Personhood Movement Continues to Divide Pro-Life Activists

A new legislative push in Wisconsin is the latest sign of a rift in the movement to limit abortion

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Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Md., on March 14, 2013

Heady after a string of recent antiabortion victories, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are testing the unity of the pro-life movement with a new push for a personhood amendment. The effort is the latest in a series of campaigns dividing activists who oppose abortion.

The bill’s author, André Jacque, a Wisconsin state representative, said last week that just eight lawmakers have signed on to sponsor the amendment, which would grant human embryos the same civil rights as people and effectively ban abortion under the state constitution. It does not appear poised to move much further even in Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature, which has enabled a number of recent restrictions on abortion.

The Wisconsin amendment has become a litmus test for antiabortion activists in the state, much like the growing rift nationwide between the nascent personhood movement and more established pro-life groups.

Bolstered by North Dakota’s approval of a personhood amendment this year, the personhood movement has gained a foothold among antiabortion activists, and is pushing pro-life advocates to adopt a more extreme message. Personhood advocates aim to outlaw all abortions, along with in vitro fertilization, stem-cell research and some types of birth control. Younger and more ideologically radical than traditional pro-lifers, movement activists view anything less than a total ban on abortion as a surrender.

“There are folks even in the pro-life movement who believe that there should be exceptions to abortion, so there is going to be some tension in the pro-life movement over personhood,” says Matt Sande, legislative director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, a pro-personhood group that pushed for the amendment. “The incremental approach is not working — the number of abortions is climbing over time. We need to end this. We need to end surgical abortion, without exception, without compromise, without apology. And that’s what personhood does.”

In Wisconsin, mainstream pro-lifers have been frustrated by the personhood movement’s lack of pragmatism and black-and-white view of what they see as complicated political, legal, biological and moral questions.

The state’s largest pro-life group, Wisconsin Right to Life, has opposed the recent personhood push, warning that the proposed amendment will waste money, time and potentially hurt the state’s pro-life efforts in the long run.

“I don’t want to talk about the personhood amendment anymore. I’m done talking about the personhood amendment,” says Sue Armacost, the legislative director of Wisconsin Right to Life. “This particular measure might sound good from a pro-life perspective, but it’s not going to save one single life.”

Pro-choice activists said the internal divisions among antiabortion groups have not made their efforts to ban abortion any less formidable. If anything, they said, the attention to personhood efforts has made other restrictions on abortion appear more acceptable to some.

“The bottom line is that they are trying to end all abortion,” says Julie Rikelman, litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City.

Of more than 10 states that have considered similar personhood measures, only one, North Dakota, has adopted an amendment, which now awaits final approval from the state’s voters in November 2014. And many pro-life activists agree that personhood laws do not pass muster with the Supreme Court’s past rulings. The Justices underscored this point in 2012, when they declined to hear an appeal of the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a proposed personhood ballot initiative, which ruled the amendment “clearly unconstitutional.”

In Colorado and Mississippi, voters overwhelmingly rejected similar ballot initiatives to add personhood amendments to their state constitutions. Antiabortion activists have also failed to advance personhood-amendment ballot initiatives in Ohio, Nevada and Florida, and bills on personhood amendments have failed to pass statehouses in Virginia, Georgia and Washington.

In Iowa, state lawmakers are currently considering an amendment that would apply the word person to all humans from the moment of conception. As in Wisconsin, that vote would need to pass the state legislature twice before going to Iowa voters for ratification.

Republicans in Washington are also taking up the cause. In Congress, Georgia Representative Paul Broun has introduced an expansive personhood bill that would grant a “one-celled human zygote” all of the “constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”

The bill, first introduced in 2011 and reintroduced this year, has 38 Republican co-sponsors, including Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee and who is often mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, another possible Republican 2016 contender, has introduced his own personhood legislation in the Senate, which he claims will end abortion in the U.S. “once and for all.”

