What is Personhood?

 

Personhood is the cultural and legal recognition of the equal and unalienable rights of human beings.

 

“Nothing is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man.”

Thomas Jefferson

 

When the term “person” is applied to a particular class of human beings, it is an affirmation of their individual rights. In other words, to be a person is to be protected by a series of God-given rights and constitutional guarantees such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This terrifies the pro-abortion foes!

They know that if we clearly define the preborn baby as a person, they will have the same right to life as all Americans do!

This then also begs the question, is every human being a person?

There is a very real sense in which the need to answer this second question is, in itself, an absurdity.

If you look up the word “person” in your average dictionary (we’ll use Webster’s), you’ll find something like this: “Person n. A human being.”

 

“After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. It is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”
Dr. Jerome Lejeune, “Father of Modern Genetics”
 

A person, simply put, is a human being. This fact should be enough. The intrinsic humanity of unborn children, by definition, makes them persons, and should, therefore, guarantee their protection under the law.

Personhood holds the key to filling the “Blackmun Hole,” a startling admission in the Roe v. Wade majority opinion:

 

“If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.”

Justice Harry Blackmun, Roe v. Wade

 

In 1973, the science of fetology was not able to prove, as it can now, that a living, fully human, and unique individual exists at the moment of fertilization and continues to grow through various stages of development in a continuum until death.

However, pick up any embryology book today and you will find that your life and every person’s life began at fertilization (Click to read more).

 

“[The zygote], formed by the union of an oocyte and a sperm, is the beginning of a new human being.”
Keith L. Moore in The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.
 

If the Court considers the humanity of the preborn child, it could end this age-based discrimination and restore the legal protections of personhood to the preborn.

For nearly forty years, however, this has not been the case. The situation we are left with is that, in America, there is a group of living human beings who have no protection under the law and are being killed en masse every day. It is truly astounding, but not wholly unprecedented.

 

“In the eyes of the law…the slave is not a person.”

Virginia Supreme Court, 1858

 

Throughout history, certain people groups have felt the brunt of a system which denied their humanity, stripped their personhood, and subjected them to horrors beyond measure. While the legal framework that made such horrors possible has now been removed, it remains firmly in place for preborn Americans.

There remains one, and only one, group of human beings in the United States today for which being human is not enough. The inconvenience of their existence has resulted in this shameful injustice.

What is a person? A person is a human being at every age.

 

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
 

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