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Last updateFri, 24 Oct 2014 5pm


 

Rand Paul and Cory Gardner's Problem With Chimps

by Gualberto Garcia Jones
(National Policy Director for the Personhood Alliance)

    As of the writing of this story, if you run a google news search on the word “personhood” two clusters of news appear.  The first set of articles relate to Tommy the chimp and the case that is being argued on appeal in the State of New York to establish legal personhood for animals. The second cluster is a barrage of “news” articles - more political porn than news - in which the main stream media is attempting to portray all politicians who support or supported universal human personhood as either Taliban-like religious zealots, or hypocrites running from their past.

    Let’s start with the story of Tommy the chimp, for it serves as a perfect illustration of the views of those who have abandoned personhood as the foundational source of human rights.  

    Traditionally, human rights were based on the Christian principle of the Imago Dei, which is the concept that human beings are created in God's image and therefore have inherent value independent of their utility or function.  This religious principle is what allowed Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas to conceive the idea of international law: a law that would apply beyond the confines of Christendom to include every known and unknown human being.  And this religious concept is also what inspired John Locke to formulate the principle of human equality and the consequent requirement for governments to obtain the consent of the governed.  It is no stretch to say that the principle of the Imago Dei based in Genesis 1, 26-28 gave Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers of the United States, and every constitutional republic thereafter, the moral and philosophical underpinning for the creation of the modern political world as we know it.

    And this is where Tommy the chimp’s status as a person gets interesting.  The animal rights activists, represented by attorney Stephen Wise, argue that because chimps "posses self-awareness, empathy, elements of culture, complex memory and recognition of death", they should be considered legal persons.  If they are persons, the argument goes, then their confinement should give them cause for a writ of habeas corpus (whereby the custodian of a prisoner is made to prove that there is a legal justification for the detainment.)

    Applying the same standards that animal rights activists are using to argue for animal personhood, the abortion industry (and its legal and political cabal) argue that at his or her earliest stages, human beings are not possessed of the necessary qualities of  persons and therefore their killing is justified.

    Under this alternative theory of rights based on ability rather than humanity, Peter Singer (Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University) openly argues that legal abortion should extend after birth into infanticide, and that pigs should have more rights than a newborn.  As disgusting as Professor Singer’s views may seem to us, at the very least Mr. Singer applies the non Imago Dei logic correctly:

    “The argument that a fetus is not alive is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being's life.”

    The “press” should make advocates of abortion and animal personhood defend the conclusions of their logic, but of course, they don’t.  For as Professor Singer sincerely states, some would rather resort to "convenient fictions" to justify their unsavory positions.

    And that brings us back to the second cluster of “personhood” in the news, and that is universal human personhood.  Convenient fictions aside, science is unequivocal regarding the developmental stages of the human being.  Every human being’s life started as a zygote: that single cell that packs the punch of a big bang.  The scientific recognition of the start of a human’s life along with the religious commandment to protect all innocent humans is what has led the pro-life movement to declare that the right to life should begin at conception.

    The phrase that life begins at conception has a nice flow to it, and generally, pro-life politicians embrace the sound of it, even if they almost never fully embrace the logical conclusions.  For there is nothing like being accused by the media of attempting to outlaw "commonly used forms of birth control” to break up the sweet flowing sound of “life begins at conception.”

    If you don’t believe me, ask Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, who after coming under Democrat and mainstream media fire for supporting personhood and the idea that fundamental human rights begin at conception, has suddenly become the most outspoken advocate for “affordable, over the counter contraception.”  Of course, by “contraception” he means chemicals and devices that may or may not kill a developing human being, but those are just details, right?  Or ask Dr. Rand Paul, now a presumptive presidential candidate, who after being the prime sponsor of a federal personhood bill, blithely stated that of course he supports the abortifacient morning after pill.  Add to that the repudiation of personhood by Republicans Joni Ernst from Iowa and Thom Tillis from North Carolina and you get the drift.

