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July 09, 2024 11:45 AM UTC

Decoding Trump's "Personhood" Platform Plank: Don't Be Fooled

  • by: Colorado Pols
Former Colorado GOP chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown.

As the Republican Party heads for their national convention next week to anoint Donald Trump as their nominee for President of the United States for a third consecutive election, there’s been some much-publicized consternation from some religious conservatives over what they perceived to be a Trump-engineered pivot on the issue of abortion–an issue that, toxic as it may be for Republicans in general elections, is high on the agenda for social conservatives reveling in the repeal of Roe v. Wade two years ago by Trump’s signature Supreme Court. NBC News reports:

At the urging of former President Donald Trump and his allies, the Republican Party is set to abandon a decadeslong push for a federal abortion ban and soften its stance on same-sex marriage in its platform, according to changes made in a draft policy platform passed Monday morning ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

The new draft party platform, which still must get approval from the full Republican National Committee, came after the Trump campaign made a quiet push to keep those seen as too socially conservative off the platform committee out of concern that they would make a vocal push for things like a federal abortion ban, which has consistently been unpopular in public polling…

The problem with this narrative, as Colorado’s leading abortion rights group Cobalt retorts in a statement today, is that the actual language of the GOP’s platform plank on abortion encodes the no-exceptions abortion ban language Colorado voters are already well aware of from the “Personhood” abortion ban ballot measures repeatedly knocked down in recent years. In short, the party’s longstanding dream of a nationwide abortion ban is still in there, hiding behind the “Personhood” movement’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment:

The exact language in the platform states: “Republicans Will Protect and Defend a Vote of the People, from within the States, on the Issue of Life We proudly stand for families and Life. We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied Life or Liberty without Due Process, and that the States are, therefore, free to pass Laws protecting those Rights”

According to Cobalt President Karen Middleton: “The Republican platform endorses something anti-abortion extremists have been pushing for years – recognizing fertilized eggs as ‘people’ under the 14th Amendment. [Pols emphasis] We in Colorado are familiar with ‘personhood’ abortion bans, because we’ve defeated them three times at the ballot box – 2008, 2010, and 2014.

‘Personhood’ would ban all abortions without exception, IVF, and many forms of birth control. This is what Alabama passed with Amendment 2. The Republican platform amounts to ‘Alabamas Everywhere’.

Extremist anti-abortion groups are already praising the platform for its ‘personhood’ language. Between this and overturning Roe, it’s clear that Trump’s Republican Party will not stop until they have banned abortion nationwide. And it’s yet again proof that we MUST secure abortion rights in the Colorado Constitution this fall.”

Ten years ago, GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner tried to word-parse his way out of responsibility for a federal “Personhood”-style bill he had co-sponsored, asserting the bill was a “statement of principle” and not in fact an abortion ban from the moment of fertilization. Gardner’s pivot away from his earlier strident anti-abortion position in 2014 helped Gardner win a one-term U.S. Senate seat, but the subsequent history of right-wing Supreme Court Justices supported by Gardner who repealed Roe v. Wade, thus ending the nationwide guarantee of abortion rights, turned Gardner’s false pivot into a cautionary tale that voters cannot ignore in future elections.

At the same time, a large segment of anti-abortion voters who were thrilled by Roe’s repeal simply do not agree that “returning the issue to the states” is a satisfactory outcome. Responding to the party’s new abortion platform plank, former Colorado GOP chair and “Personhood” poster child Kristi Burton Brown made it clear that “letting states decide” abortion rights is not compatible with her beliefs:

[W]hoever wrote the platform on life doesn’t understand the 14th Amendment. States are not “free” to protect these rights; they *must* protect them. Human rights for ALL.

This is of course the logical conclusion if one believes that the 14th Amendment protects fertilized human embryos like people. If that’s what you believe, how can abortion possibly be a “state’s rights” issue? This seeming contradiction in reality exposes the full agenda of the anti-abortion movement, which extends well beyond the repeal of Roe to the eradication of abortion rights across the entire country. For Kristi Burton Brown, nothing short of that will ever be sufficient.

Trump’s campaign is aware that abortion rights are a major liability for Republicans going into the general election, just like it was in the 2022 midterm elections–even more so now that the harmful effects of Roe’s repeal in anti-abortion states have become evident. That’s why they’re allowing this faux dissent over a platform plank that gives anti-abortionists just about everything they want. The problem is that the nationwide abortion ban that would spell doom for Republicans politically is the unapologetic objective of anti-abortion activists like Kristi Burton Brown. In 2022, Brown as GOP chair helped undermine U.S. Senate candidate Joe Odea’s dubious pivot to the center on abortion by reminding voters that O’Dea didn’t speak for Republicans like her.

Colorado voters have seen this all before, and the polls say they’ll know better in 2024 than they did in 2014.


6 thoughts on “Decoding Trump’s “Personhood” Platform Plank: Don’t Be Fooled

  1. Kristi Burton Brown does not speak for Republicans like me. And, Mr. Conservative himself, the late Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), was pro-choice.

  2. “…14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied Life or Liberty without Due Process…” Oh yeah? And if a woman is told by her o.b. that she is experiencing a non-viable or even life-threatening pregnancy. isn’t she being sentenced without due process?

    1. Ah, but according to the "Originalists" on SCOTUS (i.e., the arrogant rank amateur historians masquerading as judges), we have to interpret the 14th Amendment based on the original meaning of the framers of the 14th Amendment (except, of course, when it does not produce the RWNJ-preferred result).  


        1. Absolutely.  What is so angering is the abject cruelty and complete lack of empathy, sympathy, and compassion for fellow human beings.  Kinda like the nazis.  Don't wanna die from eclampsia?  Avoid Texas.  Makes me wish Mexico had won the war. 

  3. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 

    Non-person Mike Pence is reported as opposing the approach:

    Pence, who ran against Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, called the new language "a profound disappointment to the millions of pro-life Republicans that have always looked to the Republican Party to stand for life," in a statement circulated by his nonprofit political advocacy group Advancing American Freedom…..

    "Now is not the time to surrender any ground in the fight for the right to life. The 2024 platform removed historic pro-life principles that have long been the foundation of the platform. I urge delegates attending next week's Republican Convention to restore language to our party's platform recognizing the sanctity of human life and affirming that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed," Pence said.

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