Lila Rose, Pastor Walter Hoye to launch CA Human Rights Campaign today

UPDATE, 1:30p: Per Keith Mason, who heads up PersonhoodUSA.com, the "Bella Movie guys" are producers Jason Jones and Leo Severino. Lead actor Eduardo Verastegui will also help promote the CA initiative. He would have liked to sponsor it, but he is not a US citizen.
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ca human rights amendment logo.jpg

I'm told Lila Rose, Pastor Walter Hoye, Judie Brown, and the "Bella Movie guys" (don't know which ones) will be present to launch the CA Human Rights Campaign at a press conference today in Sacramento....

It is there the group will submit language for the Human Rights Amendment to AG Jerry Brown, to be presented as a 2010 CA ballot initiative if all goes as planned.

The amendment "recognizes the inherent human rights, dignity and worth of all human beings from the beginning of their biological development," said Pastor Hoye in a statement.

This is commonly known as a personhood amendment, and they're popping up everywhere. According to Personhood USA, groups in 17 states are now at various stages of play on this.

The first was CO, where last November's effort was soundly defeated by voters 73-27%. But PersonhoodCO will be baaack with a 2010 voter intiative. (The female speaker you'll see in this video is good friend Leslie Hanks, who comments frequently on this blog and whose little granddaughter Tuesday died tragically of cancer in January.)...

Scanning the blogs, pro-lifers haven't written much about personhood initiatives, although pro-deathers sure have. It's because there are 2 schools of thought here of which you should be aware.

According to Personhood USA:

This Amendment has the promise plugging the "Blackmun hole,'' a startling admission that if personhood could be established for the pre-born, the arguments in Roe would collapse.

Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in the majority opinion for Roe v. Wade in 1973, "The appellee and certain amici [pro-lifers] argue that the fetus is a 'person' within the language and meaning of the 14th 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 Amendment."

During Blackmun's time, the "well-known facts of fetal development" were a far cry from what is known today. Ultrasonography and DNA testing were yet to be invented....

The science of fetology in 1973 was not able to prove, as it can now, that a fully human and unique individual exists at the moment of fertilization and continues to grow through various stages of development in a continuum (barring tragedy) until natural death from old age.

If the Court considers the humanity of the pre-born child, for which there is overwhelming scientific evidence, it could restore the legal protections of person-hood to the pre-born under the 14th Amendment as Blackmun foretold, stopping abortion in a few and then in all 50 states!

But other pro-lifers believe this isn't true. Wrote Americans United for Life's Clarke Forsythe earlier this month:

These "personhood" proposals have the specific aim of "challenging" Roe, yet they are heading toward a brick wall, because they are based on a clear misreading of Justice Blackmun's language in the 1973 decision....

But the mistaken belief is that such a definition will repair an omission in Roe or present facts that the Court didn't know about. This is wrong for several reasons.

The myth has been widely reported that Justice Blackmun stated in Roe that "we don't know when life begins."...

There are several fundamental problems here. 1st, this is a classic case of reading the language out of context. The phrase "suggestion of personhood" in Blackmun's opinion clearly refers to the earlier phrase "within the language and meaning of the 14th Amendment." It does not mean "personhood" in any broader medical, moral, or legal sense. Blackmun is emphasizing the meaning of "person" within the 14th Amendment.

2nd, no state can - by statute or constitutional amendment - change the meaning of the 14th Amendment to the federal constitution. The 14th Amendment can be changed only by another federal constitutional amendment or by the U.S. Supreme Court's changing its interpretation of the 14th Amendment....

Basing state personhood amendments on extrapolations of Blackmun's language in Roe is futile. This does not mean that establishing some form of legal personhood in the states is not a worthy goal. It simply means that (because of our system of federalism) it will not - it cannot - establish 14th Amendment personhood or set up a test case to overturn Roe....

Finally, with the confirmation of pro-abortion Justice Sotomayor, and the likelihood that President Obama will have the opportunity to nominate more pro-abortion justices in the next 3 years, there is no chance that the Court will reconsider Roe as long as Obama is in office. Justice Scalia (who should know) plainly told a legal audience in Europe a few years ago that there was not a majority on the Court to overturn Roe. That's even more certain today.

There are other goals that are more important - and more achievable in the current environment - than an illusory test case to "challenge Roe" based on questions that the current justices simply aren't asking.

I have listened to experts I respect on both sides of this debate and don't know what to think. I do worry Clarke is right.