Other potential 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, have previously supported personhood measures, although Walker did not respond to TIME’s requests for comment on whether he would support the proposed amendment in his state.

Nationally, mainstream antiabortion groups like Americans United for Life and Susan B. Anthony List have distanced themselves from the personhood movement. Adopting the rhetoric of women’s health used by their pro-choice counterparts, these groups are recalibrating their strategies to target the 52% of Americans who think abortion should be legal in some, but not all, cases.

To that end, abortion opponents say their momentum is building, particularly in the wake of the horrific murder trial of Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who performed illegal and occasionally gruesome late-term abortions in a filthy clinic dubbed the House of Horrors.

States enacted more than 75 new measures restricting abortion and reproductive health in the first six months of 2013, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, the nonprofit sexual-health research organization.

“The pro-life movement is not one size fits all,” says Charmaine Yoest, head of Americans United for Life. “Most people want to see abortion restricted in some way, even if they don’t call themselves pro-life … We’re the ones occupying the middle ground.”

41 comments
GreatBehoover
GreatBehoover

Abortion advocates. Explain the miracle that occurs which your doctors and scientists agree on whereby a nonhuman becomes human miraculously as it passes through a birth canal? Nonhuman then human. Logic is where????

DrewHymer
DrewHymer

Grace Wyler, you need to retract this statement "Personhood advocates aim to outlaw all abortions, along with in vitro fertilization, stem-cell research and some types of birth control."  

Outlawing in vitro isn't the aim of Personhood advocates. Nor is outlawing in vitro even an affect of Personhood laws.  See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/personhood-doesnt-ban-ivf-response-atlee-breland


There's more wrong with your statement.  But that's a start.

danikekoa
danikekoa

PersonhoodUSA is hypocritical, deceptive, and ruthless in their tactics. Want to know why they divide activists? The "Prolife" Political Terrorist who murdered JonBenet Ramsey is "Pastor" Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Cult. He runs the ShadowGov "Small Foreign Faction" w/ a "Group of Individuals" who were in Boulder CO on Christmas Day 1996 & were in the middle of a $10 million lawsuit against BoulderPD & Dr. Warren Hern, late term abortionists just 9 days before JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in her basement. It was a political statement as part of a Satanic Ritual Abuse Cult to make a religious statement against the "child killers" who perform abortions. For the TRUTH about the ShadowGov -Google "Bob Enyart JonBenet Ransom Note"

orangeplasticfish
orangeplasticfish

I think I understand it...It is like gays and lesbians have a right to life, but not all rights that other persons have...So, when a woman must have an abortion to protect her life, which person's rights will take priorty? There was a pregnant woman sometime ago in Ireland who the hospital let die because they were afraid they would be charged with murder if they aborted the fetus. Personally, in a case such as this, a mature woman with family, friends, education and so on should be given priority over a fetus, but I guess that is just me.

MarkSchrider
MarkSchrider

I wish the mainstream media would stop using the term "pro-life" in reference to anti-abortion groups. Their whole movement is predicated, not on any actual concern for human life but rather, on the imposition of control over others.

Hermione
Hermione

This is nothing more than religious extremism.

I say it is time to do away with tax-exempt status for religious organizations, esp. those that pass themselves off as 'think tanks'.

BobEnyart
BobEnyart

Grace Wyler, You might want to correct your claim that, "Personhood advocates aim to outlaw... in vitro fertilization..."

I know that PersonhoodUSA has explicitly denied that personhood would outlaw IVF and a personhood think tank, American Right To Life, at http://americanrtl.org/talking-points#ivf , directly contradicts your claim. Grace, perhaps you could correct that?


mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

Giving free, long-term, reversible birth control (like IUDs) to all women who want it, would do more to reduce the number of abortions than any other legislation. End unplanned pregnancy!

calson33
calson33

Well, I guess that since Mexicans are going back across the border, Republicans need to start breeding more poor people at home instead of importing them.

