Since 1973, many different tactics and approaches have been put forward by the Pro-life movement here in the United States. I think it can be safely stated, that as far as these approaches and tactics have concerned making abortion illegal in this land, they have all been an unmitigated disaster. 37 years later, we are farther away from making abortion illegal in this country, and the more the years go by, the farther and farther away we go. Can we really say that the approaches we have taken are even slightly successful, when there is still debate about whether taxpayer money should be used to kill the innocent? The fact that it is still debateable should be a sign to all of us who deeply care about the unborn, that what we have been doing to accomplish our goal is not working.
So what needs to change you ask? I think the only approach that will finally and once and for all end the killing is a constitutional amendment granting “personhood” to all from conception to natural death. However, this idea of a personhood amendment is not new. In 1974 a New York Senator named James Buckley brought a human life amendment to the Senate, and a quick search on this topic shows that 12 other human life amendments have been presented to Congress from 1973-2003.
The most outspoken proponent for a “Personhood” Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is Jude Brown of the American Life League. Jude Brown has been at the forefront of the Pro-Life movement since before Roe v. Wade became the desecration and abomination of the land. Mrs. Brown has on many occasions clearly articulated the reasons why a personhood amendment is the only way to win the abortion war going on in this country. In this article, Mrs. Brown further states the reasons as why the amendment process is the only way to proceed at this point. Further, and more to the point, Mrs. Brown discusses the reasons why allowing exceptions to our cause, has doomed us to failure. We cannot allow “exceptions”, such as the “health and well-being of the mother” or “in cases of rape or incest”, to be used any more in pro-life speak. Those “exceptions” are not Pro-Life! We are being hypocrites when we say that abortion is wrong, but it is okay in these instances. We must now take a firm inventory of ourselves and the pro-life movement and decide what we really want. Do we want to limit abortion? Or do we want to end abortion?
As Catholics we are all called to end abortion. Limiting abortion may sound good in practice and at cocktail parties, but in reality, innocent life is still being murdered, and mothers womb’s are still being ripped apart. We must do all we can to end the horror.
So, can a personhood amendment achieve the end to abortion? I believe it is the only way we can win the war. But, we won’t win with the “exception” mentality. As mentioned above, Sen. Buckley’s amendment in 1974 was the first human life amendment proposed in the Senate. The “exceptions” were of course debated at that time. The cardinal from Boston,Humberto Cardinal Medeiros, made the following statement at the time:
“As for an amendment which would generally prohibit abortion but permit it in certain exceptional circumstances, such as when a woman’s life is considered to be threatened, the Catholic Conference does not endorse such an approach in principle and could not conscientiously support it.”
Interestingly enough, and despite the good Cardinal’s reiteration of Catholic teaching, guess what was in Sen. Buckley’s human life amendment? You got it, an exception to abortion in the case of the life of the mother! If you look at the other 12 proposed human life amendments, most, if not all, had language providing “exceptions” to abortion. Is it any surprise that none of these proposed amendments had any success?
The pro-life movement needs to unite around this personhood amendment strategy in order finally and forever, defeat the culture of death.
I am well aware that the majority of Americans support abortion; either outright, or within one or more of the “exceptions”, but that should not matter when trying to prevent an abhorrent evil. We cannot compromise with evil, lest we condone evil ourselves.
It is my belief that we are not winning, or even on the verge of winning this war, because too many good people in the pro-life movement have bought into this incrementalist approach that allows exceptions to abortion or worse, abortion itself, because the legislation may limit abortion in some unforeseen way.
These good people also believe that taking the “all or nothing” approach is too extreme and too hard a fight to see any results. However, what results have we seen with the current approach? In 37 years there have been over 40 million abortions in this country! It is plainly obvious we need to reorganize our attack and focus all of our efforts on promoting and passing a Personhood Amendment that would protect all life from beginning to natural end.
To that end, California is in the process of gather petitions to place a Personhood Amendment on the November 2010 ballot. Please go to this website for further information: http://www.californiahumanrightsamendment.com/