But because I don't know, and because it goes totally against my grain to expend energy undercutting fellow pro-lifers' efforts (aside from violence and flakes), and because it's never wrong to do the right thing, and because a passed personhood state amendment would be a good problem to have, and because I think public education is critical, I support personhood initiatives.


Comments:

Best case scenario, a state personhood law could force the SCOTUS to revisit Roe and overturn it.

At the very worst, such a state initiative could be struck down by the SCOTUS. But that would shift the burden to congress to either pass an act of congress (a federal law) or a constitutional amendment to establish legal personhood for the unborn.

And at the same time, we would have a vehicle to keep the subject of abortion before the public, and maybe even put enough pressure on the MSM to force them to cover the attending controversy.

So either way, it's a win-win situation for us, and more importantly for the unborn.

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at September 28, 2009 7:20 AM


I think personhood efforts are worthwhile but probably not going to amount to much.

Why? The underlying presumption is that that those who protect abortion "rights" will respect personhood related legislation and rulings. I don't think any of the pro-abortion justices will be swayed by the recognition of personhood whether at the state or federal level.

Also, if those protecting abortion can't even respect the right to life, why should we believe they will respect the rule of law?

As far as opposing personhood efforts, we should always welcome new or expanded efforts instead of opposing them.

On that note, a friend of mine commented on how certain leaders, cliques, and pro-life news services act as kingmakers - they can either make or break an effort, and if they don't like the person behind an effort or the effort itself, they either try to quash it or refuse to promote it. If this is true, than I have to ask if we are all in this to save lives or to save our own power?

So, I suggest that we should support personhood amendments. If large pro-life organizations don't want to spend their time and money on this, so be it, but we shouldn't discourage people from trying this approach.

Posted by: Ruben O at September 28, 2009 7:22 AM


Jill:

Have you considered the beautifully crafted informed consent law in South Dakota that Planned Parenthood has been required to comply with as of July, 2008? Planned Parenthood has fought it tooth and nail because it states the baby in the womb is a "whole, separate, unique, living human being" from the time of conception and that the mother has a "constitutional right" to a relationship with the person in her womb, that would be terminated by abortion. It is a brilliant law and has the abortion clinic basically doing a sidewalk counselor's job. PP defied the law for an entire year, until somebody pulled a Lila Rose and recorded their pathetic attempt at compliance and then SD lowered the boom on them.

Here is the law, it is beautiful: http://legis.state.sd.us/statutes/DisplayStatute.aspx?Type=Statute&Statute=34-23A-10.1

The informed consent law has a very good chance of plugging the Blackmum hole as well, from a completely different angle. Planned Parenthood has shown uncharacteristic reluctance to fight this past the circuit court level, which could indicate that they are afraid it has potential to overturn Roe.

The law is based on scientific fact, including DNA science, and now the only thing left for the pro-aborts to do is parse the word "person" versus "human being," a task that will in the end make them look ridiculous, ala Clinton's "...What the meaning of the word is, is..."

Posted by: Amy at September 28, 2009 7:30 AM


The problem with state personhood amendments is that they will ALL fail. The one last year in Colorado was crushingly defeated 73-27. They will have another one next year which will meet the same fate. All others in other states will go down to devastating defeat. The one in California will of course meet this fate. After all, California voters defeated, I believe by a margin of 52-48, a parental notification amendment last year. Absolutely no way they will vote for a personhood amendment.

All the abortionists have to do is do what they did last year in Colorado and say that we are trying to give "rights" to "eggs" and we will be reduced to our hard core base (in California probably 25%) and that will be the end of it.

The problem with this type of campaign is it will only give us demoralizing landslide defeats. Even worse, it will make our politicians very tentative about pushing unborn human rights, because it will make our cause look politically impotent. I see much bad and not much good coming from these efforts. An enormous amount of time and energy will go into these campaigns, all to no avail.

The personhood movement is really giving itself a labor of Hercules. They are trying to achieve the most difficult goal imaginable, absolute protection of all human beings without exception all the way back, not just to implantation, but to the moment of conception. This is very hard to do. Then they pile on difficulty by trying to do it in a public referendum where our single issue vote is submerged in a sea of general election voters. They pick the most difficult possible goal and then try to achieve it in the most difficult possible way. They will, I believe, never succeed.

Imagine if the abortionists wanted to legalize child killing in a society where children were protected by law. They decide to launch a public referendum campaign in many states. The ballot initiatives they support would advocate unlimited legal unborn child killing right up to birth, including sucking their brains out as they are being born, and leaving them to die after being born alive (the Barack Obama position). They would be defeated even worse than we will be. Now imagine they would insist on absolute unlimited child killing or nothing. They would settle for nothing less. They would simply never win. Killing unborn children would remain permanently illegal.