DrewHymer
DrewHymer

"Personhood advocates aim to outlaw all abortions, along with in vitro fertilization, stem-cell research and some types of birth control."

------------------------------------

Wrong.  Please stop with the lies.    Personhood would not outlaw in-vitro.   See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/personhood-doesnt-ban-ivf-response-atlee-breland

------------------------------------

Personhood would also not stop stem-cell research.  It would only stop embryo-killing stem cell research.  Adult stem cell research, which is the only kind that has had any success, would still be available.

------------------------------------

Personhood would only ban abortion-causing birth control.


Garzhad
Garzhad

I hope this personhood movement falls on its face and dies. Seriously, i'm majority pro-life myself, but rabidly support widespread BC and abortion-options for victims of rape, incest, and pregnancies that put the mother's life in danger.

ococooby
ococooby

What about "personhood" for those on death row, eh?

Charles-EvaManning
Charles-EvaManning

If we are to enshrine in law the principle that life begins at conception, then it's time to start making plans.

All contraception that allows fertilization of the egg to occur and then terminates that life will have to be banned. I think we're nearly there.

Next, since life begins at conception, birth certificates need to be replaced by conception certificates, issued by the state for all females found to be pregnant. After all, birth is just another milestone in the child’s life. The conception certificate will state the date of conception, the child’s gender, and of course the name of the child. Science can pretty well pinpoint the date of conception, but it would probably take a week or two after conception to get the certificate issued.

Next, we need a law requiring that all fertile females, beginning with puberty and ending at menopause, be monitored for pregnancy. The most practical way to do this would be to give pregnancy tests monthly to all fertile females beginning at about the fifth grade, or age 10 for the home schooled, and lasting until conception is no longer possible. That way no child will be killed, or die naturally, without the death being recognized and recorded by the state, like the deaths of any other persons.

Since the death of a child is as important as the death of any other person, the vaginal discharges of females will have to be monitored to insure that no children are expelled from the womb before viability. If a child is discovered to have died in this way, the law should require an autopsy to determine the cause of death, which could include homicide or murder if the act of the mother or other person(s) caused the death.

Additionally, child protective services should be empowered to act if any female determined to be pregnant fails to avail herself of adequate pre-natal food and medical care.

When this nation affirms that life begins at conception, we're going to need such laws, so let's get started.

ChristinaA.Wilson
ChristinaA.Wilson

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SSN152604382
SSN152604382

@DrewHymer


A little something about JENNIFER MASON & ex-hubby KEITH MASON of PERSONHOOD USA, two criminal conspirators who work for convicted child abuser and PERSONHOOD USA, PERSONHOOD CO and COLORADO RIGHT TO LIFE RACKETEER ROBERT "BOB" ADOLPH ENYART DOB 1-10-59:

http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/6175/personhood_leaders%E2%80%99%C2%A0smear_campaign_debunked

Religion Dispatches, "Personhood Leaders’ Smear Campaign Debunked," 7/11/12
(http://url.ie/igq7)

"These people are evil, judgmental, self-righteous ego-maniacs—Bob Enyart, a convicted child abuser is the man behind PersonhoodUSA & currently the Masons are under investigation for criminal conspiracy & online criminal libel for making numerous false reports of child abuse against an innocent family."

http://www.BobEnyartMurderedJonebetRamsey.com

ROBERT "BOB" ADOLPH ENYART SSN152-60-4382 FBI# 678532LA7
CO License# CO368941 = con-artist/sadist/satanist. Why is a twice-divorced, twice-convicted child abuser like YOU concerned with "personhood," abortion and ANYTHING INVOLVING WOMEN AND CHILDREN? Answer: CONTROL.

