personhood

Ex-Judge Points Out Legal Flaws Of Fetal 'Personhood'

As we explored in a report on the fetal “personhood” movement a few years ago, the effort to outlaw all abortion (and possibly some forms of birth control) by giving full constitutional rights to zygotes could result in any number of unintended consequences.

In a column yesterday in the Montgomery Advertiser, Vanzetta Penn McPherson, a retired federal magistrate judge, poked holes in a recent Alabama personhood proposal that died in the state House last week.

If embryos and fetuses are declared to be legal persons, she asks, would they be entitled to congressional representation? To welfare benefits? To get their drivers’ license nine months early?

1. Since the date of each conception is uncertain and the government is the custodian of birth records: (a) Should the government assign a date of conception to determine the prenatal child’s true birthdate? (b) At delivery, will the average prenatal child already be nine months old? (c) Should parents count prenatal children on census and employment forms? (d) Should the legislature count prenatal children in the redistricting process?

2. For families: (a) Since DNA tests can prove paternity, should a father’s child support obligation begin at conception, when life begins? (b) Would a pregnant woman who is dependent on welfare be entitled to government benefits for her embryo? (c) Would a pregnant mother who is dependent on welfare be entitled to additional government benefits for her embryo?

3. Rights and Responsibilities: (a) Would a fetus, who is also a person, be entitled to an equal share of a parent’s or grandparent’s bequest to “children” or “grandchildren”? (b)Would the presence of a fetus, who is entitled to equal protection of the law, prevent the imposition of a lawful prison sentence upon a pregnant woman? (c) Would the presence of a fetus, who is entitled to equal protection of the law, cause the release of a female inmate who became pregnant? (d) To secure entitlement to rights that are triggered by age, should we award driver’s licenses (at 16), permit persons to vote (at 18), and permit persons to drink alcohol (at 21), based on “birth at conception?” (e) If so, will the presumption of “birth at conception” apply only to prenatal children “living” at the time the amendment passes? (f) Or will the presumption of “birth at conception” also apply to everyone, since everyone was once an embryo, thus allowing adults to advance their entitlement to retirement, and other state benefits? (g) When a prenatal child dies of natural causes before delivery, may its parents collect the proceeds of a life insurance policy they secured shortly after conception?

Even aside from the clearly unconstitutional attack on Roe v. Wade, these are issues that the courts would have to work out if “personhood” were to become law.

At least two states besides Alabama are currently considering “personhood” measures.

Cruz Dodges Personhood Question: 'I'm Not Going To Get Into The Labels'

Back in February, we wondered what exactly Ted Cruz’s position on the anti-abortion strategy of fetal “personhood" was. At a campaign stop in Iowa, Cruz said that he hasn’t “supported personhood legislation,” but over the past several years the Texas senator had made several statements supportive of personhood laws and amendments, which would outlaw all abortion and could even jeopardize some forms of birth control.

True to form, when Cruz was asked directly about his stance on “personhood” today, he dodged the question, saying that he didn’t want to talk about “labels.”

Eliza Collins at Politico reports that according to a partial transcript of an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that will be broadcast tonight, Cruz was not eager to clarify his views about the issue:

Pointing to the Texas senator's past history of wavering before eventually signing a pledge promising to support a personhood amendment to the Constitution in 2015, Todd asked, “Where are you on personhood? Are you going to pursue this as an agenda or are you just simply supporting the idea? Do you know what I mean by the difference?”

“Well listen, some of the labels in this debate can get confusing because different people mean different things about labels. I don’t want to get in a back and forth on labels,” Cruz responded. “I believe every human life is a gift from God and we should cherish and protect and celebrate them.”


Cruz … declined to answer when pressed if he thinks IUDs, which some conservatives oppose, are an acceptable form of contraceptive.

Todd then returned to personhood, asking: "Are you going to pursue it as an addendum?”

“I told you I’m not going to get into the labels, but what I will say is we should protect life. But I’m not interested in anything that restricts birth control. And I’m not interested in anything that restricts in vitro fertilization because I think parents who are struggling to create life, to have a child, that is a wonderful thing,” Cruz said, dodging further questions from Todd.

“Well, no one is questioning whether you’re pro-life. This is a different. That’s why I’m asking. Would you pursue this?” Todd asked again.

“I will happily support anything that protects life. And protecting life is a value that matters. Whether it is stopping partial birth abortion, which I think is a barbarism. Or whether it is fairly enforcing the criminal laws against Planned Parenthood. You know, a few months ago, we had this series of videos that were horrifying,” Cruz said.

Cruz is correct to say that the “personhood” label can “mean different things”… but he has in the past endorsed nearly every one of those different meanings.

One “personhood” strategy is to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that personhood begins at conception, which would not only overturn Roe v. Wade but would actively outlaw abortion nationwide; Cruz endorsed that strategy when he signed a pledge for a Georgia anti-abortion group last year.

Another strategy is to pass statewide “personhood” amendments, which would create challenges to Roe v. Wade in the courts; Cruz endorsed that strategy in a video address he recorded in South Carolina in February.

“Personhood” can also mean the dubious effort to bypass Roe v. Wade by simply passing federal legislation declaring that embryos and fetuses are “persons” under the Constitution; Cruz said last year that such a strategy would “absolutely” work.

So, Cruz has pledged to support a federal amendment, praised state-level amendments, and endorsed a federal legislative strategy all aimed at establishing legal “personhood” for zygotes and fetuses, but also says that he has never “supported personhood legislation.”

It’s no wonder he doesn’t want to talk about labels.