This would be ludicrous but the abortionists would never do this (and did not do this in the 60s and 70s) because, unlike our movement, they have some strategic understanding. Yet this is precisely in reverse what we propose to do. This is why the abortionists have won in the last forty years and we have not. They may be child killers but they are intelligent and know how to achieve their objectives. We have clearly demonstrated we just do not and this is why the killing continues.

Political campaigns where our single issue vote piggybacks on top of a much larger coalition of voters is a much better way to try to end violence against the unborn.

Posted by: Joe at September 28, 2009 8:18 AM


Joe,
I guess it's time to pray, pray and then pray some more for Personhood Amendments!!

Posted by: carla Author Profile Page at September 28, 2009 8:32 AM


Like Jill, I am of two minds about this, but from the intent of this argument. It does seem that we all speak of 'human' rights and often 'person'-hood. Just one of these words: 'person' is legitimate in legal (narrowly defined) terms. So it seems that an attempt to replace the word 'human' for 'person' is problematic because these are NOT the same thing. A 'human' is a developing/ever-changing/dynamic being ... one aspect of being alive; a person' is a static (legal) term. We would do a massive disservice to our language by boxing any 'person' into the confines of a (legal) label. [Something akin to calling a homosexual partnership, a 'marriage'.]

We already have 'human rights' and do not need 'person rights'. Human rights are EXPRESSED at conception ... one of these is 'the right to life'. [This 'right' demands protection by the state.]

'Person rights' are those EXPRESSED/RECOGNIZED at birth. [It is a development marker of importance, and why we have birthdays. [The two normally coincide in our society, but attaining a legal name is part of 'birth rights'. It could easily be called 'name-day'.]

What is NOT recognized is the intrinsic/inalienable nature of rights. A right is not 'awarded' by a state (any state - merely affirms/recognizes-as-existing a 'right'). A 'right' is not the same as :::: 'becoming-legal'. [That is a part of what being a 'citizen' means. Yet another birth 'right'. Does 'alien' or someone-residing-outside-USA have 'rights' ... meaningless words? We too have 'human rights'!]

Posted by: John McDonell at September 28, 2009 9:00 AM


I think Joe skipped Jill's point that we are to do what is right, not what is politically expedient.

Joe's comments also suggest that the folks in Colorado are ignorant of the results of the previous ballot initiative. Given that Prop 48 in Colorado died 73-27, why do you think Colorado is doing it again?

Posted by: Cranky Catholic at September 28, 2009 9:02 AM


PERSONHOOD IS ABSOLUTE!

“Our fathers, recognizing God as the author of human life, proclaimed it a ‘self evident truth’ that every human being holds from the Creator an inalienable right to live … If this right be denied, no other can be acknowledged. If there be exceptions to this central, this universal proposition, that all men, without respect to complexion or condition, hold from the Creator the right to live, who shall determine what portion of the community shall be slain? And who shall perpetrate the murders?”

~ Joshua R. Giddings, 1858, in reference to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

http://californiahumanrightsamendment.com/content/amendment

Posted by: Leslie Hanks at September 28, 2009 9:07 AM


The first problem is that the Supreme Court does not have the power they claim they do. They shouldn't even be deciding the issue in the first place.

With that said, a few of these may be defeated and a few of them will pass. A pro-life majority Congress may see the momentum and the potential to amend the Constitution. And don't forget, the states can amend the Constitution by calling a convention. I think some underestimate the effects even one passed Personhood measure could generate.

I would say those that say we should wait for a pro-life majority SCOTUS are taking the "cross your fingers and pray" approach. Come on pro-lifers, can it get any worse than decriminalized abortion on demand? How can we "further enshrine" a "right to abortion?"

Keep challenging Roe over and over. Plessy vs. Ferguson was upheld several times before Brown. Any SCOTUS that overturns Roe will also be overturning subsequent decisions like Casey.

This is our opportunity to educate the public about the biological facts of human development and make the moral and philosophical case for inclusiveness and human rights for all human beings. It's a debate we can win.

Posted by: Keith at September 28, 2009 9:18 AM


Go, California! Woot woot! :)

Besides abortion, what all is in here? For a Human Rights Ammendment to be all-inclusive (and stand a better shot at getting passed), it ought to include, for once for all, a women's right part that includes equal pay and equal benefits, a children's rights branch, and a pro-diversity branch discouraging and outright banning prejudice on the basis of race, gender, age, orientation, religious belief, national origin, and disability.

