In the wake of the recent Mississippi personhood vote, commentators on both sides of the question appear to be unified in a peculiar way. Whether reading the pro-death rants or the pro-life analyses, it is clear that political calculations played a larger role than did dedication to teaching fellow Americans the truth about human rights and their undeniable importance.
Life News detailed the history of various United States Supreme Court decisions, including the 1989 Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision that dealt specifically with how a finding of personhood would impact abortion. “In Webster, Rehnquist makes it clear that the personhood amendment is little more than statement of position, a feel good declaration made by a state that sets forth what it believes in terms of the beginning of human life but not something that has any effect on the status of legalized abortion: ‘This Court has emphasized that Roe implies no limitation on a state’s authority to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, Maher v. Roe, 432 U.S. 464, 474, and the preamble can be read simply to express that sort of value judgment.’”
The problem with language such as “statement of position” and Rehnquist’s description of a finding for the humanity of the child prior to birth as a mere “value judgment” gets to the heart of the matter. The reality of the existence of a human being from his beginning is not a “statement of position,” nor is it a “value judgment.” It is a scientifically proven fact!
Other pro-life leaders argue that the predicament could be that a proposed personhood amendment would not survive a court challenge and that, if that were to occur, the court would again reaffirm the so-called right to abortion decided in the original 1973 Supreme Court decisions. Whether or not this is a valid concern is truly irrelevant.
I have no doubt that my fellow pro-life leaders are well-intentioned and that their perspectives should be evaluated and considered. There are kernels of truth on every side of this discussion and right now is the opportune time to sort them all out, talk them out, and devise a better way of pursuing recognition of human rights for every individual person from his or her biological beginning until death.
But the starting point for such a dialogue has to be a cohesive understanding that the purpose of pursuing personhood is fundamentally to change the way Americans view preborn babies and other human beings who belong to vulnerable, at-risk populations. The basic goal is not to focus on banning abortion or outlawing contraception or ending in vitro fertilization or overturning Roe v. Wade.
Those who advocate for human personhood don’t need a Supreme Court decision to provide permission to bring moral sanity back to the nation. Rather, we work to focus on those in the human family whose human rights are being ignored, avoided, or negated by a secular perspective that places so-called inconvenient persons into non-person categories.
We strive toward recognition of human rights for every individual because an entire segment of society is left swinging in the wind right now for a variety of politically-motivated reasons that have nothing to do with logic or reality.
As I have reviewed the countless words written about what happened in Mississippi and what is wrong with America’s perspective on human dignity, the one stunning point that has remained in my mind is that made by Ambassador Alan Keyes, who wrote:
There are people who think that the main goal of the pro-life movement is well served because here and there we staunch the flow of sacrificial blood. They have thus rejected its true and inevitable goal, which is to call the nation to repentance, beginning with our acknowledgement of the mystical nature of our “givenness”—the essence of that life which, coming from the hand of God, will always cry out to be understood by the heart of our humanity—the place wherein the awesome Power that manifests creation gently touches the little moment of our helpless being, humbling Himself so that we may be exalted.
In sum, when you peel away all the various political agendas embraced by so many the core that remains is truth. Defense of the innocent is not driven by politics or polling data or even judicial tyranny. It is driven by our desire to teach truth in such a way that America finally recognizes who is dying, sobs over the needless slaughter, and prays for forgiveness due to our complicity.
Only then will a genuine victory be attainable.