Anti-Choice 'Personhood' Bills Advance In Alabama, Missouri & South Carolina

This week, legislative committees in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina approved so-called “personhood” measures that would, if successful, outlaw all abortions and even endanger some forms of birth control.

An Alabama House committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment today that would “define the term ‘persons’ to include all humans from the moment of fertilization.” If the state legislature approves the amendment, it will move to a statewide ballot referendum.

One doctor who testified in favor of the Alabama insisted that a fetus is “totally separate” from a woman and that “the mother only contributes the egg and the incubator.”

In Missouri, a House committee approved a similar measure yesterday which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining “persons” to include “unborn human children at every stage of biological development.” The Missouri amendment, however, seems designed to avoid going head-to-head with Roe v. Wade, stating that it can only be enforced “to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.” The anti-choice group Live Action said that the amendment would ensure that Missouri “has clear legal protection from conception onward in place, should Roe v. Wade be eventually overturned.”

“Personhood” amendments, even when they do make it through state legislatures, have a horrendous record at the ballot box. Recent attempts to pass such amendments in the deeply conservative states of Mississippi and North Dakota failed spectacularly, and Colorado voters have rejected “personhood” multiple times.

That won’t be an issue in South Carolina, where a Senate committee approved a “personhood” bill sponsored by Sen. Lee Bright — a state co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign — yesterday. Bright dismissed questions about the possibly troubling consequences of the bill by saying, "When you get around the edges, there may be some questions we don't have all the answers to but allowing all these children to lose their lives to me is unacceptable.” Bright said that he hoped the bill would spark a challenge to Roe v. Wade, which he called one of his “missions in life.”

This post has been updated to include information about the South Carolina bill.

What Is Ted Cruz's Position On Personhood?

The anti-choice movement has, in recent years, been feuding over “personhood” laws, which ban all abortions by declaring zygotes and fetuses to be legal “persons” protected by the Constitution. Efforts to pass state-level “personhood” amendments have failed miserably, in part because opponents have pointed out that they could also threaten legal birth control and in-vitro fertilization, and a federal personhood bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul hasn’t gotten off the ground in Congress.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, who has claimed the mantle of the Religious Right in his run for the presidency, seems to be attempting to sidestep the “personhood” debate by taking both sides at once.

Back in 2012, when Cruz was running for a U.S. senate seat in Texas, the anti-choice group National Pro-Life Alliance reported that Cruz had told its members that he would cosponsor Paul’s “personhood” bill, the Life at Conception Act.

Cruz never did cosponsor that legislation, but last year, as he was starting his campaign for the presidency, he signed a pledge written by the pro-personhood group Georgia Right to Life to “support a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” thus earning the group’s endorsement.

Then, later last year, Cruz was asked by social conservative leader Robert George about the basic theory behind Paul’s “personhood” bill — that if fetuses are declared to be “persons” under the law, Roe v. Wade will fall and abortion will be banned without the need for a constitutional amendment — Cruz said that he “absolutely” agreed.

Then, just this month, as he scrambled to woo social conservative voters ahead of the South Carolina Republican primary, Cruz recorded a video message extolling a resolution that state Republicans had passed in support of a state “personhood” amendment.

Throughout this time, Cruz has insisted that his extreme anti-choice position won’t have any effect on the legality and availability of contraception.

Now, a video is making the rounds among abortion-rights advocates that shows Cruz at a campaign stop in Iowa in January explicitly saying that he has “not supported personhood legislation” because “it focuses on issues that are unrelated to protecting unborn children” — an apparent reference to contraception and IVF.

“I believe we should protect every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death,” Cruz says. “I have not supported personhood legislation because I think — and the pro-life community is divided on this — but I think personhood legislation can be counterproductive because it focuses on issues that are unrelated to protecting unborn children, and I think our focus should be valuing and cherishing every human life.”

When asked about his views on birth control, the senator adds: “I believe that birth control should be legal and unencumbered. And there are a lot of folks in politics that try to paint a false picture, they try to scare people to suggest that there are politicians trying to go after their birth control. It’s not true.”

Today, the pro-personhood group American Right to Life announced in a press release that it “disavows” Cruz because of his comments backtracking on its signature issue:

A mere 6 months after signing the Georgia Right To Life personhood pledge, Ted Cruz reversed himself last month stating, "I have not supported personhood legislation..." His flip-flop on this position that would make all abortions illegal from the moment of fertilization with no exceptions has resulted in Cruz being eliminated from consideration of being endorsed by American Right to Life.

"It's tragic that Ted Cruz has taken contradictory positions on abortion," said ARTL president Leslie Hanks, "and it's sobering to realize that his effort to get votes from the Republican base could explain his behavior. What America needs is a statesman who will never hesitate to use the bully pulpit to proclaim the God-given, inalienable right to life, at every stage of biological development. No exceptions."

Keep in mind that the video that offended American Right to Life was recorded well before Cruz praised a potential “personhood” amendment in South Carolina. Which leaves us to wonder: What exactly is his position on this?

Personhood USA Wants To Shut Down Planned Parenthood Clinic Targeted By Violent Attack

We noted earlier this month that Personhood USA, the Colorado-based group that has unsuccessfully tried to pass a number of state-level anti-abortion “personhood” measures, is now going to try its hand at passing city-level measures banning all abortion … starting with Colorado Springs, the site of a deadly shooting by an anti-choice radical last year.