Then 1). we get a wider variety of pro-lifers coming out to support it and people who don't normally even think about abortion coming to support it and 2). it's pr-life in any sense of the word.

I hope that they included this on the Human Right Campaign.

Oh, and Hoye's there. He's so cool. :D

Posted by: Vannah at September 28, 2009 9:35 AM


Oops...I think that I spelled "amendment" wrong. :(

Posted by: Vannah at September 28, 2009 9:37 AM


Vannah, good idea. I might even be tempted to support such a measure. However, you'd loose HisMan's vote with all that talk of equality.

Posted by: Hal at September 28, 2009 9:38 AM


The people promoting these personhood amendments are well intentioned. However, I honestly think that personhood amendments are the wrong strategy. When these Amendments are in the ballot pro-lifers will effectively have to start making the argument that 1)embryonic stem cell research has to be banned (not defunded, but banned) and 2) in-vitro vertilization has to be banned as well.

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement is not well equipped to handle these arguments right now. Sadly resources are limited and I hope that pro-lifers devote their time to that have a better chance of producing some tangible good.

Posted by: The_Cardinal_Rules at September 28, 2009 10:35 AM


"The problem with state personhood amendments is that they will ALL fail. The one last year in Colorado was crushingly defeated 73-27."

Posted by: Joe at September 28, 2009 8:18 AM


The numbers person in my head noticed the 73 to 27.

According to the Census 73% of women have 0-2 children.

27% have 3 or more.


73% of women have 45% of the children.

While 27% have 55% of the children.

What values will those 55% have. We'll have to wait to find out.

Posted by: hippie at September 28, 2009 10:38 AM


Popular opinion has always held that only 10% oppose all
abortion.

Colorado's vote showed that nearly 1/3 are willing to
protect every baby from the beginning of his or her
biological development. Great start!

Yes embryonic stem cell research is evil and spare In-Vitro embryos created should be protected until they are adopted.

Posted by: Leslie Hanks at September 28, 2009 11:15 AM


Yes, we should support the personhood or humanity of the unborn child. No, I don't necessarily believe that a popular amendment is the best way to do it.

I would be interested to see if we can persuade a pro-life governor or attorney general to start enforcing the unborn human rights statute they already have on the books. They would shut down the abortion killing centers and begin prosecuting criminal abortionists and their customers who kill or attempt to kill unborn children. This would be a severe blow to the abortionists, would likely provoke a constitutional crisis and would cause pro-life hopes to soar worldwide.

Obviously, Barack Obama and Eric Holder would move swiftly to protect the abortion crime industry. This would set up a confrontation between state and federal government. The argument has been made that there is nothing in the Constitution which allows the Supreme Court to strike down state statutes and that Roe vs Wade applies only to the parties to the case.

Posted by: Joe at September 28, 2009 12:03 PM


Thanks, Hal. :)

However, I've never heard HisMan say anything against equal rights before. So I'm not sure what you're talking about there.

But you're support for any equal rights is excellent. :)

Posted by: Vannah at September 28, 2009 12:05 PM


Hal:

I don't have a problem with equal rights as guaranteed in our Constitution. In fact, I am more for equal rights than you are Hal. You see, I and my wife let all of our five children live and did not consider our convenience, our circumstance, our wants, our needs, as weight for killing them via abortion. It is you in fact who are for selective rights as long as the implementation of those rights doesn't interfere with how you live and of course, with no regard whatsoever about what God wants.

The exception would be for "orientation". Homosexuality is perversion and I don't think our government should be protecting that since our foundation is Judaeo-Christian. Of course, people like you, who don't believe there is any kind of God or Supreme Being want to make laws fit your self-appointed view of right and wrong which of course makes you, in your own mind, a god, and in my mind, a tyrant. In fact, it is your very belief system (and it is a belief system), i.e., atheism, that is common to some of the most murderous tyrants that have ever lived. Ever heard of Stalin, Lenin, or Mao Tse-Tung, just to name a few? Should I be surprised? No, pro-aborts are guilty of PC-murdering over 53,000,000 children in this country and 4 billion children worldwide since Roe v. Wade. Gee, ya think there just might be an "abortion spirit"?

Now, I don't wish to offend atheists because I know that many are pro-life based simply on reason alone and self-evidence and now, with the advances in science, proof that unborn children are human beings and that life begins at conception. You however, are the worst kind of atheist, since you forego reason by ignoring mountains of scientific, physical, intuitive and spiritual evidence and choose instead to be pro-abortion because of a narcissistic bent totally consumed with self and not to stop there, but present yourself to be this great, all caring "Renaissance" guy, who concerns himself about women's rights, etc. This is a fraud. If you truly cared about women, all women, yes your wife and kids, born and unborn you would be pro-life despite the effects that being so would have on your life.