ROBERT ADOLPH ENYART DOB 1/10/59, you might want to let everyone know that you're a TWICE-CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER out of Colorado, the REAL shadowRunt RACKETEER behind the FAILED racket PersonhoodUSA and that other FAILED creature American Right to Lies, who wants to protect kids. Here's your CBI CRIMINAL RECORD -- http://url.ie/iabq -- IT CLEARLY SHOWS YOU'RE A CAREER CRIMINAL as well as a TWICE-CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER who's spent time in jail because of his abuse towards children. It also says you have a DISCOLORED UPPER LIP!

In fact, here's your entire CHILD ABUSE COURT RECORD out of JEFFERSON COUNTY COLORADO when you beat the cop's sons (you're welcome!): http://url.ie/iabs

DrewHymer
DrewHymer

@orangeplasticfish Actually, that's not what happened in Ireland.    The doctors misdiagnosed her.  If they would have not screwed up, the baby would have been delivered and the lady's life would have been saved.

 Virtually all pro-lifers agree that women should be able to get life-saving medical treatment even when it results in the tragic death of her baby.   Recognizing the unborn baby is a person wouldn't change that.  See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/under-personhood-can-mothers-get-life-saving-medical-treatment

danikekoa
danikekoa

Bob Enyart LIES - Personhood is run by a Serial Child Killer!

*NEWS FLASH: Dylan Redwine, Jessica Ridgeway & JonBenet Ramsey were Murdered by the same MONSTER in Colorado: *R*O*B*E*R*T *A*D*O*L*P*H *E*N*Y*A*R*T = 6*6*6 = *DAXIS* = *SATAN'S SON*If you want to know the TRUTH about who organized the MURDERS of Dylan Redwine & Jessica Ridgeway ask "pastor" Bob Enyart of Denver Bible Cult, he knows. Call 1-800-8-ENYART - He conspired with Kimberly Kay Bowman along with a large "Group of Individuals" in a "Small Foreign Faction" to abduct & kill children then frame the parents or 17 yr-old gamers for the crime. Also ask the ShadowGov cyber-troll "Chelsea Hoffman" about the Clues That Break The Case - Call that CRIMINAL FRAUD at (702) 723-6541 & pass it along...

*NO CHILD-KILLING WITH TRANQUILITY*HELP US BRING THIS "PRO-LIFE" MURDERING PSYCHOPATH "PASTOR" TO JUSTICE! THE WORLD'S MOST EVIL SERIAL CHILD- KILLER is ShadowGov "Small Foreign Faction" Founder:

Robert Adolph Enyart DOB: 1-10-59

FBI# - 678532LA7CO

License# - CO368941

Social Security #152-60-4382

X-Pose the TRUTH:www.GenerationXpose.com www.BobEnyartMurderedJonBenetRamsey.comwww.KimberlyKayBowmanXposed.blogspot.com

SSN152604382
SSN152604382

@BobEnyart = con-artist/sadist/satanist.  Why is a twice-divorced, twice-convicted child abuser like YOU concerned with "personhood," abortion and ANYTHING INVOLVING WOMEN AND CHILDREN?  Answer: CONTROL.

ROBERT ADOLPH ENYART DOB 1/10/59, you might want to let everyone know that you're a TWICE-CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER out of Colorado, the REAL shadowRunt RACKETEER behind the FAILED racket PersonhoodUSA and that other FAILED creature American Right to Lies, who wants to protect kids.  Here's your CBI CRIMINAL RECORD -- http://url.ie/iabq -- IT CLEARLY SHOWS YOU'RE A CAREER CRIMINAL as well as a TWICE-CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER who's spent time in jail because of his abuse towards children.  It also says you have a DISCOLORED UPPER LIP!