In a recent interview with the Colorado Independent, Personhood USA’s Jennifer Mason explains that she doesn’t see it as a problem that her group is focusing on Colorado Springs just as the Planned Parenthood that was the target of the shooting reopens. It “makes sense” politically to aim the effort at the conservative city, she said, adding that Planned Parenthood was only “compounding” the tragedy of the shooting by reopening. “People are tired of the violence,” she said.

"It makes sense to start [in the Springs], considering the number of churches and number of volunteers we've got there," Mason tells the Independent. "When we've run statewide initiatives in the past, it's always our biggest base of support."

Mason acknowledges that wounds from the November shooting are still fresh. But she insists the latest initiative isn't about pouring salt on the wound.

"It's a better time than ever considering the shooting was so tragic and now [Planned Parenthood is] compounding that by continuing to kill people there," she says. "I think that really most people are tired of the violence — both from alleged crazy people and violence that's perpetrated by the abortion providers who brutally murder babies."

Mason similarly equated the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood with the man who killed three people there in a statement released during the armed standoff at the clinic:

Personhood USA absolutely opposes all abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people. That said, the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day that they are in business. Please join me in praying that the people inside, along with the babies in their mothers' wombs, are released safely.

Ted Cruz 'Enthusiastically' Backs Radical Anti-Abortion, Anti-Contraception Personhood Proposal

In a video message released ahead of the South Carolina presidential primary yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz repeated his support for radical fetal “personhood” measures that would criminalize all abortions and even threaten some forms of birth control by granting full constitutional rights to zygotes.

Cruz has previously pledged to back personhood measures, even going so far as to claim that legal personhood for fetuses could “absolutely” be established without a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

In his video message, Cruz praised South Carolina Republicans for passing a nonbinding resolution in support of a state constitutional amendment to institute fetal personhood.

“I enthusiastically support that resolution,” he said, “and, as president of the United States, I pledge to you that I will do everything within my power to end the scourge of abortion once and for all, that I will use the full constitutional power and the bully pulpit of the presidency to promote a culture of life, that I will sign any legislation put on my desk to defend the least of these, including legislation that defends the right of all persons, without exception other than the life of the mother from conception to natural death.”

Cruz also vowed to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices who would be “the critical deciding votes to finally overturn Roe v. Wade.”

In the video, the Texas Republican senator also tried to link the issue of abortion rights to other matters that are important to GOP voters, claiming that any candidate who supports abortion rights doesn’t believe in God and thus will also raise taxes.

“If a politician will rob a fellow person of their right to life, rest assured they’ll rob you of your private property rights, religious liberty, and look for new taxes and regulations to rob you of your hard-earned money as well,” he said.

“Liberty isn’t safe in the hands of a politician who doesn’t hold all life sacred,” he warned. “For anyone that doesn’t hold life sacred can’t possibly know what true liberty is or where true liberty comes from. Because the spirit of true American liberty comes from the Creator, in whose image we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Anti-Choice Group Starts 'All-Out Effort To End Abortion In Colorado Springs' As Targeted Clinic Reopens

A Colorado-based anti-choice group announced in an email to supporters yesterday that it is launching an “all-out effort” to ban abortion in Colorado Springs, where a Planned Parenthood that was the target of a deadly shooting in November is just reopening.

Personhood USA, which is based in Denver, has failed dismally in its efforts to pass state-level fetal “personhood” laws that would criminalize all abortions and could threaten common forms of birth control. Today, in an email to supporters, the group’s communications director Jennifer Mason hints that it is now changing its strategy to focus on passing city-level personhood measures … starting in Colorado Springs:

It's happening. We knew it would. After the tragic shooting at Planned Parenthood in late November, they had closed their doors through the holiday season. Now Planned Parenthood is re-opening their doors, all set to kill innocent babies once more.

The shooting in November killed three people, among those pro-life hero Officer Garrett Swasey. Thinking of the shooting brings tears to my eyes. Thinking of the fact that Planned Parenthood will re-open its doors and kill innocent babies compounds that grief and adds a large dose of nausea. I can't bear the thought that a place that has killed countless of innocent children will re-open to kill countless more.

We unequivocally oppose all violence, including abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people alike. That is why we must legally close Planned Parenthood's doors...by making abortion illegal city by city across the U.S.

It's no surprise that while we are launching our city-by-city campaign to make abortion illegal, starting in Colorado Springs, Planned Parenthood is re-opening a clinic there. Please pray about supporting this effort - with your help, we can get the legal paperwork filed and begin this all-out effort to end abortion in Colorado Springs today.

Interestingly, it was a former Personhood USA staffer who defected to the newly formed Personhood Alliance who declared back in 2014 that “the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now” and recommended that the movement should focus instead on passing municipal ballot measures.

UPDATE: RH Reality Check has more details:

The initiative has been in the works for more than a year, and was not crafted in response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement this week that it will soon reopen its Colorado Springs clinic , where three people were killed on November 27, Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told RH Reality Check in a phone interview.

“We had actually planned to do it before the tragic shooting there,” said Mason, explaining that her organization has a base of volunteers and supportive churches in Colorado Springs. “When Planned Parenthood announced that they were reopening, that confirmed for us that this was the right place to start …. The people who reached out to us in Colorado Springs don’t want any violence, including abortion, there.”

Mason said she’s working with attorneys to finalize the language of the measure, which will be similar to one of the statewide amendments soundly rejected by voters in 2014. She said her group is just beginning the legal process of putting a measure on the ballot, and she hopes to file the paperwork within the next two months.