And you have the unmitigated gall and arrogance to paint me as being ignorant and backward and anti-women? No Hal, a true man can forget about himself.

Vannah:

Now, I tell you this as a person and not a woman for fear of being labeled by Hal types. Your values are a mixed bag of misplaced compassion and bleeding heart sympathy not based on any sort of valid truth. It seems you have a great heart, however, please keep in mind that our fallen nature, unless checked by God's word, leads to perdition.

I suggest you start reading and studying the Bible since you are being led astray on what "seems right unto man but therein leads to death". Good intentions a saint does not make but; living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is all the difference.

Yes, there are things that God considers to be absolute abominations and abortion is one of them and same for homosexuality. I suggest you learn what those things are. Then you can be a voice for God and His truth.

Posted by: Phil Schembri is HisMan at September 28, 2009 12:27 PM


Jill:

Have you considered the beautifully crafted informed consent law in South Dakota that Planned Parenthood has been required to comply with as of July, 2008? Planned Parenthood has fought it tooth and nail because it states the baby in the womb is a "whole, separate, unique, living human being" from the time of conception and that the mother has a "constitutional right" to a relationship with the person in her womb, that would be terminated by abortion. It is a brilliant law and has the abortion clinic basically doing a sidewalk counselor's job. PP defied the law for an entire year, until somebody pulled a Lila Rose and recorded their pathetic attempt at compliance and then SD lowered the boom on them.

Here is the law, it is beautiful: http://legis.state.sd.us/statutes/DisplayStatute.aspx?Type=Statute&Statute=34-23A-10.1

The informed consent law has a very good chance of plugging the Blackmum hole as well, from a completely different angle. Planned Parenthood has shown uncharacteristic reluctance to fight this past the circuit court level, which could indicate that they are afraid it has potential to overturn Roe.

The law is based on scientific fact, including DNA science, and now the only thing left for the pro-aborts to do is parse the word "person" versus "human being," a task that will in the end make them look ridiculous, ala Clinton's "...What the meaning of the word is, is..."

Posted by: Amy at September 28, 2009 7:30 AM
********************

This is a great point Amy. The legal precedence has already been established and it would seem to my untrained legal mind to accomplish essentially the same thing as a personhood amendment.

If this is where the truth has established a beachhead, in my mind the best strategy would be to focus our resources exploiting this breach in the enemy's defenses (which is nothing more than a wall of lies.)

Thanks for the link Amy.

Posted by: Ed at September 28, 2009 12:31 PM


Interesting discussion.

I thought people might appreciate knowing about an
objection to the personhood initiatives, not mentioned yet here, that Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Institute brings up.

Klusendorf's comments are to be found in an interview on Josh Brahm's Life Report podcast. The relevant section starts at 22:12.

In addition to the objections raised here by Joe, Klusendorf argues that the personhood movement is effectively accepting the pro-abortion side's terms of debate -- agreeing with them that there is a quality called "personhood," separate from mere humanity, which can be legally granted or withdrawn from certain classes of human beings.

(Please note that I'm posting this because I think folks here will take interest in Klusendorf's points, and I think they deserve to be considered and responded to; I do not intend by this post to be "taking sides" in the debate.)

Eric Scheidler
Executive Director
Pro-Life Action League

Posted by: Eric Scheidler at September 28, 2009 12:47 PM


Hisman, you never disappoint. Thanks for proving my point.

Posted by: Hal at September 28, 2009 1:11 PM


Vannah,

On the surface, I really like your idea to expand the meaning of "pro-life" to include initiatives that promote equality across the board. Bringing up abortion in the context of equality and protection from discrimination is an interesting idea. It can encourage "backwards thinking" in groups that are concerned with discrimination, causing them to see a connection between their plight for equality and that of the unborn. And I realize that this is just a tentative idea on your part, and it's not as if you submitted this comment as a finalized proposal. So don't think I'm trying to be overly critical when I do understand that you aren't claiming that your idea in it's current form addresses all possible complications. With that in mind, here's what stops me from being completely on board:

I simply cannot equate the, however sincere, desire for a state sponsored marriage arrangement with the desire to abolish abortion. It is lumping in the (understandable) wants of those with a different sexual preference to the basic human right to be alive. Since individual states set the requirements for marriage licenses, I have absolutely no problem with voter initiatives to expand marriage eligibility. I just find fetal rights and marriage rights to be on the complete opposite ends of the equality spectrum. Now, if your idea of a Human Rights Amendment concerning orientation merely included protection from discrimination regarding employment and the like(and leave the push for marriage-granting provisions to a separate intitiative), then we're on the same page. I think it would be much easier to get people on board the "human rights and equal access for all!" campaign than to convince people that true equality can be achieved only when marriage laws are altered. In the minds of many concerned citizens, that's opening up a Pandora's box of unaddressed legal implications regarding speech, religion and commerce, and too much of a loaded issue in itself.

