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Photograph of 26-week-old baby in womb.Lennart Nilsson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — A Republican Congressman from Colorado introduced legislation to clearly recognize preborn personhood in federal law by replacing every instance of the word “fetus” with “unborn child.”

Introduced last month, Rep. Doug Lamborn’s Recognizing the Unborn Act implements the change across all federal statutes. “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, the term ‘unborn child’ means a child in utero, and the term ‘child in utero’ or ‘child, who is in utero’ means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb,” it reads.

The bill currently has 19 co-sponsors and is pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

“Every single human, born or unborn, is endowed by their creator and deserves the right to life,” Lamborn says. “Far too often, those on the left try to dehumanize and degrade the life of unborn children. My legislation continues to fight to recognize and protect the most vulnerable in our society.”

While the change does not directly prohibit abortion, it is hoped that formally recognizing the preborn in federal law will give added weight toward their protection in judicial or executive interpretation.

Long-settled biological criteria and mainstream scientific and medical textbooks establish that a living human being is created upon fertilization and is present throughout the entirety of pregnancy.

Many abortionists and abortion defenders have admitted as much; in 2019, University of Chicago Department of Comparative Human Development graduate Steve Jacobs found that 96% of more than 5,500 biologists he surveyed agreed, despite overwhelmingly identifying as “liberal,” “pro-choice,” and Democrats, and 63% identifying as “non-religious.”

Further, attorney Josh Craddock has shown that the U.S. Constitution was built on a legal tradition that recognized that personhood exists before birth. “By the time of the Fourteenth Amendment’s adoption [in 1868], ‘nearly every state had criminal legislation proscribing abortion,’ and most of these statutes were classified among ‘offenses against the person,’” he writes.

Craddock also notes that the Fourteenth Amendment’s drafters and sponsors, including Sen. Jacob Howard and Reps. Thaddeus Stevens and John Bingham, expressly declared that its promise of equal protection would apply not merely to those whose personhood had been previously recognized but to, in Bingham’s words, “any human being.”

Regardless, as a practical matter the historical record matters less than whether the U.S. Supreme Court, which is currently considering two major abortion cases, chooses to recognize it. And pro-lifers currently lack the votes to either pass the Recognizing the Unborn Act through the Democrat-controlled Congress or override a veto from pro-abortion President Joe Biden, but the bill still presents an opportunity to publicly highlight the issue and put lawmakers’ reactions on the record.