    Democrat strategists think they have a silver bullet, or based on the number and repetitive nature of their attacks it is more appropriate to say that they have a couple of silver mines, bullet factories in Washington DC consultant firms, and machine guns in every news room in America.

    Only in a very sick society could we read the media simultaneously lionizing the people who argue that a chimpanzee should be treated as persons while ridiculing and chastising politicians that believe that our legislation should recognized unborn human beings as persons.  

    So what are we pro-lifers to do?  Repudiate our principles in the face of attacks?  Treat the American constituent like “low information voters” and try to pitch them the convenient fiction that we “support life” but don’t really care to think through the details?  Should we tell and believe these little lies in order to get “our people” into office?

    I think that this election cycle will prove that specially on fundamental questions, running away from your principles does not help you.  Running scared only puts blood in the water that attracts the sharks to come and bite your limbs off.

    Ronald Reagan, who Republicans love to emulate, wrote his pro-life treatise, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, while still in his first term.  In it, he stated his open support for personhood:

    “The Congress has before it several measures that would enable our people to reaffirm the sanctity of human life, even the smallest and the youngest and the most defenseless. The Human Life Bill expressly recognizes the unborn as human beings and accordingly protects them as persons under our Constitution.”

    Has America deteriorated to the point where Republicans have to run away from Ronald Reagan?

    In school, running away from a fight makes you a sissy, in modern American politics, well, it still makes you a sissy.  Even after all the anti-bullying education out there, everyone knows that the best way to get rid of bullies is to stop being a sissy and confront them.  

    In the age of the dreaded female vote - that mass of proletariat who allegedly want nothing more than to abort as many children as possible for as low a cost as possible - it would be refreshing for a politician to man up.  And by that I mean to be an intellectual and political leader.  

    Politicians and other leaders must deal with the fundamental issue of the right to life with logic and faith.  Point out that it is abortion advocates who have to answer to young women as to whether the “contraception” that they are pushing down their throats is causing them to kill their unborn children.  Make abortion advocates tell the American people what logic they would use to guarantee human rights.  If it is only “possessing self-awareness, empathy, elements of culture, complex memory and recognition of death” then make them face the fact that by their standards chimps would have rights under our constitution but full term, viable fetuses would not.  Maybe even explain that the very very reason that we have animal rights in the first place is that we humans see some reflections of our humanity in certain animals, and that the characteristically human traits such as self-awareness, bonding, memory etc. reinforce the idea that humans have an inherent value independent of anything else.

    America is under a siege of ideas, immersed in a philosophical existential battle.  The battle is far past political elections and parties.  Both animal rights activists and abortion advocates seek to destroy the concept of inherent human rights founded upon the principle of the Imago Dei.  To fight this evil empire we don’t need more John Boehners, we need more Ronald Reagans.

    There is a reason why freedom has flourished in Judeo Christian nations.  As Locke posited, men and women were created free and equal, deriving their value not from a particular nation state but from their essential humanity and from God.  That which caused the fall, the temptation to play God, to decide who lives and who dies, is what is destroying Christendom.   

    Perhaps though, we have reached a new low, for as the battle over personhood illustrates, not only do we want to decide who lives and who dies, but we also wish to be The Creator, making animals in our own image.  For how else can granting human rights to chimpanzees be described?

    These may seem like farcical situations but they are symptomatic of a society in dire need of intellectual leadership.

    If a politician asks for your vote but doesn’t know where our freedom comes from or is unwilling to stand up, articulate, and defend his ideals consistently, then that politician does not deserve your vote.  After all they may end up defending the rights of chimps over those of children.

    Universal human personhood must be our litmus test.  The future of the world depends on it.


The Modern Personhood Movement—What is it?

Personhood is a shift back to a Christ-centered view on the sanctity of life and all dignity of life issues. We begin with a recognition of the dignity of the human person at all stages of development due to the image of God in all human beings, the imago Dei.