Posted by: Janette at September 28, 2009 4:18 PM


I think the explanation of the situation made by AUL is quite convincing. And, they are much more specific and more knowledgeable about the relevant legal and court issues. I certainly appreciate the goal of Personhood USA, but I wonder whether it is the most effective use of precious time, resources, and public energy to engage in something that looks like it is ultimately doomed to fail.

I think we have to be wise how we go about doing things. Just because something considered by itself is good and noble and true, does not mean it will be able to attain the intended goal. Is it a wise strategy? As per the AUL reasoning, I just don't see how there is any chance at all of it succeeding at the supreme court. And if it does not succeed there, it will not change anything regarding the legal situation of abortion.

Also, here is another worry. If the SC were to eventually take a case based on a state Personhood amendment,rather than decline it (which is what I suspect would happen), the resulting decision against the amendment would only make future efforts to overturn Roe at the SC more difficult. Every decision by the high court that goes on the books, against life, makes the precedent further hardened in place. It seems to me that without a reasonable chance of winning at the SC (which there doesn't seem to be), it would actually be worse to bring a case to the court and lose than to not bring the personhood amendment issue into the SC at all.

Also, the issue Eric brings up is significant. Personhood as per the SC's interpretation of the US Constitution pertains to when human beings are legally recognized as having a certain status under the law. It is not concerned with when a human being becomes a person, speaking in an ontological and philosophical sense.

Correct me if I am wrong, but as things stand now in the United States, there are two types of 'person.' First, there is 'person' according to whether an individual is recognized by the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution as having full and equal rights under the law as a citizen of the U.S. Second, there is 'person' as understood philosophically (as well as how this intersects with biology).

You could spend all kinds of time nailing down using a combination of biological and philosophical evidence that a human being becomes a person at the moment of conception; that, in fact, a human being is a person as soon as he is a human being. And in fact this has been done by any number of sound thinkers for some time now. But, this does not make any difference as far as the SC and its interpretation of the Constitution. Why? Because historically the court is not interested in the ontological and philosophical reality of personhood. It is interested in its own recognition of personhood as relevant only for citizenship and legal purposes.

Personhood according to the first notion above is something [i]granted[/i] by the court, ultimately granted by the Constitution. It is not an intrinsic reality built into the nature of the human being (this is the view of our courts). Now, this is not the way it should be. Personhood, in actual fact, is intrinsic to being human and has nothing to do with what a court or a constitution grants. But this is not the legal reality we live in, unfortunately. Am I wrong?

I also acknowledge that there is perhaps a good deal of positive pedagogical potential in trying to pass state amendments. And maybe for this reason it is worth the effort even if it doesn't succeed in the courts.

Posted by: Scott Johnston at September 28, 2009 4:47 PM


No, I get what you're saying, Janette. :)

All in all, I kind of was wondering if there ought to be a difference between a Human Rights Amendment (spelled it correctly this time- so proud) and an amendment with other rights. I agree: it's important to establish that human rights come first, but by anti-discrimination (sp?) I meant something along the lines that you can't beat someone to death for being gay. Not just gay marriage, which I consider a civil rights issue unrelated to abortion.

So I agree with you- though I should have been more clear that I meant anti-violence measures, not just against gays or unborn children, but women (and human rights for women include equal pay in my opinion since that directly affects all things related to women's rights) and all religions, et cetera.

Actually, uh, this is kind of shameful to admit, but that confusion was born of my refusal to use the word "discrimination" since I'm not sure if that's the correct way of spelling it. Heh...
:|

But, yeah... :)

Posted by: Vannah at September 28, 2009 5:10 PM


John, you're wrong about the words "person" and "human". They are, according to most dictionaries, interchangeable when they are used in the biological sense. They mean the same thing in every usage except the legal. And yes, we need "person rights" because that's how the unborn are denied their "human rights" now.

Vannah, we already have laws against killing born people, except in self-defense, war, etc. But I would certainly welcome any law that prohibited all forms of discrimination, including (but not limited to) elective abortion.

