Monday, November 2, 2009

PersonhoodUSA Working to Redefine Zygotes as Persons.

The organization was founded a year ago after Amendment 48, slated to define fertilized eggs as persons, failed to pass in Colorado. They are an umbrella organization that works to coordinate efforts to amend state constitutions to define a fertilized egg, or zygote, as a person, and thus protected by all civil rights given a person.

PersonhoodUSA has 37 state-level affiliates, and 7 are hoping to land amendments on ballots in 2010 and some have estimated that they have raised more than $60 million in the past five years.

Prior anti-abortion efforts have been to limit access. PersonhoodUSA is aimed at redefining when life begins. In other words restrictions are not enough. Abolishing abortion, state by state is their purpose. They describe themselves as:

a grassroots Christian organization founded to establish personhood efforts across America to create protection for every child by love and by law. Personhood USA is committed to assisting and supporting Personhood Legislation and Constitutional Amendments and building local pro-life organizations through raising awareness of the personhood of the pre-born. When the term “Person” is granted to a human being, it refers to the presence of a particular set of characteristics that grant that individual certain rights such as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As Sarah Kliff writes in the November 2 issue of Newsweek:

The personhood strategy grew out of a line in Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision legalizing abortion, in which Justice Harry Blackmun responded to the argument of the state of Texas that a fetus is a person under the Fourteenth Amendment. "If this suggestion of personhood is established," Blackmun wrote, "[Jane Roe's] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the amendment." So if personhood begins at conception, the thinking goes, Roe falls apart.

While establishing personhood (under the auspices of Human-Life Amendments) was pursued at the state level and nationally in the mid- to late- 70's the efforts failed squarely. The tactic languished until the early 2000s when a new generation of anti-abortion activists thought to pick up the strategy again.

In California, PersonhoodUSA is calling their initiative, "California Human Rights Amendment." In Nevada, the initiative will define life as beginning with fertilization and ending with natural death, in an effort to halt abortion and the burgeoning Death with Dignity movement.

Read more here, here, and here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, just thank you for doing this work.

January 15, 2010 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger Ann Neumann said...

Thanks for writing, Anon. Encouragement is a wonderful thing! Best, best, Ann

January 15, 2010 at 5:27 PM  

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