In fact, here's your entire CHILD ABUSE COURT RECORD out of JEFFERSON COUNTY COLORADO when you beat the cop's sons (you're welcome!):  http://url.ie/iabs

  Here's when your dead ex-wife (you killed her, remember?) asked for an emergency restraining order against you for beating your own kids in 1996: http://url.ie/iabw

Here's when she got the emergency restraining order 8/26/96 (remember this?): http://url.ie/iabx

Here's the court's minute order AFFIRMING your restraining order because of your obsession with beating kids 10/24/96, two months before you murdered JONBENET RAMSEY: http://url.ie/iaby

In fact, here's your entire ADAMS COUNTY COLORADO COURT RECORD from your eight year DIVORCE/CUSTODY battle with at least one of your dead ex-wives: http://url.ie/iac3

And Happy Anniversary you CONVICTED CHILD ABUSER:  19 years ago today 7/24/94 you were given a summons for CHILD ABUSE ON A COP'S SON out of EL PASO COUNTY COLORADO, and here it is (You were found "not guilty" for some reason.  Guess the EL PASO COUNTY COURT isn't perfect.): http://url.ie/iac5

But that was your 2nd summons for child abuse.  Less than a month before that, on 6/26/94, you were given your 1st summons for child abuse on THE SAME COP'S SON....hmmmmm....here's the actual summons: http://url.ie/iac6

Here's your pre-sentence report for the child abuse offense, just in case the summons wasn't enough.  GOOD READ:  http://url.ie/iacj -- It says you have "NO REMORSE" for beating kids.  Your uncle said the same thing (http://url.ie/iacu).  It also says your FBI # is 678532LA7.

As for the FBI, you may want to let everyone know that the FBI, Boulder PD and about a dozen other state and federal agencies are investigating you, your shadow-criminal enterprise and your anti-abortion homegrown terrorist partner, KENNETH TYLER SCOTT (http://url.ie/iacl), for the murder of JONBENET RAMSEY in 1996.  Make sure you tell them to visit the website 

www.BobEnyartMurderedJonBenetRamsey.com

Yes, it's the website you don't wanna talk about.

GOOGLE your name "BOB ENYART" and see what shows up!  Guaranteed you're NOT GOING TO LIKE IT, BUT THE COPS SURE DO! :) (Don't forget to check out the images, too! http://url.ie/iacm)

At this point, would it surprise anyone to find out that BOB ENYART is a satanic "pro-life" "pastor" out of Denver? No?  Didn't think so. ROBERT6+ADOLPH6+ENYART6=666

And again, Why is a twice-divorced, twice-convicted child abuser like YOU soooo concerned with "personhood," abortion and anything else involving women and children? Hmmmm? Earth to Bob? Eh?

Would you like to know more?

"Personhood Leaders’ Smear Campaign Debunked" 7/11/12, http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/6175/personhood_leaders%E2%80%99%C2%A0smear_campaign_debunked


MartinHarvey
MartinHarvey

@DrewHymer Uhm, so once this "Personhood" thing gets implemented, where are you going to come up with the funds to investigate all miscarriages under the possibility of manslaughter, prosecute the mother who murdered the  8 week old "person" inside her if she drank, smoke or engaged in any activity deemed to have caused the miscarriage, er, murder, and imprison all of these women now convicted of manslaughter due to the fact that a large number of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and since we don't allow any child's death to go uninvestigated, there will undoubtedly be a significant rise in our prison population.

Also, since many of these women you're imprisoning for manslaughter - once you give those adorable bundle of cells personhood, you don't get to chose to not file charges, you can't just pick the laws you want to enforce - how are you going to handle all of these now homeless, motherless children? Are they going to orphanages? Set to work in factories?

Please let me know. I prefer smaller governments, not larger ones.

AmyPhillipsBursch
AmyPhillipsBursch

@DrewHymer  Although you people consider the pill, IUDs, implants and the morning-after pill to be "abortion-causing," right? So you're eliminating the most effective forms of birth control. Good work.

Hermione
Hermione

@Garzhad 

This whole personhood nonsense scares even some of the die-hard pro-lifers.

stephenthomasfox
stephenthomasfox

@MartinHarvey @DrewHymer  Don't forget to have insurance companies provide coverage for these unborn along with child support and possible social security benefits. Would an embryo by definition be a handicapped child considering its limbs and internal organs are as yet undeveloped? 