Rand Paul Reintroduces Radical 'Personhood' Bill, Attempts To Sidestep Birth Control Controversy

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced his “Life at Conception Act,” an attempt to ban all abortion by granting legal “personhood” to zygotes and fetuses from “the moment of fertilization,” all without needing a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Paul has been a staunch backer of such personhood efforts despite once claiming that he didn’t support “changing any of the laws” on abortion “until the country is persuaded otherwise.”

The bill Paul introduced last week varies slightly from the one he first introduced in 2013, specifically stating that it shouldn’t be construed as “a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.” 

Personhood measures have been widely criticized for vague wording that could put legal birth control at risk, a concern that Paul appears to attempt to put at rest in the new bill. But that would all depend on what counts as protected birth control under the bill. Would IUDs, which could possibly prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, be protected? What about the morning-after pill or hormonal contraception bills, which some anti-choice groups claim, with little evidence, could do the same thing? Some anti-choice activists claim that some or all of these constitute abortion, not birth control … notably the plaintiffs in the Hobby Lobby case, whose cause Paul enthusiastically supported.

It’s especially interesting that Paul attempts to avoid the growing controversy within the anti-abortion movement about in-vitro fertilization and the rights that should be granted to the excess frozen embryos that are often a byproduct of the process. It’s unclear if Paul is saying that embryos that are the result of in-vitro fertilization should not be granted the personhood rights that his bill would grant to all other embryos or if the bill would simply require that those embryos never be destroyed.

Both Paul’s 2013 bill and his 2016 version state that they shouldn’t “be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child,” an important exemption because under such a law, ending a pregnancy at any stage would be the legal equivalent of murder. Already, an experiment in personhood-style laws in Alabama has led to the arrests of hundreds of women for using drugs while pregnant or otherwise contributing to the “chemical endangerment” of a fetus.

All of this, of course, is purely hypothetical at this point. Paul's bill is the product of a theory, which is controversial even within the anti-abortion movement, that there is a magic loophole in Roe v. Wade that would allow legal abortion to come tumbling down if Congress were simply to define fertilized eggs as “persons” under the law. Most likely, however, such a strategy would collapse in the courts: One prominent anti-choice attorney has called the personhood loophole an “urban legend.”

That’s not to say that Paul’s strategy doesn’t have support. His fellow Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been talking up the personhood strategy on the campaign trail, saying that he would simply issue a decree as president that there would be “no more abortion” in America. Ted Cruz has quietly pledged to support personhood measures and said late last year that a personhood strategy to avoid Roe would “absolutely” work. Marco Rubio has hinted at a personhood strategy, but not explicitly embraced it.

Paul’s bill has six Senate cosponsors and a similar bill (without the exceptions for birth control and IVF) has 132 cosponsors in the House.

Ben Carson Says He'll Confront Supreme Court On Abortion Like Abraham Lincoln On Dred Scott

In a series of interviews that they are hosting with presidential candidates for the Catholic television network EWTN, social conservative leader Robert George and his Princeton colleague Matthew Franck have asked every single candidate who has participated whether they would attempt to work around Roe v. Wade through federal legislation granting “personhood” rights to zygotes and fetuses.

Mike Huckabee has made issuing an executive fiat establishing fetal “personhood” and banning abortion a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Ted Cruz told EWTN that he would back such a plan and Rick Santorum made a vaguer promise to “push back on a court that got it wrong.”

Up this week was Ben Carson, who, when asked by Franck if he would be willing to sign anti-abortion legislation declaring that life begins at conception and “set up a conflict with the Supreme Court,” responded, “Yeah, I would definitely be willing to engage in that kind of confrontation, very much the same way that Abraham Lincoln was willing to engage in confrontation with the Dred Scott case.”

He added that in such cases “there is not only the right to intervene, there is the duty to intervene.”

Santorum Says He'd Enforce Unconstitutional DOMA As President

In an interview with the Catholic news network EWTN broadcast on Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that, if elected, he would ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor and enforce the parts of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that the court found unconstitutional. Santorum also said that he would attempt to undermine the court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade by considering fetuses to be “persons” under the law.

Santorum made the remarks as part of a series of conversations EWTN is running between influential social conservative thinker and activist Robert George and presidential candidates. George previously pressed TedCruz and Mike Huckabee to commit to positions undermining the Supreme Court on marriage equality and abortion rights.

Matthew Franck, a colleague of George’s at the Witherspoon Institute who was filling in for him, asked Santorum how, as president, he would treat the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality ruling. Santorum responded that while there is little a president can do to defy Obergefell, which affected state laws, he “would confront the court” on its DOMA decision and say “this was a decision that was extraconstitutional, that law is good, valid law and I would enforce that law.”

Before the Supreme Court struck down parts of DOMA, President Obama continued to enforce the law but refused to defend it in court, saying that it was unconstitutional. At the time, Santorum called Obama’s move a “power grab” and said that deciding the law’s constitutionality was the “province of the Supreme Court.”

Franck also asked Santorum about the anti-choice “personhood” strategy, which proposes that Congress make an end-run around Roe v. Wade by declaring fetuses and zygotes to be “persons” with full protections under the 14th Amendment.

Santorum, who has previously pledged to back “personhood” legislation, didn’t discuss the logistics of such a move, but said that the president has an “obligation to push back on a court that got it wrong.”

Personhood USA: Charge Women Who Have Abortions With Murder

Personhood USA, the group that has been attempting to pass state-level fetal “personhood” measures across the country, is applauding the attempted murder prosecution of a Tennessee woman who tried to give herself an abortion with a coat hanger, lamenting that women who obtain safe and legal abortions don't face the same penalty.