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at September 28, 2009 5:27 PM


Colorado's Personhood 2010 co-sponsor Gualberto Garcia Jones
weighs in:

Scott Klusendorf is wrong on his two premises:

Philosophical: he states, there should be no distinction between a human being and a person. There are numerous problems with this, but the most obvious is that the language of the constitution and of the law, which is our way of protecting the values we hold dear, protects persons not human beings.

The Bill of Rights uses the word person numerous times, because that is the legal way of referring to a human being who has rights and responsibilities. It would be great if the constitution and Roe hadn't made that distinction, but the fact of the matter is that the central holding of Roe is a legal one, namely that only persons have rights, and that preborn human beings are not persons.

If Scott thinks that the United States supreme court, didn't know the science that pointed out to us that human beings were human beings before birth, then he's got something else coming. There is also the very real philosophical debate about ensoulment, which Catholics for one believe is a prerequisite to personhood.

Catholics explain the need to protect early humans whom we don't know have been ensouled by the very simple and beautiful logic that killing a human being without a soul is a bigger crime, if possible, than killing a human being with a soul, since the human being with a soul has a possibility to know God, whereas the human being without a soul does not. You may disagree with this, but it shows why it is important to differentiate a human being from a person.

Legal: Scott erroneously equates personhood not having passed with it being a failed strategy. The fact of the matter is that personhood has not once been in consideration directly before the supreme court since Roe, and has only been voted on once (2008 in Colorado.)

Regulation on the other hand has been used to reaffirm Roe 25 times directly in the Supreme Court and hundreds of times by Federal Courts which have been upheld by the Supreme Court. What has been lacking all these years in the pro-life movement is support from people like Scott, the churches, and the political parties. Pro-lifers simply have shown a scary habit of putting their faith in courts, not in God.

It is a shame that so many pro-lifers who talk so much about God, would show so little faith.

Posted by: Leslie Hanks at September 28, 2009 5:42 PM


Clarke does not understand that personhood amendments are based on a Tenth Amendment theory of constitutional law , which federalist judges specifically have mentioned as the alternative to Roe. For those judges, the right to an abortion and the prohibition of abortions are not in the US Constitution. Therefore, those judges are waiting for the states to present a bold Tenth Amenent challenge, something Clarke forsythe is he'll bent on preventing (such as in ND in early 2009) when he and the ND Catholic Conference were the only ones to oppose it (that's right, PP didn't have to do it.)
Tenth Amenent jurisprudence is the foundation for the police powers of the states. The police power, in turn, is the basis for all state police, health, and safety laws. This, as opposed to a tortured 14th Amendment approach is the right approach, and yet it has never been tried! Still, pro-lifers are shooting down pro-lifers to prevent the attempt. I could understand it if we were pushing a morally compromised concept, but universal human personhood?
Roe has been reaffirmed explicitly dozens of times, but never based on it's central holding of personhood, i.e. Regulatory bills, not personhood, should bear the brunt of the blame for our current sad state of affairs.
Isn't it time we combined our hard work with faith in the rightness of our cause? Stop thinking about success and let's start thinking about faithfulness, only then will we be worthy advocates.
Gualberto from his iPhone (please excuse my typos)

Posted by: Gualberto at September 28, 2009 6:16 PM


Vannah,

Cool. Then we're on the exact same page :)

Additionally, I think a lot of knee-jerk opposition to the pro-life movement is due to misconceptions and unfair stereotypes (ie: motivated solely by religious feelings, being anti-woman). I believe there are many people who, when presented with the facts and human rights based reasoning, would agree to technically being pro-life, but who are hesitant to align themselves with the sort of people they perceive as typical of the movement. And I think a good way to take back control of our image is to redefine the argument. Talking about the unborn in the context of human rights and equality is an excellent way to pull ourselves out of marginalization and appeal to those who feel they don't have a place among us.

Posted by: Janette at September 28, 2009 7:39 PM


Hi Doyle,

Am very glad you got back to me. I do agree that except for legal reality, the two words 'human' and 'person' are interchangeable words ... [except perhaps, the Christian doctrine of 'the Triune God.] Is it possible to alter what is?

It is possible to view each as a continuum of existence. 'Human' as beginning at conception, including all 'human rights'. [This implies active protection /promotion by the state. Death (which include abortion and euthanasia) can never be pursued/permitted/promoted as beneficial.] After gestation/birth a new being has not come about, but a new frame of reference is added ... a legal entity, 'a human-person'. In many circumstances a naming and a forum for citizenship where the familial becomes public.

