Put Personhood Amendments Aside, Focus on Ending Abortion
by Steven Ertelt | LifeNews.com | 11/10/11 3:01 PM
With the defeat of the personhood amendment in Mississippi, it’s time for the pro-life movement to put aside these amendments and focus on the task at hand: ending abortion and protecting unborn children under law.
The sponsors of the personhood amendments have a great goal — define human life starting at fertilization. After all, what pro-life advocate doesn’t understand that the scientific beginning of human life is at conception. Anyone who has passed 8th grade biology ought to understand that the coming together of sperm and egg confers into existence a unique human being with all of the DNA necessary to make them who they will be after nine months of growth and development.
However, as a legal strategy for ending abortion, personhood amendments are another matter entirely.
The Personhood Amendment Will Not Ban Abortion
As LifeNews reported, personhood language is nothing new — even the state of Texas, whose abortion prohibition became the subject of the Roe v. Wade case that toppled pro-life bans on abortion at the time, contained language declaring unborn children are persons starting at conception. Other states have followed suit with similar personhood language, but the Supreme Court has expressed again and again, in Roe, Akron, Webster, Casey and other prominent abortion cases, that such language can’t be used to end abortions. We’re going on almost four decades of states defining human life at fertilization, yet we’ve experienced the travesty of more than 54 million abortions.
Knowing the personhood amendment will not challenge abortion law or overturn Roe (at best the Supreme Court would uphold the language but declare it not applicable to abortion laws, at worst some top pro-life attorneys argue it could be used to reaffirm Roe and unlimited abortions) sponsors of the amendments are pushing forward with more of them for 2012 and beyond.
Voters in Pro-Life, Swing States Are Reluctant to Pass Personhood Amendments
The first votes on personhood amendments took place in Colorado, a formerly conservative red state that, thanks to an influx of new residents from places like California and New York, has swung purple. There’s a reason why Barack Obama came to Denver to launch his 2008 campaign. Colorado is a swing state that every political observer says is key to whether or not pro-abortion President Barack Obama gets another four years in office.
Yet, as a swing state that is far less liberal than the West Coast states or those in the northeast like Massachusetts, Colorado overwhelmingly defeated the personhood amendment. Twice.
The 2010 amendment lost by a 70-30 percentage point margin as Amendment 62 failed to gain a majority in any Colorado county. Colorado voters defeated Amendment 48 in 2008 by a 73-27 percentage margin. The 2010 Colorado personhood amendment received the support of more than 100,000 fewer voters than in 2008 — and that was in an election cycle that was a banner one for conservatives and Republicans.
Now the amendment has received a vote on one of the most solidly conservative and pro-life red states in the nation. Mississippi has passed virtually every pro-life law imaginable — to the point that just one abortion business remains in the state. Democratic presidential candidates don’t bother to campaign in Mississippi because it is so strongly conservative and it is so solidly pro-life that both of the gubernatorial candidates — Democrat and Republican — in Tuesday’s election were pro-life.
Yet, the amendment failed in Mississippi, and the 58-42 percentage point margin wasn’t close as the amendment failed by more than 130,000 votes out of nearly 800,000 cast. That 58-42 percentage point margin is the almost the same as the blowout of 1984 when Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale in one of the top five most lopsided races in presidential history.
As pro-life political scientist and abortion law researcher Michael New explains, if the amendment can’t win in Mississippi, it’s likely not going to win anywhere in the current political climate.
“It is difficult to see where Personhood proponents go from here. Tuesday’s election offered Personhood supporters their best opportunity for electoral success. They qualified a citizen initiative in Mississippi — among the most pro-life states in the country — during a low-turnout election in which Democrats fielded relatively weak statewide candidates,” he explains. “In spite of all this, the Mississippi Personhood Amendment still lost by a double-digit margin.”
Pushing Personhood Amendments Further Damages the Pro-Life Movement
Knowing that the personhood amendment lost by a landslide twice in a swing state and a lopsided 17-point margin in arguably the most pro-life state in the nation, there’s little realistic expectation that the personhood amendment will be approved anywhere in the country. As the amendment continues to rack up defeats, support from pro-life advocates willing to invest in what will almost assuredly be a losing proposition will wane. Media reports will continue focusing on the pro-life movement losing at the polls and the pro-abortion side will continue gloating that they are in the majority despite clear polling data showing America is pro-life. Read more here.