The Tennessee woman, Anna Yocca, was charged with attempted first-degree murder when she attempted to abort at 24-week pregnancy with a coat hanger in her bathtub. She panicked, went to the hospital, and delivered a 1.5 pound baby. A police spokesman told the media that “the whole time [Yocca] was concerned for her health, her safety, and never gave any attention to the health and safety to the unborn child.”

Sadly, Yocca’s case is not unique. A woman in Indiana was similarly charged with allegedly attempting to self-induce an abortion earlier this year. In fact, stealth “personhood” measures — meant to lay the groundwork for criminalizing abortion by granting certain rights to fetuses — have been passed around the country. In Alabama, the state supreme court has used “chemical endangerment” laws to lay the legal groundwork for fetal personhood, leading to the prosecutions of nearly 500 women accused of endangering their fetuses.

In an email to Personhood USA supporters today, the group’s communications director Jennifer Mason applauded Yocca’s prosecution but lamented that Tennesee law protects women who "hire an abortionist to kill their babies."

“As a mom, it’s hard to imagine the mental state of a woman who would so viciously harm both herself and her child, whether it be at her own hands or at a government-funded facility like Planned Parenthood,” Mason wrote. “This is why we need Personhood!”

Have you heard about this? Murfreesboro, TN resident Anna Yocca has been indicted and arrested on first degree attempted murder charges following a months-long grand jury investigation, despite campaigns for impunity for pregnant women from anti-baby organizations such as National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

The Washington Post reports that Yocca attempted an abortion with a wire coat hanger when her unborn baby was 24 weeks old. Fearful for her own safety, she went to the hospital where her 1.5 pound baby boy was delivered. The newborn baby boy survived, but physicians say that the baby’s quality of life is forever damaged and he will need oxygen and medication throughout his life due to damage to his eyes, heart, and lungs from his mother’s coat hanger weapon. The Murfreesboro Post also reports that physicians state that other health issues will arise as he grows.

The laws in Tennessee are so blatantly biased in favor of abortion clinics, it's almost difficult to believe. Had Anna Yocca stabbed her baby multiple times just a few months later, an attempted murder indictment would have been expected. The small public outcry about this case from pro-abortion organizations is just a disturbing effort to dehumanize this little boy who survived an attempt on his life.

While Tennessee law does allow for attempted murder charges in cases such as Yocca’s, the law provides specific provisions for women to hire an abortionist to kill their babies at Planned Parenthood in Nashville and around the state.

As a mom, it’s hard to imagine the mental state of a woman who would so viciously harm both herself and her child, whether it be at her own hands or at a government-funded facility like Planned Parenthood. This is why we need Personhood! Of course this little baby's life is precious and should be protected and legally defended, as should every other baby!

Ted Cruz: We Can 'Absolutely' Outlaw Abortion Without Overturning Roe

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said last month that Congress could “absolutely” criminalize all abortion by passing a law giving 14th Amendment protections to fetuses and zygotes, thus bypassing a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade.

This represents the Republican presidential candidate’s strongest endorsement yet of the radical anti-choice “personhood” strategy, which, based on a questionable interpretation of Roe, holds that Congress can simply outlaw abortion by classifying fertilized eggs as persons under the law. If successful, personhood would outlaw nearly all abortions and could even criminalize certain types of birth control.

Cruz made the comments in a November 25 interview with influential social conservative commentator Robert George as part of a series of candidate interviews that George is hosting on the the Catholic television network EWTN.

After outlining the personhood strategy, George asked Cruz, “Do you believe that unborn babies are persons within the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and, if so, will you call on Congress to use its authority under the 14th Amendment pursuant to Section Five, to protect the unborn? Or do you take the view, as some do, that we can’t do that until Roe v. Wade is overturned either by the court itself or by constitutional amendment? Where do you stand on that?”

“Listen, absolutely yes,” Cruz responded.

“I very much agree with the pope’s longstanding and prior popes’ before him longstanding call to protect every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” he added.

“And we can do that by Congressional action without waiting for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade?” George asked.

“Absolutely yes, under the 14th Amendment,” Cruz responded.

Cruz has on two separate occassions promised personhood groups that he would support their strategy, but has previously been eclipsed on the issue by his presidential rival Mike Huckabee, who has vowed to impose personhood by executive fiat if he becomes president. Another GOP presidential candidate, Rand Paul, has sponsored a personhood bill in Congress.

Personhood USA Founder Equates 'Crazy, Violent' Abortion Providers With Planned Parenthood Attacker

Yesterday, Personhood USA cofounder Cal Zastrow condemned the murder of three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, but equated the gunman’s actions with those of abortion providers, saying that providers are also “crazy, violent people” who have gone “nutso” and started killing people.

Discussing the Colorado Springs attack with former Missouri state legislator Cynthia Davis on her “ Home Front” radio program Zastrow said:

Recently in Colorado Springs, a violent gunman went into the Planned Parenthood and he had a weapon, he had a gun, and he shot a bunch of people, wounded them, and then he killed three people, their beating hearts and measurable brainwaves were stopped.

On the same day in other Planned Parenthoods across the nation and world, thousands of crazy, violent people, they went off, they went nutso and they used suction machines, they used forceps, and they used poisonous drugs and they murdered thousands of little baby boys and girls and their measurable brainwaves and their beating hearts were stopped.

