Thursday, October 21, 2010

40 Days, and personhood

Citizens of Colorado will have a chance to vote on a personhood amendment this election--and Tim Tebow's mom supports it:
"A child's right to life begins at conception, not at birth. From conception, all children are people, made in the image and likeness of God. Thus, I support the Personhood amendment and appeal to Colorado voters to vote 'yes' on amendment 62," stated Pam Tebow, mother of Tim Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner who scored his first touchdown in the NFL as a Denver Bronco Sunday.

Pam Tebow made headline news when she and Heisman-trophy-winning son Tim Tebow appeared in a pro-life television ad during the 2010 Superbowl. The advertisement directed viewers to learn more about Tebow's story online, where Pam described her refusal to let doctors take her son's life while she was pregnant. The ad was sponsored by Focus on the Family, which has also urged Colorado voters to vote "Yes" on Amendment 62.
Amendment 62 reads as follows:
Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3*, 6**, and 25*** of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person" shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
Naturally, opponents of the amendment are screaming hysterically that defining personhood as beginning at conception is really, really going to make it hard to kill all the unborn humans we kill now.

(Anybody else find it ironic that the NAACP is one of those groups opposed to this attempt at defining personhood?)

The sad truth is that historically the tendency to exclude some human beings from the definition of personhood has revealed the desire to subjugate, control, or kill those human beings. The same thing is true today: the desire to define unborn humans as "non-persons" reveals the violent hostility against and desire to kill these human beings. Only if you see these human beings as worthless trash can you consider them unworthy of the protections given to the rest of humanity.


The Cottage Child said...

"Anybody else find it ironic that the NAACP is one of those groups opposed to this attempt at defining personhood?" More than a little ironic, yes. And sad.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Oh, if such a vague amendment passes, I could make a good case that the "biological development of that human being" is a point well past conception. That's the problem with trying to slip such nonsense in without being explicit. Anyway, its pure theater, since no state has authority to infringe the liberties of Citizens of the United States. What a pathetic waste of time.

The Cottage Child said...

Siarlys - we can agree, no state has authority to infringe the liberties of Citizens of the United States...yet, as Red is pointing out here, discrimination - in the case of an unborn child, it's just a matter of age and location - is a plague that haunts our society on both sides of the womb.

We could debate, I suppose, that one isn't a "Citizen" in the legal sense until he or she is the age of majority. However, Constitutionally, we could also debate the existential elements of our "rights", and if life, without which none of the others can be realized, is obfuscated, then how do the rest have any standing whatsoever? We're back to arbitrary assignment of value, and that's inconsistent with the whole Constitutional argument we started with.

There are ways to prevent conception. That "choice" is the right of each person. Once another human being is involved, at the (scientifically established) point of conception, there is no choice, except what our level of tolerance is while one class of citizens is arbitrarily being discriminated against.

It is well within Colorado's citizen's rights to establish a clear understanding of personhood. I would argue that if they are attempting to include homicide charges against an unborn person in their courts, they'd better do it if they're going to make any of those convictions stick. That it needs to be done is what is pathetic.

Baron Korf said...

IIRC, a similar measure was on the ballot in 2008. Abp. Chaput was against it, or at least was unwilling to support it. He made some vague reference to the unforeseen complications such a measure would entail. I don't know if his feelings are the same on this one or not.

He is a good shepherd as far as I know so when I came across his objections, it made me wonder. I'm still not sure what his problem is.

c matt said...

Siarlys, you are missing an important point. The whole premise of RvW is that the fetus is not a legal person. The US Con says nothing about who is or is not a person, that is left to the states. And states can create persons out of thin air (just check your secretary of state's office - tens of thousands of juridical persons known as corporations). So there is no legal or logical impediment to this amendment having effect. Of course, that presumes that those idiots on the SCOTUS actual adhere to and follow legal principles, and not their ideologies. I hold no real hope for that. We will likely end up with a majority opinion as devoid of rational legal analysis and substance as Roe itself. It would be amusing to watch Kagal and her cabal twist themselves into legal pretzels to get around it if real human lives weren't at stake.

c matt said...