BobElkins
BobElkins

@MartinHarvey @DrewHymer   Will the parents get the extra tax deduction for the person not born before the end of the year? Can the Mother cast two votes while pregnant? Qualify for the express lane in traffic? Be charged for two seats for transportation? Child endangerment for a wide variety of activities like smoking or drinking? Just wondering if they thought this thing through.

DrewHymer
DrewHymer

@AmyPhillipsBursch @DrewHymer  

It doesn't matter what "you people" consider.   What matters are the facts.  No birth control pills or other devices would be banned until they are shown to cause abortions.

Charles-EvaManning
Charles-EvaManning

@DrewHymer @Charles-EvaManning So if a child dies due to natural causes, we just ignore it; but if there's reasonable suspicion or probable cause that someone caused the death, we prosecute. Why shouldn't we also ignore the deaths due to natural causes of children who have been born? By your reasoning, they should be treated as if they had never been born.

MartinHarvey
MartinHarvey

@DrewHymer @Charles-EvaManning yeah, you're kind of missing the point here; you don't get to pick the laws you want to enforce. if the embryo is a person separate from its mother, it gets to enjoy the same rights as you or I. please be consistent. I know it's difficult.

danikekoa
danikekoa

*TEAM RAPE* The Criminals behind PersonhoodUSA are Domestic Terrorists = "Pro-Life" Serial Child-Killers in CO - ShadowGov Assassins "Pastor" Bob Enyart & members of Denver Bible Cult - including Keith & Jennifer Mason, Kimberly Kay & Scott Bowman, Kenneth Tyler Scott, Doug McBurney & Dirty Sheriff's Deputy Gordon Carroll in Arapahoe County -K-9 Unit. The FBI & Police in 10 jurisdictions know about the "Small Foreign Faction" and this dangerous "Group of Individuals" & so should you. Pass it along...

www.BobEnyartMurderedJonBenetRamsey.com

DrewHymer
DrewHymer

@TallusRip @DrewHymer @AmyPhillipsBursch If they stop implantation, that's an abortion.

What you call a "blob of cells" is actually a living human being. If its not a human being, you're not pregnant.


Pro-lifers are very away how reproduction works.  We don't oppose reproduction. We oppose killing innocent human beings.

TallusRip
TallusRip

@DrewHymer @AmyPhillipsBursch There are currently no OCPs or other forms of birth control that cause abortions (they all work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or prevent fertilization, or prevent ovulation) but that has never stopped Repubics, Teabaggers or GOPoptarts from saying otherwise.  Not even Plan B causes abortions.  Only abortions cause abortions, but even then, terminating a rapidly dividing blob of cells is a far cry from murdering a baby.

Until more of these anti-choice people learn the facts about how reproduction actually works, and stop superimposing their bronze-age mythology into the decision-making process, women will continue to be under assault by this crap.  You'd think we'd have outgrown this ridiculous need to force women into animalistic cycles of breeding, considering how much the religious right insists we're not animals at all.

Charles-EvaManning
Charles-EvaManning

@DrewHymer I apologize for not making it clear in my previous post that I was referring to UNBORN children in relation to the idea that the advocates of personhood for the unborn want to treat unborn children as if they were never born, if the unborn's death results from natural causes. Logical consistency demands that if an unborn child is a person, and dies from natural causes, that death be treated the same as the death from natural causes of a child who survived birth. 

DrewHymer
DrewHymer

@Hermione @DrewHymer It's not religious mumbo-jumbo to recognize the conception begins the life of a human being.  Only science-denies attempt to deny it.   It's also not religious mumbo-jumbo to oppose killing innocent human beings.

Hermione
Hermione

@DrewHymer 

Please....

Then why waste the taxpayers money on this nonsense?  Then why waste the taxpayers money on defending all this anti-abortion legislation?

I would say this is a whole lot of government paperwork, over nothing more than religious mumbo-jumbo.

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