for the newborn. --- Also those who deny climate change and completely ignore the scientific community support this, so what does that say about the scientific backing of this bill?
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    It is my understanding that all religious groups do NOT define life as beginning at conception. Some believe life begins at birth, some at a specific time after birth. I am a serious Christian who belongs to a church that has opposed abortion since the 1st century. Personally, I have never had an abortion (although as a young, poor woman I got most of my healthcare from Planned Parenthood) nor would I advise anyone to have an abortion. Nevertheless, I am happy NOT to be living in a theocracy. I value the founding principles of separation of church & state and of freedom of religion. It appalls & offends me that many of my co-religionists think they have the right to impose their views on other citizens who do not share those views. We have a growing population of people who see themselves as secular, not Christian. To Christians who feel victimized by this reality, I would note that it has been your negative witness to your faith that has chased generations away from the beliefs you would so gleefully impose on them! SHAME ON YOU!!!
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    "I strongly believe that we should build a culture that respects the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death." [foxnews.com]
    Like (68)
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    A fetus is not viable at conception, it is a woman's choice, completely. The government needs to stop these attacks to perpetuate the war on women who have to decide what to do with her body. Life doesn't begin at conception because a fetus cannot survive without the mother. We need to stop going backwards on these issues and focus on bodily autonomy.
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    Surgical Abortion should be legal but only before 12weeks. The morning after pill must be made readily available by pharmacies.
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    Look I'm prolife but nontraditionally so. Making abortion illegal even by trying to define life as starting at birth whether or not you agree with that is just another way to make abortion illegal and deny people health care. The way to stop abortion is education and birth control because as history has taught us making it illegal does not stop abortions from happening. Why not spend time figuring out how to prevent the unwanted pregnancy in the first place!
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    As a Christian I believe that every life is valuable and every child is a miracle: a gift from God. But I am a man and who am I to tell a woman what to do with her own body? I cannot produce another human being from my own body and therefore cannot presume to understand the personal burdens that come along with carrying a baby full term and then nurturing that child to adulthood. Especially if I am unmarried and do not have solid economic or social foundation. I believe that those contraceptives that are deemed safe and effective by the FDA should be made available to women OTC. I believe that the argument for blocking abortion outright founded in theocratic ideology, and is counter to the traditional common law understanding of when life begins. To block accessibility to safe and effective medicine simply due to religious belief is in direct conflict with separation of church and state laws. Those who argue against abortion and birth control should do their research... Into the second half of the 1800s it was common law to allow abortions until the first movements of the fetus then termed the "quickening." This usually Began occurringh between the 15th & 23rd week of pregnancy. This precedent can be traced back to British common law set in the 1630s. During the early years of the United States our constitutional founders were generally agreed on this rule of thumb. James Wilson wrote, "With consistency, beautiful and undeviating, human life, from its commencement to its close, is protected by the common law. In the contemplation of law, life begins when the infant is first able to stir in the womb. By the law, life is protected not only from immediate destruction, but from every degree of actual violence, and, in some cases, from every degree of danger" -'Of the Natural Rights of Individuals' (1790-1792) The key term here is "in the contemplation of law." Wilson does not write 'in the contemplation of religion.' The idea that abortion and, more broadly, birth control is traditionally amoral and illegal is a fallacy promoted by the religious right. Not until the turn of the 20th century with the rise of evangelism did the topic become a politically divisive issue. In my opinion, the development of birth control has been one of the most if not the most significant emancipatory event for the female gender in the social sphere along with the right to vote and paid maternity leave. The movement to limit female access to birth control is an affront to women's liberties, legal tradition, church & state separation, & the progress of medical science.
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    20% of conceptions end in miscarriages. This legally would require death certificates and government intervention since a PERSON has died. Why do Christians insist on working so hard to get the LAW to validate their beliefs? Show me an example where Jesus was a Political Activist?
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    This is exactly what we need! Right to LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. See how the first word is life? This means that abortion is unconstitutional.
    Like (27)
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    Yes. Life begins with conception.
    Like (26)
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    No. Can this tiny spec of cells live outside the womb on its own? NO. WHEN THE CHILD IS BORN THATS WHEN YOU START COUNTING THE BEGINNING OF HIS/HER LIFE. JUST MY OPINION
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    It is a parasite until it is removed from the belly. Get real.
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    Absolutely! This is a definite case where size does not matter! Whether you call the unborn child a zygote, an embryo, or a fetus, these are all just different stages of the child's development in the womb. Moreover, if a pregnant woman is murdered, isn't it usually called a double homicide?! If a scientist were to find a single-cell organism on, say, Mars, they'd be exclaiming, "There's LIFE on Mars! So it's a bit hypocritical to say that a "clump of cells" that are destined to grow into a human being inside the mother's womb is not LIFE! Can anyone show me where the U.S. Declaration of Independence or the Constitution says that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" were to be guaranteed to a person ONLY after that person left his/her mother's womb?! I thought not!
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    Stop the war on women for humanities sake
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