I condemn all those murders. I just say stop the murdering, stop the violence. Don’t shoot anybody, don’t stab them, don’t smack them, don’t slap them, and don’t suck their arms and legs off with abortion machines. I profess to be a follower of Christ, I profess to be a Christian, so I’m just saying, let’s stop all the violence.

In an email to supporters on the evening of the Colorado Springs attack, Personhood USA’s Jennifer Mason made a similar point, faulting the media for “failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day.”

In the interview with Davis, Zastrow recalled protesting in front of the Colorado Springs clinic when he was working with the Colorado-based Personhood USA to pass a fetal “personhood” amendment in the state, noting that Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson joined him in his efforts.

Zastrow blasted major anti-choice groups that reject the personhood strategy and have been pursuing an incremental strategy to restrict abortion rights, urging listeners to donate “not one more nickel, not one more penny to a pro-life group that’s not 100 percent on board with personhood.”

Instead, he said, the “pro-life” movement must realize that “Roe v. Wade is not law” and work to pass state personhood laws so that state governments will begin to “ignore Roe v. Wade” and “prosecute people for murder under the law” for conducting abortions.

Zastrow also criticized members of Congress for failing to impeach judges who rule in favor of abortion rights, saying that lawmakers are “not behaving as Christians” and are risking their own salvation.

“Not one congressman has done their duty, not one is doing their duty and introducing articles of impeachment against baby-murdering federal judges, not one,” he said.

“If there’s any congressmen listening to my voice right now,” he added, “I humbly invite you to repent of your sins and surrender your life to Jesus Christ and become a Christian and do your job as a congressman and introduce articles of impeachment now, today, against federal judges that are ruling in favor of child sacrifice.”

Cruz Laughs Off The 'Condom Police,' Ignores His Own Anti-Contraception Policies

At a campaign event in Iowa yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz responded to a question about contraception access by dismissing the threat of “condom police,” calling attacks on contraception “an utterly made-up, nonsense issue.”

“Now listen,” he told the audience. “I have been a conservative my entire life. I have never met anybody, any conservative who wants to ban contraceptives.”

It may be true that that Cruz has never met anyone who wants to ban condoms. But he deliberately misses the point.  

Only a few fringe activists are talking about banning all forms of birth control outright. But the larger conservative movement, with Cruz’s vocal support, has been diligently working to make it more difficult for women, especially low-income women, to access reliable and affordable contraception.

This is a result of the anti-abortion movement’s quiet shift back toward anti-contraception policies, including their plans to close down Planned Parenthood, enact sweeping restrictions on health insurance for contraception and, increasingly, pass “personhood” measures that, if successful, could ban certain forms of contraception.

The most recent legislative assault (and, as of last week, violent assault) on Planned Parenthood was prompted by a smear campaign conducted by activists who have long sought the organization’s destruction. This is not just an attack on abortion rights — these activists, and the politicians who support them, want to prevent the organization from conducting all of its health care activities, including providing women with affordable contraception. Cruz has made defunding Planned Parenthood a centerpiece of his campaign, calling the women’s health organization an “ongoing criminal enterprise.”

Cruz, who has taken on with enthusiasm the Right’s campaign to redefine “religious liberty,” has been a vocal proponent of efforts to allow employers to block their employees from receiving insurance coverage for contraception, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act. He celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, which allowed private employers to refuse to provide health coverage for contraception. And he frequently brings up on the campaign trail the case currently before the Supreme Court in which a group of employers want to be able to deny their female employees access to contraception coverage through a separate entity. This would all be moot anyway if Cruz were to become president: He’s promised to “repeal every word of Obamacare.”

Along with working to make it more difficult for women to access reliable and affordable contraception, Cruz has flirted with the parts of the extremist personhood movement that could more accurately be described as the “condom police.”

Cruz has privately promised at least two anti-choice groups promoting fetal “personhood” laws that he would support their legislative efforts, which, if successful, could criminalize common forms of hormonal contraception. One group, Georgia Right to Life, said Cruz signed their pledge to give legal rights to embryos and another organization, National Pro-Life Alliance, announced that Cruz supports the radical Life at Conception Act. In addition, he has courted the support of activists who are vocally hostile to contraception, including, most recently, radical preacher Kevin Swanson.

It may be true that Cruz doesn’t know anybody who wants to outlaw condoms. But that’s not the threat that reproductive rights advocates are talking about, and he knows it.

Colorado Anti-Choice Groups: Why Isn't Media Covering 'Pro-Abortion Violence'?

After an anti-abortion terrorist killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday, reportedly declaring “no more baby parts,” anti-choice groups have been scrambling to condemn the crime and distance themselves from its perpetrator.

But some groups are being slightly less than unequivocal in their denunciation of the murders. In Colorado, which has been the testing ground for the anti-choice movement’s fetal “personhood” strategy, “personhood” groups lashed out at the media for paying too much attention to the murders at the clinic and not to what they see as the greater problems of legal abortion and what one group calls “pro-abortion violence.”

Jennifer Mason of the Colorado-based Personhood USA, which has been working to pass state-level personhood measures, wrote to her group’s supporters on Friday night that while Personhood USA “absolutely opposes all abortion-related violence,” the media is “failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day”:

Personhood USA absolutely opposes all abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people. That said, the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day that they are in business. Please join me in praying that the people inside, along with the babies in their mothers' wombs, are released safely.

Meanwhile, the Colorado-based American Right to Life and its affiliate Colorado Right to Life, which dramatically split with the National Right to Life Committee in 2007 because it disagreed with the national group’s incremental anti-choice strategy, complained that the media was not covering the even greater scourge of pro-choice terrorism:

Colorado RTL contrasts the eight people unjustly killed since 1993 by known anti-abortion vigilantes with the eighty women killed by pro-abortion violence for refusing to abort their own children. Those murdered moms are invisible to the media.