"biological development of that human being" is a point well past conception

You may be able to, but your case would be irrelevant. Biological development is not what the amendment says. You missed some rather important words there - "from the beginning of the". I am sure that was unintentional.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

cmatt, you are dreaming, and grasping at straws even in your dream. I acknowledge that you passionately WANT all abortion to be illegal. (You may or may not wish to make exceptions when the mother's life is in danger - there was a time when Roman Catholic priests in Ireland demanded that a doctor save the baby even if it meant killing the mother - but that is a tangent). Your passionate desire does not reshape constitutional law, no matter how badly you want it to be so.

Do you really want to "incorporate" the fetus, in order to make it a person? Do you really think any court would take such a process seriously? Does the fetus, in your estimation, lack personhood until papers are filed with the Secretary of State's office?

The Fourteenth Amendment defines rights of a person, which no state may interfere with. States are not delegated authority to decide what the word "person" means - that would invalidate the entire purpose of the amendment, which was to hold ALL states to a common standard of rights and liberties.

You wish to apply that standard to the zygote, blastocyst, embryo, and fetus, still in the womb. That is an arguable position, although I believe you are wrong.

Roe v. Wade turned precisely on the point that, IF, as the State of Texas asserted, a fetus IS a person, then the plaintiff's case would collapse, because the the fetus would indeed be fully entitled to protection of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court explicitly acknowledged that. The court carefully examined all available precedent. It found NO legal basis to find that a fetus is a person.

Nonetheless, the court found that in the third trimester, the fetus had sufficient development (the medical term AT THAT TIME was "quickening," that states could CHOOSE to afford it protection.

Erin has reported that a law is being proposed in Nebraska which would redraw the line at 20 weeks, rather than second/third trimester, or quickening. That could well be challenged in the courts, but unlike this vaguely worded Colorado proposal, it may well withstand constitutional review. The Supreme Court, without overturning Roe v. Wade, might well decide that in light of subsequent medical developments, the Nebraska law is a proper application of the legal standards issued in Roe.

Your argument is woven from whole cloth and wishful thinking. It will go nowhere.

The Cottage Child said...

"Your argument is woven from whole cloth and wishful thinking. It will go nowhere."

Only if willful ignorance of Constitutional principles(outside of the twentieth century Progressive political theory of precedence, which is not based in the Constitution, only whole cloth and wishful thinking) and biologically established fact prevail.

Choose not to acknowledge life in its fullness, Siarlys, but don't diminish the rest of humanity to your own cynical standard. You wouldn't want to infringe, much, would you?

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Cottage Child, with all due respect for the fact that you, like me, are made in God's own image, or half of it, you know nothing about Constitutional principles. I don't need any "Progressive political theory." I can read the original document (and duly ratified amendments) for myself, and I've studied the judicial decisions expounding it. Reciting rhetoric doesn't cut it. At least cite what exactly a court said, and what exactly is inconsistent with plain constitutional language, before you play word games.

The Cottage Child said...

Me, too, I read it! We have so much in common Siarlys. Interesting that you claim I "don't know anything" (personal, dismissive... well played). And there's no rhetoric, no game playing, on my part. We can debate the facts anytime, which is what I keep offering.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Don't offer to debate, Cottage Child, offer the facts you think are relevant. Lord knows you don't need my permission to post them.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Seeing this again reminded me to look up the results. Seventy one percent voted no. Colorado, some native columnists are asserting is a pro-choice state, and the turnout for this intiative probably cost the Republican candidate for senate, who lost by a thin margin.

Added to the vote in South Dakota a few years ago, it seems clear to me that the undoubted growing unease over the mass production of abortions, and the casual option to abort, does not translate into votes for recriminalization. No wonder the Republican Party hesitates to really do anything about the anti-abortion language in their platforms.