‘Personhood’ is the key
Don’t look now, but the pro-abortion movement, particularly those with radical ideas about second- and third-trimester abortions, have opened the door to a conversation it has attempted to avoid, and from which it may never recover. The topic: the personhood of the unborn child.
Whether they know it or not, the seminal question about abortion no matter how you frame it is exactly that: when can the unborn be considered a person? To answer that question means that the entire argument of pro-choice becomes moot. And, with the spate of radical pro-abortion laws in New York and other states, allowing abortion virtually up to the time of delivery, that question moves to the forefront.
States such as Georgia, Alabama and others have imposed a 20-week limit on abortion with “heartbeat” bills, with the underlying posture that these unborn are individuals in need of protection. In other words, they have become “persons.” So-called “progressive” states deny that.
Case in point: This past week, the Illinois legislature debated a law which specifically denies “personhood” to the unborn. That has implications that have yet to be realized. What Illinois is saying is that an unborn baby has no protection of the law as long as it is in utero. To say this is chilling is to understate it. But, it also brings into focus the primary question.
For example, the Illinois law as we understand it would not protect the unborn child in the case of violent attack. A woman can be attacked and the child dies in the attack. Under the laws of many states, the person making the attack is liable for a murder charge. Not so in Illinois.
This is a question these pages brought up many years ago. Abortion advocates were declaring the unborn “blobs of cells,” or “incomplete,” states were convicting alleged attackers for murder. We said then this sometimes-yes, sometimes-no, approach was illogical and going to bring to the fore the basic question of personhood.
Radical abortion advocates have denied the argument over abortion mimic those used in the slavery controversies in the 1800s. In fact, with the focus now on the personhood of the unborn, that parallel is all the more obvious, and is being seen by both sides of the aisle.
Pro-slavery advocates saw slaves as property, not people. That was the issue. Even then, pro-slavery forces wanted their “property” counted as people for the purposes of representation. Thus, the so-called “three-fifths” article was included in the original drafting of the Constitution. Even then both sides saw the issue was not settled, and question of personhood remained.
Pro-abortion advocates have sharpened the focus of the personhood question themselves with the move toward more radical abortion laws. The pro-choice side sees the woman – the owner of the unborn child, if you will – as the sole decider of its fate. In effect, she is the owner. It is her property. Pro-lifers see the unborn as an individual endowed with those “unalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.
There is no doubt the pro-abortion side has taken its lead from the fact that President Donald Trump has appointed two Supreme Court justices and more than 100 federal judges with a conservative bent. The Roe v. Wade decision, based as it is on “emanations” and “penumbras,” is bad law. That is admitted by both sides. Pro-abortion advocates have looked to enshrine more radical laws in mostly blue states.
Our own senator, Richard Blumenthal, has introduced a bill that, essentially, denies personhood to the unborn by imposing no restrictions on abortion, nor allowing any governmental agency to make those impositions. His bill, euphemistically called, “the Woman’s Health Protection Act.”
The matter will not end until the seminal question is answered: what makes a person, and when are the rights of personhood conveyed?