It seems that Personhood is repeatedly in the news – and rightfully so. Support is swelling right here in Georgia and across the nation for the personhood initiatives that seek to protect all human life from conception forward as a matter of constitutional law. It would restore respect and effective legal protection for all human beings, including the unborn. The idea is simple and bold and ultimately, may provide a direct challenge to the central holding of Roe v Wade, the landmark decision that made abortion legal in the United States.
In our time of science and technology, we know that life begins at conception. It would seem that confusion still exists. Modern medicine is not confused, however. The unborn child is their patient in genetic problems, vitamin deficiencies, spina bifida and more. Consider the case of Samuel, a Georgia boy, operated on at 7 months of pregnancy. The surgery helped repair a major spinal defect and a healthy, active baby boy was the result. I have seen him captivate a room full of people with his bright, smiling face and of course, his favorite truck! Who is the patient, but a tiny unborn human being? These days we protect turtles, wolves, eagles, and whales, and yet we “do away” with babies at the rate of over 400,000 per year.
Legalized abortion has been a part of the American cultural scene since 1973. In the Roe v. Wade decision, Justice Harry Blackmun said that, “(If the) suggestion of personhood [of the preborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the 14th Amendment.” If an unborn child is a person, then their right to life trumps their mother’s right to choose their death. With the states passing of the Personhood Amendment the litigation would eventually be taken up by the Supreme Court. Whether the Supreme Court acts – or how – is an open debate. Previous challenges and pro-life strategies have been viewed in the courts as an attempt to take away from the rights of the mother. The recognition of unborn children as persons does not take away from the mother but recognizes unborn children with all legal rights and protection due them under the 14th amendment.
We cannot continue to diminish the value of any one category of human life – the unborn – without diminishing the value of all human life. The personhood of the unborn child is the single point on which the entire debate turns. This is not the first time America has been divided by a Supreme Court decision that denied the value of human lives. The Dred Scott decision of 1857 was not overturned in a year, or even a decade. The good news was that the minority persisted in their vision and finally prevailed. It will take time to educate, clearly frame and present the issue at hand. Change is possible, however… and it begins with you and with me.
Let Georgia Right to Life help you educate your local chapter, your church or the citizens of your community on the value of Personhood. Contact Suzanne Ward, Director of Public Relations & Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.