When a journalist advocates a "right" to dismember an unborn child (an act that would put an animal rights activist into a rage if done to a preborn cow), that kind of psychological dysfunction helps explain why the pro-killing media ignores those mothers who were brutally killed. And then there are the hundreds of women sexually assaulted by their own abortionists who are also ignored. But who cares: certainly no one in the media. The silence is for the greater good. No?

The group’s assertion that 80 women have been “killed by pro-abortion violence” comes from a list put together by anti-choice activist Mark Crutcher (a driving force behind the Center for Medical Progress’ “baby parts” videos), which lists women who have been killed in domestic violence episodes that included arguments about abortion.

President Mike Huckabee Will Outlaw Abortion By Executive Fiat

At a campaign stop in Iowa last week, Mike Huckabee elaborated on his pledge to outlaw all abortion by declaring legal “personhood” for fertilized eggs and fetuses, telling the audience at a town hall event that if he is elected president, he will simply start operating as if zygotes have full constitutional rights. If anyone were to have a problem with that, he said, they could challenge him in the courts. (Whether or not he would actually abide by a court ruling is still an open question.)

“As president, I would say, ‘We will protect every person,’” Huckabee said in Waukee, Iowa. “And I know that would just send shockwaves. There would be lawsuits immediately. Fine. Let there be. Let’s let this now work its way, but from the position, instead of being where we defend the killing of 60 million babies since 1973…let us now operate on the principle that it is not okay and let them fight for the right to take those baby’s lives, let them tell us when that person becomes a person, let us argue their point of the unrestricted right to deny life and liberty to that person.”

The former Arkansas governor added that he would feel compelled to make such a move — which would criminalize abortion in all cases and could threaten common forms of birth control — because otherwise he couldn’t continue to ask God to bless America.

“We’ve never had a president who was willing to go there,” he said. “Well, I’m not just willing. If I’m elected, I will go there. And the reason why is because I don’t believe I can honestly make a speech and end it by saying ‘God bless you and God bless America’ if we are committing such savagery as the infanticide that we have continued to slaughter so many unborn children.”

Huckabee went on to reiterate his hope to see Planned Parenthood “criminally prosecuted” and “go out of business” because “we simply are protecting the people that they used to take money to end their lives.”

The Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts posted the comments on its YouTube page:

Ted Cruz Renews Pledge To Support Radical Personhood Amendment

Georgia Right to Life, one of the most outspoken proponents of the movement to grant legal “personhood” to fertilized eggs and fetuses, has endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz for president after he signed their candidate pledge promising to “support a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

GRTL’s pledge, which the group says Cruz signed, asks candidates to affirm that “a continuum of human life and personhood begins at the moment of fertilization” and promise to protect “the civil rights of the pre-born at an embryonic or fetal level.” In practice, personhood would not only criminalize all abortions, it could also endanger some common forms of birth control and put women who have suffered miscarriages at risk of prosecution.

The Georgia group’s advocacy of sweeping personhood measures to ban abortion is so radical that it caused it to split from the National Right to Life Committee. 

When Cruz was running for Senate in 2012, he promised another personhood group that he would cosponsor the Life at Conception Act, a personhood bill that seeks to ban all abortions and even some types of birth control through legislation rather than a constitutional amendment. When Cruz’s presidential rival Rand Paul introduced the bill, however, Cruz never signed on as a cosponsor.

Here is a photo of Georgia Right to Life's Joshua Edmonds presenting Cruz with what appears to be GRTL's endorsement:

 

 

Marco Rubio's Fetal Personhood Argument In Disguise

In last week’s GOP presidential debate, Mike Huckabee made an explicit argument in favor of radical fetal personhood laws, claiming that Congress could pass a law granting rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses under the 14th and Fifth Amendments, thus criminalizing all abortion and possibly common forms of birth control in one fell swoop.

But one of Huckabee’s fellow candidates made a very similar comment, which has received less attention because he did not explicitly acknowledge the personhood movement. Here’s what Marco Rubio said when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked about his support for abortion bans that have contained exceptions for survivors of rape and incest, a deal-breaker for personhood proponents:

Kelly: You don’t favor a rape and incest exception?

Rubio: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.

And let me go further. I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not. And I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.

As Katie McDonough at Fusion pointed out, Rubio’s answer was a “roundabout” personhood argument.

By saying that the Constitution already entitles fertilized eggs and fetuses to “the protection of our laws” and that Congress merely needs to “pass a law” stating that “says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” Rubio seems to be arguing for a personhood bill such as that proposed by fellow GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul in the Senate. (Personhood proponents believe that there is a loophole in Roe v. Wade that allows a ban on all abortions and some common forms of birth control to be accomplished legislatively, rather than through a constitutional amendment.)

However, Rubio did not sign on as a cosponsor of Paul’s bill. And the Florida senator has supported abortion bans containing rape and incest exceptions, although he clarified after the debate he did so out of political necessity, not because he supports such exceptions.

Even anti-choice activists are unclear about what Rubio meant in his answer to Kelly. The Christian Post thinks that Rubio was taking the same position on Personhood as Huckabee. Personhood USA, the group behind state-level personhood ballot measures, was more skeptical, writing that while Rubio expressed a “noble sentiment,” he must “repent” for supporting laws containing rape and incest exceptions and “will have to clarify” his position.