To understand the Personhood strategy, you simply have to look at three passages in the Bible, which are easy to remember, Genesis 1, Jeremiah 1 and Luke 1.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Luke 1:39-45 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Personhood represents a paradigm shift in the pro-life movement in that we begin with scripture and insist that the right to life is God-given in that we are all created in the image of God and were made in God’s image from our biological beginning in the womb.

Years ago, I first heard someone say that the political end of the pro-life movement failed at its inception because it was never Christ-centered and you can’t fight a demonic force with natural weapons. We hear the phrase, “You can’t fight Goliath in Saul’s armor.” This means that man’s efforts will fail, but God’s plan for victory is according to His plan.

At first, I thought it was a cynical comment. Finally, I realized that the truth is far worse than that. Our struggle does not begin and end with abortion. Abortion is just an obvious outcropping of a deep spiritual problem we have as a culture in failing to recognize some of the most fundamental of all biblical truths.

To explain why the Personhood paradigm is much larger than just a plan to end abortion, we first need to understand a bit of history.

Roe v. Wade did not establish a women’s right to choose abortion. It established the right to privacy concerning the abortion procedure and was meant to protect doctors from criminal proceedings.

The Personhood of the unborn child is already established in many of our laws. Case in point: Ariel Castro and Charles Van Zant, a Florida state representative from Keystone Heights, has said that Roe established a loophole in the law governing murder.

A Brief History of the Recent Pro-Life Movement

Paradigm Shift #1 – The Bishops Plan

At the time Roe v. Wade was passed, the only large religious body that had an active plan to oppose abortion was the Roman Catholic Church. Most Protestant denominations were either silent on the issue and some even issued statements of agreement with Roe. Now we would expect that from liberal bodies such as the United Methodist Church, the Episcopalian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Church of Christ (Congregationalists), the PCUSA. We expect a weak view on the pro-life issue from the unorthodox – the Seventh Day Adventists, the Unitarians, the Mormons and so on.

Much to our shame, some evangelicals joined the chorus of briefs that were written in favor of Roe. Even the conservative Southern Baptist Convention prior to Roe, called on all Baptists to work for abortion rights.

Resolution On Abortion, adopted at the SBC, June 1971:

WHEREAS, Christians in the American society today are faced with difficult decisions about abortion; and ?WHEREAS, Some advocate that there be no abortion legislation, thus making the decision a purely private matter between a woman and her doctor; and ?WHEREAS, Others advocate no legal abortion, or would permit abortion only if the life of the mother is threatened;

Therefore, be it RESOLVED, that this Convention express the belief that society has a responsibility to affirm through the laws of the state a high view of the sanctity of human life, including fetal life, in order to protect those who cannot protect themselves; and ?

Be it further RESOLVED, That we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.

Resolution On Abortion And Sanctity Of Human Life, adopted at the SBC convention, June 1974:

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have historically held a high view of the sanctity of human life, and ?WHEREAS, The messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis in 1971 adopted overwhelmingly a resolution on abortion, and ?WHEREAS, That resolution reflected a middle ground between the extreme of abortion on demand and the opposite extreme of all abortion as murder, and ?WHEREAS, That resolution dealt responsibly from a Christian perspective with complexities of abortion problems in contemporary society; ?Therefore, be it RESOLVED, that we reaffirm the resolution on the subject adopted by the messengers to the St. Louis Southern Baptist Convention meeting in 1971, and ?Be it further RESOLVED, that we continue to seek God's guidance through prayer and study in order to bring about solutions to continuing abortion problems in our society.

