Personhood: The Pro-Life Movement's Ultimate Goal
The bedrock principle of the pro-life movement - that all preborn babies are "persons" and all innocent people share the inalienable right to life - is the benchmark against which pro-lifers must evaluate any strategy to protect preborn children.
What is Personhood?
What is personhood and why is it so foundational to the pro-life movement? Put simply, a "person" is a human being who is fully protected under the law; and we use the legal term "personhood" to describe this condition. Once a human being is declared a person, that individual is guaranteed certain legal rights.
To better understand personhood, we begin by asking the fundamental question of when human life begins. Embryological science has made crystal clear that, in sexual reproduction, human life begins at fertilization: the union of an egg and sperm resulting in a unique, genetically distinct human being. The answer to the question of when human life begins is a biological one.
The follow-up question is: "Is this tiny embryonic human being a ‘person' who is guaranteed the right to life?" In other words, should human beings be protected in law as persons; as citizens upon whom full constitutional protections (due process, equal protection, etc.) should confer? The answer to the question of personhood is a political/legal one. Once a human being is declared to be a legal person, there simply can be no exceptions to his or her inalienable right to life; just as there are no exceptions to our right to life.
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