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At the annual March for Life Jan. 22, pro-life groups will use the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to raise the profile of “personhood.”
The term is used by a movement in state legislatures to define unborn babies as persons, affording them the same guaranteed right to life as all other Americans.
Probably the first definitive statement on the idea came from Justice Harry Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion for Roe v. Wade, when he said:
“The appellee and certain amici [pro-lifers] argue that the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
“The is the first real movement in 37 years since Roe that has got the abortion lobby on its back foot,” Shaun Kenney, executive director for the American Life League, told WND today.
His organization’s Training and Activism Week is among many events already assembled by pro-life organizations to promote life for the unborn.
“Folks are going out and putting referenda, or bills in state legislatures, that an [unborn baby] is, in fact, a human being,” he said. “Currently Roe v. Wade set the bar [for being human] at the moment of birth.”
He cited as an accomplishment Personhood USA’s nomination by one of the nation’s leading abortion industry advocates to its 2009 “Hall of Shame,” for those who pose the greatest threat to abortion.
“We at Personhood USA are honored to be considered one of the top four threats to abortion in America,” Keith Mason, co-founder of the organization, said after the National Abortion Rights Action League made the selection.
“Preborn babies are human beings with a God-given right to live. NARAL is a greedy, bloodthirsty organization, but they have pegged us correctly – Personhood USA is working to outlaw abortion, recognizing the Personhood rights of every child in America,” Mason said.
He said NARAL described Personhood USA as: “The group behind the anti-choice ‘personhood’ measures, Personhood USA, exists solely to establish legal rights for fertilized eggs and trigger legal battles over abortion that could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Not only could the strategy outlaw abortion, but it could even threaten birth control, stem-cell research, and in-vitro fertilization. Working to outlaw abortion makes Personhood USA a strong candidate for Hall of Shame of the year.”
The group, a grassroots Christian coalition, was founded to establish personhood efforts across the nation.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sept. 28 that while personhood measures failed in Montana and North Dakota legislatures earlier this year, “the close votes alarmed supporters of legal abortion.”
According to WND columnist Jill Stanek, pro-life legislators in Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas have also signaled their intent to introduce personhood statutes.
Kenney told WND, “This is a movement that’s catching fire very quickly.”
And it’s the simplest strategy he’s seen for ending abortion in America.
“The personhood amendment says there is a right to exist,” he said. “There’s very little else to be said.”
The problem with the current definition promoted by abortion interests, that life begins at birth, is that it’s a slippery slope, he said. He cited the issues of women’s suffrage, slavery and even the eugenics laws of the early 1900s with which the U.S. has dealt.
“America’s always been on the side of civil rights and justice,” he said. “This has occurred for African-Americans, women, the underprivileged, those with mental disabilities. We’re confident this will occur [again].”
He said his organization is focusing on education on the issue. But he also noted supporters are setting a goal of having more than 35 states either with referenda or legislative proposals for the concept of “personhood.”
“The status quo certainly isn’t working for the 51 million babies who have been aborted in the United States,” he said.