Resolution On Abortion, adopted at the SBC convention, June 1976:

WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have historically held a biblical view of the sanctity of human life, and ?WHEREAS, Abortion is a very serious moral and spiritual problem of continuing concern to the American people, and ?WHEREAS, Christians have a responsibility to deal with all moral and spiritual issues which affect society, including the problems of abortion, and ?WHEREAS, The practice of abortion for selfish non-therapeutic reasons want-only destroys fetal life, dulls our society's moral sensitivity, and leads to a cheapening of all human life, and ?WHEREAS, Every decision for an abortion, for whatever reason must necessarily involve the decision to terminate the life of an innocent human being. ?Therefore be it RESOLVED, that the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Norfolk in June 1976 reaffirm the biblical sacredness and dignity of all human life, including fetal life, and ?Be it further RESOLVED, that we call on Southern Baptists and all citizens of the nation to work to change those attitudes and conditions which encourage many people to turn to abortion as a means of birth control, and ?Be it further RESOLVED, that in the best interest of our society, we reject any indiscriminate attitude toward abortion, as contrary to the biblical view, and ?Be it further RESOLVED, that we also affirm our conviction about the limited role of government in dealing with matters relating to abortion, and support the right of expectant mothers to the full range of medical services and personal counseling for the preservation of life and health.

This complicity in the abortion holocaust is a dark stain on the evangelical movement. It ought to give us cause to pause and consider that evangelicals were in large part responsible for legal abortion.

The Catholic Bishop’s plan was a comprehensive, state-by-state plan to pass a Human Life Amendment at the federal US Constitutional level, but it also included a grassroots strategy of passing state laws and amendments and using the “states rights” clause of the tenth amendment to resist federal tyranny in the form of legalized child killing.

The Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, to their great credit, refused to compromise with the “exception clauses” of Roe for rape, incest and the health of the mother. Sadly, they didn’t have the support of the majority of Americans and especially of the large Protestant church denominations, such as the Southern Baptists, who would not join in an uncompromising, no exceptions stance. The Bishops Plan failed in part because many state and federal legislators were only willing to support a plan that had the “exceptions.”

This was the first split in the pro-life movement.

Paradigm Shift #2 – The Hyde Amendment

In 1976, Representative Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) sponsored an amendment to the Federal Budget appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). His amendment denied Medicaid funding for abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger or she is pregnant as a result of rape or incest, but only if the woman reports the incident at the time of its occurrence. Despite opposition from pro-abortion groups, Hyde attached this amendment every year to the same appropriations bill. The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Hyde amendment (Harris v. McRae, 448 U.S. 297, 100 S. Ct. 2671, 65 L. Ed. 2d 784 [1980]; McGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420, 81 S. Ct. 1101, 6 L. Ed. 2d 393 [1961]).

See: After Roe v. Wade

The Hyde Amendment was opposed in the beginning by the Catholic Bishops, since it included the “exceptions,” but supported by several evangelical groups who had by now joined the pro-life movement. Although there is evidence that some lives have been saved due to the Hyde Amendment, Personhood advocates worry that any law that allows child murder in certain cases actually strengthens the pro-abortion agenda. It undermines our argument that abortion is child murder. Other life advocates argue that the “exceptions” become a necessity to save some lives even while they “chip away” at Roe and try to eliminate abortion incrementally and gradually.

Paradigm Shift #3 – Personhood

The modern Personhood movement was begun in the state of Georgia over seven years ago by Georgia Right to Life president Dan Becker. Personhood came about when Becker sought to revive the strategy of the Bishops Plan focusing on passing a Human Life Amendment to the state constitution of Georgia. Ironically, the evangelicals now lined up behind Becker’s agenda, while National Right to Life and the Catholic Bishops now opposed it. Their reasoning as I just outlined was that any state law or amendment that did not have the exceptions was unacceptable as a sound strategy to chip away at Roe.

In 2008, Personhood USA was then established by Cal Zastrow and Keith Mason, who are now working toward legislative and voter initiatives in over 30 states. In every state where it has been tried, several “pro-life” organizations, including Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, National Right to Life and the Catholic Bishops have opposed Personhood.