This not only solves the silly debate between 'human' and 'person', but it does note that there is a legal and experiential difference between the two, without any 'right to kill' either one (really all 'humans). The federal state is compelled to extend its protective powers to 'all humans', and not just legal-persons. Such powers likely are not coercive (like police regulations), but bent toward educating.

Given Vannah's posts to promote 'equality', it values the differences of each human stage without articulating each in distinct terms.

We pro-lifer's seek the prohibition of abortion - the prohibition of what we consider murder. Rather than a prohibition to a positive 'right'; perhaps we should be seeking a state issued prevention. The ends are the same, the medicine to get there, may be more-to-ones-liking.

Posted by: John McDonell at September 28, 2009 8:54 PM


"If Scott thinks that the United States supreme court, didn't know the science that pointed out to us that human beings were human beings before birth, then he's got something else coming. There is also the very real philosophical debate about ensoulment, which Catholics for one believe is a prerequisite to personhood."

That entire argument is a failed one from the outset, because the SCOTUS might have known the science which tells us that human beings are human beings before birth, but that didn't stop them from overtly ignoring it in the Roe decision. Blackmun went as far as to say that if personhood were ever to be considered by the court on its own, it would overturn the entire verdict.

(“The [state of Texas] argue[s] 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, [Jane Roe’s] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.”)

...and I'm not entirely certain if it was this same Justice, but I seem to remember another stating something about how medical science and technology had not yet progressed far enough to consider the humanity of the pre-born, but to that I say "We've come a long way, baby." There's so much more to be considered now scientifically evidence-wise that I think a law establishing personhood of the pre-born should be given a serious look.

I don't know what all that "ensoulment" stuff has to do with anything, though...

Posted by: xalisae at September 28, 2009 10:39 PM


The use of the term "person" has an interesting history. Most of the time, we have used that word interchangeably with "human/human being". The exceptions are the interesting part.

When we did not want to treat African slaves with dignity, we said that they were not "people". When the Nazis did not want to treat Jews with dignity, they said the Jews were not "people".

So it seems that anytime a society wishes to treat some of it's members with less dignity than others, they declare that the group they don't like are not "people". It's a transparent and cruel way to put hatred into a euphemistic expression.

All we have to do is make the term "people" into an exclusionary term by defining some of us as people and others as "not people". Never mind that we know they are human beings like us, we just need a way to discriminate against them in the way most convenient to us: declare them to be "non-persons".

Our language has never even had a word for a "non-person". And if you look up the term "non-person", you will find something like this:

non-person • noun a person regarded as non-existent or insignificant. www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/nonperson?view=uk

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at September 29, 2009 5:56 AM


This point about personhood amendments making IUDs and the pill illegal....

I hope the pro-tearing-children-apart-ers keep making this point, and loudly.

Enough so that eventually, more people start saying, "That doesn't make sense. Why is that?"

These things depend on ignorance for as many people to be using them as are. To expose the pill widely as an abortifacient would be a victory itself.

By the way, this would not prevent IVF from happening. It might prevent pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of IVF embryos (if it were shown that having a cell removed damaged them, or if it were shown that cell was as much a person as the remaining clump of 7 cells). (For some, of course, such as those who carry genes for severe genetic defects, this is the reason why they choose IVF). It would prevent the disposal of "defective" children even if PGD persisted. It might lead to forcing couples/clinics/court-appointed guardians/some other entity making available for use of other couples any frozen embryos that were left over. It might (one would hope) prevent the creation and freezing of more embryos than the couple could use at once. But there is no reason to believe that putting a woman on drugs to produce a large number of eggs, fertilizing a reasonable number of those eggs, and immediately transferring the resulting zygotes/blastocysts to the womb would be banned.

Posted by: ycw at September 29, 2009 10:06 AM


In light of John McDonell's comment above, there are actually three types of persons: human persons, angels (including demons which are fallen angels), and divine persons (the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

All three have this in common: they have reason and free will; they can think and make genuine free choices about what acts they want to do. They are aware of and alive to their own individual self-identity. Their free actions are truly chosen in themselves, out of their own personal self-identity and self-possession. They either have this full ability always (angels and the divine persons), or they at least possess it in potential as something that they will come to posses in the normal course of development (human persons). In other words, persons have intellects by which they can know, and free wills with which they can act. (this can be added to with good personalist philosophy [e.g. persons are "beings-in-relation"], but this is a bare minimum)

Posted by: Scott Johnston at September 29, 2009 11:53 AM


"Personhood: it will never pass."
With God, all things are possible.

Posted by: Row1 at September 30, 2009 8:17 AM