Monday, September 28, 2009

Pro-Life Forces See Roe v.Wade as Vulnerable

From the Los Angeles Times, "A New Push to Define 'Person,' and to Outlaw Abortion in the Process":

It is one of the enduring questions of religion and science, and lately of American politics: When does a fertilized egg become a person?

Abortion foes, tired of a profusion of laws that limit but do not abolish abortion, are trying to answer the question in a way that they hope could put an end to legalized abortion.

Across the country, they have revived efforts to amend state constitutions to declare that personhood -- and all rights accorded human beings -- begins at conception.

From Florida to California, abortion foes are gathering signatures, pressing state legislators and raising money to put personhood measures on ballots next year. In Louisiana, a class at a Catholic high school is lobbying state legislators as part of a civics exercise.

"We have big and small efforts going on in 30 states right now," said Keith Mason, co-founder of Colorado-based Personhood USA. "Our goal is to activate the population."

Critics deride the effort as the "egg-as-person" movement and say it threatens in vitro fertilization; some kinds of birth control, including IUDs and pills; and stem cell research. They say that Americans will reject it as a government intrusion into their privacy.

"It's a backdoor abortion ban," said Ted Miller, spokesman for NARAL Pro-Choice America, which has worked with Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups to defeat such measures.

Since the mid-1970s, polls have found that about three-quarters of Americans support legalized abortion in at least some circumstances.

But this year, for the first time since the Gallup Poll started asking people in 1995 whether they identified themselves as "pro-life" or "pro-choice," a slight majority of Americans (51%) picked "pro-life."

Proponents of personhood measures root their hopes in the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, in which Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the majority that a fetus is not legally a person.

Establishing personhood would topple the rationale for legal abortion, their thinking goes, though many people on both sides of the abortion debate consider this logic farfetched.

Defeats of personhood measures around the country -- notably in Colorado, which in 2008 became the first state to put a measure before voters -- have not daunted proponents, a loose confederation of evangelical Christian and Catholic antiabortion groups.

Mason said he had been inspired by other struggles -- against slavery, for women's suffrage, for gay rights."

I don't agree with the homosexual agenda, but I say, look at the tenacity of what they have done to fight for what is right," he said."I don't believe that just because we will not get enough votes in an election that we should not do this. I don't recall Martin Luther King checking the polls to see if he was right on civil rights."

Today, Mason will join activists in Sacramento to announce a signature-gathering campaign for an initiative to amend California's Constitution and define a person as a human starting at conception.

More at the link.

Video Credit: Jill Stanek, "
Lila Rose, Pastor Walter Hoye to launch CA Human Rights Campaign today":

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.
Be sure to read the rest of Jill's post for the internal movement debate on overturning Roe v. Wade.