It’s ironic that now several conservative “pro-life” commentators, such as Sean Hannity, hold the view that the exceptions are necessary in order to pass restrictive legislation – even though the Roe decision was framed around these very exceptions! They want to reverse Roe as a decision even while they keep it in place through legislation.

In terms of paradigm shifts, compared to where we were at in 1973, the pro-life movement now stands on its head.

Why Personhood now?

The shift in the pro-life movement is to go back to square one and define that a human being is a Person from biological beginnings with no exceptions for the circumstances of conception.

Already the nation of Mexico, where the capital city recently made abortion legal, about half of the state legislatures have passed Personhood Amendments that would keep the federal government from imposing abortion on the states from above as occurred with Roe v. Wade in the United States. In our country, we now have to work backward and pass Personhood even while trying various ways to undo Roe. The reality is that we cannot do one without the other. Overturning Roe won’t make abortion illegal in each state. Passing Personhood won’t supersede Roe. Now we have two tasks to accomplish at one time.

But this strategy has already worked in Mexico. Poland is moving toward having Personhood in their national constitution. The nation of Hungary has the first constitution of the 21st century. Hungary has the following in their newly written constitution:

“Human dignity is inviolable. Everyone has the right to life and human dignity; the life of a fetus will be protected from conception.”

Personhood is a worldwide movement led by the Holy Spirit. The focus of pro-life groups in many countries around the world is shifting from regulating abortion to defining what a Person is.

Pro-life advocates in our own country support Personhood philosophically almost without exception. The only difference between Personhood advocates and the rest of the pro-life movement is a disagreement over timing. They want to wait to stack the Supreme Court bench with conservatives and overturn Roe. We want a grassroots movement that will vote on Personhood amendments now. I often tell people that if we work toward Personhood now, we will eventually get there. If we delay our obedience, then we will be counted among those who opposed Personhood even when our support was needed the most.

The Biological Time Bomb

There is a biological time bomb ticking. The advances we saw in physics and chemistry in the early 20th century resulted in major paradigm shifts in those sciences. Biology is lagging behind, but huge advances are around the corner. Philosophers and religious leaders have thought about the issues surrounding life, death and immortality for thousands of years, but the structure of the DNA molecule has been known for less than 60 years.

What does that mean? It usually takes a generation or more for a major discovery to percolate through an entire scientific field. The major battles that Personhood advocates will fight in the next 50 years will have nothing to do with abortion. In fact, abortion may all but disappear due to advances in science. In a couple of years, a woman will be able to walk into Walgreens and buy an over-the-counter fertility monitor that may be worn as a watch. This will have the function of telling within a 99.9 percent certainty when the wearer is fertile.

Technology can be used for both good and evil. We should welcome these advances and prepare to use them to save lives. We certainly won’t be able to stop the bio-technological tidal wave that is coming. We’ll also have scanning devices within the next ten years that will be able to “see” in real time the baby as it develops in the womb – not just during a trip to a doctor – but through an “ultrasound baby monitor” that may be worn at all times just like today’s heart monitors.

Medical technology will be used to save lives in a greater capacity than ever before. Abortion will become increasingly intolerable as a “choice” for women.

However, with this biological time bomb, there is a Pandora’s Box of new possibilities that bring serious moral, legal and ethical questions. There is on the horizon the possibility of cloning, genetic engineering, eugenics, embryonic experimentation, organ harvesting, human-animal hybrids, euthanasia, nano-technology, advanced artificial intelligence, “cyborgism,” “post-humanism,” “trans-humanism,” and so on. This might seem like science fiction to you, but if you are part of Generation-Y, you will live to deal with the social conflict these developments in bio-technology will cause.

Pesonhood.net

Personhood.net has a “must-see” presentation on these emerging bio-technologies.

The paradigm shift that we see coming is based on the fact that most pro-choice advocates are actually pro-Personhood once we take the concepts of “anti-abortion” and “pro-life” out of the argument. There is a 50-50 split over the topic of abortion, with many in the “mushy middle” advocating some type of compromise. Over 90 percent of college students interviewed agree that such horrors as eugenics and experimentation on living fetuses ought to be illegal. When they are asked to provide the rationale for their stance, they will often invariably say that this is a developing human being and ought to have the right to dignity.

