Anti-abortion rights activists target “personhood” amendments

September 19, 2009

When Americans go to the polls for the congressional elections in 2010, in some places they may also be asked to vote on state “personhood” amendments that would effectively define life as starting at fertilization or the “start of biological development.”

A proposal like this was rejected by voters in Colorado in November but anti-abortion rights activists hope to get similar ballot measures together in at least a dozen states for 2010.


This could have broader political implications as initiatives in the past on so-called hot button social issues such as gay marriage have brought conservative Christians — an influential voting block in the out-of-power Republican Party — to the polls.

One of the groups involved is the “American Life League” or ALL, a socially conservative Catholic organization that had a booth on Saturday on the sidelines of a summit of self-styled “values voters” in Washington.

Among other things, ALL would like to see an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which won’t happen any time soon) “to establish that legal personhood is granted to all human beings in the United States from the beginning of their biological development.”

Communications director Katie Walker said,  “It is a very simple concept that is fulfilling the civil rights movement.”

 In Florida, activists have launched a campaign to collect the 676,811 signatures they say are required to bring the proposed “personhood” amendment to a vote. Walker said there were plans to get similar initiatives rolling in several other states such as Montana and Colorado.

This is one to keep an eye on.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

People sometimes do not understand why those of us who oppose abortion see this as a civil rights cause.

Take our country’s past fight for the rights of blacks. At the time when this horrendous practice was taking place, many in society saw it as something unfortunate, but not morally wrong. Blacks were not allowed the rights in this country because they weren’t seen as having the same humanity based on something physical. Recognizing their personhood was the first step in pursuing their freedom.

Just because a person is physically different than us does not mean they have lesser rights. Those who are oppressed are most vulnerable and deserve protection from those of us who are able.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

This counting your chickens before they are hatched proposal will fail big time. It is well established in law, tradition and religious practice that fetuses are not persons. Even babies and children do not have the full rights of an adult. These adult rights are achieved in a series of steps and until they are parents are held accountable for children.

What is going to happen at the next census if this should become law? Are women going to have to submit to a pregnancy test to get a accurate count for the census? Maybe census takers will have to all be gynecologists. Or do backers of this nonsense propose that there should be two classes of persons? One that counts if an abortion is performed but doesn’t count at census time.

Most religions do not recognize fetuses as persons because they do not perform funerals for miscarriages and still births for example. They may say life begins at conception but they don’t walk the talk.

If a fetus is a person, then clearly pregnant women should be given a double vote for example. And who in their right mind is going to risk pregnancy when a miscarriage or some other injury to the fetus could result in murder or bodily injury charges?

The whole idea of fetus person hood gets the government into a very private and personal area. This extension of government and the law into a person’s private life and control of their own body is intolerable. Mommas and Daddies make babies or not and it is nobody else’s business what they do until after the birth of the baby when its existence and rights are obvious to everyone.

Posted by xaviar durant | Report as abusive