The personhood movement has its origins in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the very Supreme Court case which struck down state statutes on abortion. When the state of Texas was presenting its case, it argued that a fetus was a person within the language and meaning of the US Constitution’s 14th amendment, and therefore protected.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 1
In writing his majority opinion, Associate Justice Harry Blackmun claimed he could find no basis for such status. He noted, however:
If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case [Roe’s case], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be protected.
Though the Personhood movement began in 1973, the reality of the personhood of the preborn was established by God when He created man in His own image. Dan Becker explains,
Most of us are familiar with the classic hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy,” the refrain of which declares the eternal truth of “God in three Persons — blessed Trinity.” One God in three distinct Persons — set apart from each other and yet equal — this is a great and profound mystery. Personhood exists within the Godhead.
When God created humankind He imparted the similar attribute of Personhood. Genesis 1:26-27 allows us to listen in on a conversation taking place within the Godhead: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.'” 2
The goal of the personhood movement is to re-establish Constitutional protection for all human beings beginning at the moment of fertilization, by legal recognition of their personhood because they are created in the image of God. Until every baby in the womb has this status, they are vulnerable to being deprived of the most fundamental right of all — the right to life.
- United States Constitution, Amendment 14, Section 1
- Becker, Daniel C. Personhood: A Pragmatic Guide to Prolife Victory in the 21st Century and the Return to First Principles in Politics. Alpharetta, GA: TKS Publications, 2011, 49.
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