What is clear is that Rubio’s answer was calculated to appeal to radical anti-choice activists without being immediately off-putting to viewers who are terrified of fetal personhood laws. Beyond that, he should be asked to clarify what his position on personhood really is.

Huckabee Goes All In On 'Equal Protection' And 'Due Process' For Zygotes

In a field of GOP presidential candidates who spent a good part of their first presidential debate trying to out-extreme each other on the issue of abortion restrictions, Mike Huckabee is trying to stand out by going all in on the idea of fetal personhood, which would criminalize abortion under all circumstances and could even ban common forms of birth control. 

As we noted last week, Huckabee seems to have gotten behind the idea that fertilized eggs and fetuses can be granted equal protection and due process rights under the 14th and Fifth Amendments through simple legislation, rather than a constitutional amendment, a legal theory that is disputed by even some major anti-choice groups.

Although Huckabee remains vague on how he would go about granting constitutional rights to zygotes, he seems to have decided that talking about fetal personhood — an idea so unpopular that it has been repeatedly rejected by voters, even in the deep-red states of Mississippi and North Dakota — is his ticket to the GOP nomination.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, Huckabee said that the personhood issue is what “separates” him from the other GOP candidates (despite the fact that Rand Paul sponsored a personhood bill in the Senate). He also explicitly rejects the anti-choice movement’s strategy of chipping away at abortion access, saying that although he does want to "eradicate Planned Parenthood," the GOP also needs “to ratchet up this discussion.”

I think it’s time for us to realize that this is not just about us creating a few little restrictions here and there, stopping funding for various organizations. That’s all good, and I’ve been a part of those efforts, signed every piece of legislation imaginable as a governor when I was in Arkansas, helped pass a human life amendment in Arkansas to our state constitution before I even got involved in politics. But I think now that we really need to focus on that this is about personhood, this is about, is that baby a human being? Because if it is, then, David, we have a constitutional responsibility under the Fifth Amendment for due process, we have a responsibility under the 14th Amendment for equal protection, to provide a protection and due process for that person.

So I think we need to ratchet up this discussion and make it not so much about whether we’re going to fund a particular Planned Parenthood organization — which certainly doesn’t need to be funded, they’re butchers, they should have not tax dollars whatsoever. But even if we eradicate Planned Parenthood, you still have 4,000 babies a day that are dying, so why don’t we take the issue where it really belongs, and that’s personhood.

And the one thing that I think separates me from the other candidates, all of whom are pro-life, or they say they are, is that I think it’s time to invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment and make this an issue of personhood and start protecting innocent life, that’s how we should be approaching this.

What Mike Huckabee Means By Giving 14th Amendment Rights To Fetuses

Last night’s Republican presidential debate on Fox News featured plenty of disturbing rhetoric about women, from the ridiculous (Donald Trump’s weird ad hominem attack on Rosie O’Donnell) to the infuriating (Marco Rubio speaking out against rape and incest exceptions) to the terrifying (Scott Walker clarifying that he does not support allowing abortions that would save the lives of pregnant women).

But Mike Huckabee took things to a new level when he calmly presented his plan to grant legal “personhood” to fertilized eggs and fetuses.

Some commentators have mistaken Huckabee’s comment as a call for a constitutional amendment to reverse Roe v. Wade. That’s not what he meant.

Instead, Huckabee was embracing a radical legal theory, disputed even in anti-choice circles, that holds that a constitutional amendment overturning Roe isn’t necessary to end legal abortion. This theory holds that the majority opinion in Roe contains a magic loophole that allows Congress to simply declare zygotes “persons” under the Fifth and 14th Amendments, which would then criminalize abortion nationwide in one fell swoop, no constitutional amendment needed. One of the most adamant proponents of this theory in Congress is Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Rand Paul.

Here was Huckabee’s answer to Chris Wallace’s question about his “strong positions on social issues,” including favoring “a constitutional amendment banning abortions, except for the life of the mother”:

Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That's a long and difficult process. I've actually taken the position that's bolder than that.

A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that's a huge game changer. I think it's time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother's womb is a person at the moment of conception.

The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child's Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.

It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they're parts to a Buick.

As we detailed in our recent report on the personhood movement, this plan is not popular with many of the major anti-choice groups, which have been pursuing a strategy of slowly chipping away at abortion access and the legal protections in Roe, and who argue that a federal personhood bill would backfire bigtime.

But if Huckabee’s dubious legal strategy were to work, the consequences would be enormous. Not only would granting “personhood” to fetuses ban abortion in all but the rarest case where a pregnant woman and a fetus are both in mortal danger, it would put women who suffer miscarriages at risk of prosecution and jail time. The ambiguous wording of such measures has led many to fear that they could also outlaw common forms of birth control.

And the consequences could extend far beyond reproductive rights, as we wrote in our recent report:

By redefining what it means to be a person under the law, personhood measures could also have a broad legal impact on issues unrelated to reproductive rights, threatening to upend everything from inheritance law to census results . In 2014, the Colorado Bar Association opposed the state’s personhood ballot measure, warning that the vaguely worded measure would have “potentially serious, unintended and unknown consequences for Colorado lawyers. … From areas of Family Law to Probate Law to Real Estate Law, as well as the explicit effect on Criminal Law and Wrongful Death statutes, this Amendment could create uncertainty and endless litigation.”

Mike Huckabee’s support for the personhood movement is nothing new. But in declaring his intention to give 14th Amendment rights to fertilized eggs in a nationally televised debate, he gave a fringe movement what may be its biggest stage yet.

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