Do we need a human life amendment that recognizes the personhood of the prenatal child?
Jim Sedlak is vice president of American Life League (ALL), a national pro-life organization based in Stafford, Virginia. For a long time, ALL has been, and still is, one of my favorite pro-life organizations. Sedlak is working to build support for a pro-life constitutional amendment that recognizes the personhood of the preborn child. While Sedlak’s aims are noble, I have two reasons for disagreeing with the objective of promoting a pro-life amendment.
My first reason for objecting to a pro-life amendment is that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is legally unnecessary. A proper reading and application of Due Process contained in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments would protect the unborn from abortion.
Due process states, “No person shall…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;” Since due process refers to criminal proceedings, and the preborn child cannot be guilty of any crime, government remains prohibited from depriving him of life. The Fifth Amendment binds federal government and the Fourteenth Amendment binds the states.
While the Courts have interpreted due process beyond its original intention, due process, in a particular sense affords comprehensive legal protection. That is, it would be a strange set of affairs, indeed, if federal and state governments are constrained from depriving a person of life without due process while individuals, non-governmental groups, agencies, or businesses acting under their jurisdictions violate the right to life with impunity.
Protecting the preborn child’s natural right to equal protection under the law requires legal recognition of his personhood. This entails a non-discriminatory application of “person” contained in the Bill of Rights’ due process clause. Even the Roe Court realized protection of the preborn child under due process of the Fourteenth Amendment depends on legal recognition of the personhood of the unborn. Justice Blackmum stated,
"The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. 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." Roe v. Wade, IX, A
As we know, the Roe Court majority refused to recognize the unborn child as a person, despite the irrefutable evidence for his personhood. In addition, the Court forced itself into dissembling and invented something about “penumbras formed by emanations from” the Bill of Rights (whatever that means is anyone’s guess) the constitutional right of privacy. This newly “discovered” (fabricated) version of the right of privacy became the basis for the majority decision in Roe v. Wade.
Inarguably, the Supreme Court engaged in a fraudulent reading of the Bill of Rights, and refused positive consideration of the irrefutable scientific evidence for the personhood of the preborn child. The evidence for the personhood of the prenatal child is even greater today, and a proper reading and application of “person” as contained in the due process clause would be enough to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Founders believed that the fundamental responsibility of good government is protection of human life. When any government fails in its primary and fundamental responsibility, the people should change or abolish that government. The Declaration of Independence states,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Why doe not the Constitution specifically refer to abortion? There was a noted increase in understanding of the early stages of prenatal development from about the middle of the nineteenth century. Before that time, the common assumption was that personhood began at “quickening.” If Americans during the founding era had satisfactory scientific knowledge about prenatal development, the framers surely would have incorporated a reference to abortion in the Constitution. With our current understanding of prenatal development, there can be no justifiable reason for discriminating against preborn children by refusing them equal protection of the law.
My second reason for not being enthusiastic about a human life amendment is there is an unpredictable risk involved. That is, if the U.S. Constitution is open for amendment, there may be unforeseen and undesirable results. Opportunists in Congress may propose changes we do not need. This should be a serious concern given our current cultural and political climate. Who can assure us there will be no shady deals and ugly compromises worked out by congressional representatives in low lit, smoke-filled back rooms?
Faith, Hope, and Love are needed
Whatever political or legal actions one thinks are best to protect the lives of unborn children, the battle is primarily a spiritual one. The Apostle Paul reminds us: “For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the Sovereignties and the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, the spiritual army of evil in the heavens. This is why you must rely on God’s armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance when the worst happens, or have enough resources to hold your ground (Eph. 6:12-13).”
The abortion industry is a demonic enterprise. Those promoting a culture of death have involved themselves in satanic religious activity in which abortion is the high sacrament. And Christ informs us in the Gospels that some demons are only cast out by much prayer and fasting.