It is imperative that we seize the opportunity to create cognitive dissonance in the minds of young people who may otherwise think of themselves as pro-choice, perhaps due to the pressure to be politically correct, but are otherwise in favor of Personhood as the only alternative to what they see as Nazi eugenics and other dehumanizing abominations. From there the mental shift to recognizing the full Personhood of the unborn child without exception is just a short step away.

The Abortion Matrix

The Abortion Matrix video seminar and DVD was developed to try to enlighten and equip Christians to see the spiritual reality of this fight.
 
Education, Constitutional Initiative, Legislation/Political Action

If you haven’t worked for the Personhood Amendment, there is still time to get involved. People ask me when we are going to be on the ballot in Florida. In fact, this is a battle we will be fighting for the long term. We are a young movement. Florida has a much more difficult requirement than any other state to get a constitutional amendment initiative on the ballot—except for maybe California.

In reality, we are in the foundational stages. Personhood Florida is the first state affiliate of Personhood USA, which itself about five years old, and we are working closely with the national organization to establish a protocol for all state affiliates. We began as a single issue PAC, which sponsored the amendment. In 2013, we filed for recognition as a 501(c)3 organization, which does the education. Then we are in the process of filing our 501(c)4 which will handle fundraising for the ballot amendment and political action, legislation and campaigning.

We have three goals, education, the citizens initiative and then legislation, political lobbying and endorsing candidates who endorse Personhood.

Nationally, North Dakota will be voting on a Personhood Amendment in 2014. Colorado will also vote on a “Personhood compliant” amendment that will protect preborn.

The important point we should be clear about. Personhood is not about overturning Roe v. Wade or even about abortion primarily—we are thinking about sanctity of life issues that are 50 years down the road—and that is how we can win—by recognizing the sanctity of life by defining what a Person is. Personhood is due to the image of God present in all human beings. We are not asking government to define Personhood—we are asking government to recognize it as an inalienable right.

We don’t see much of a downside to the next Personhood vote in November. Win or lose, we believe that we will be the winners in the long run because as the Personhood movement gains national attention we will gain the momentum needed to advance in other states, the nation and the world.

How Personhood Transcends Biology

In Georgia Right to Life's 5-hour training seminar, called “Pillars of Personhood,” the most difficult topics to teach and for students to absorb is the “Emerging Technology” section. That's because when we venture into the realm of cyborgism, cloning, artificial intelligence, and chimeras, black and white distinctions of right and wrong get cloudy. The introduction of complex biological and biotechnological scenarios demands the guidance of philosophy, theology, constitutionality, jurisprudence, and bioethics in the conversation. If the issue of personhood were a simple one, we wouldn't need 5 hours to simply lay the structural framework to consider the sanctity of human life, or ratification of constitutional amendments to provide for personhood legislation. That being said, it's probably problematic to grab one bioethical issue and argue that the entire personhood movement is nonsensical – which is exactly what Dr. Jane Maienschein of Arizona State University did at Slate.com.

In her very educated article, Dr. Maienschein presents the real-world issue of chimerism – where one organism possesses more than one distinct set of genetic cells – as the grounds for dismantling personhood legislation. Her case is simple: if personhood is granted at the moment of fertilization and one person contains the DNA of another person, then that one person is actually two people. This, of course, brings up all sorts of problematic issues (How many votes do these multi-persons get? Did an embryo absorbing its twin commit homicide? Is one conjoined twin more of a person than the other?). In fairness, Dr. Maienschein's perspective is 100% correct if personhood is based solely on the genetic makeup of an individual. Thankfully, the issue of personhood is broader than biology. In fact, in essence, it must be broader than pure biology in order to answer Dr. Maienschein's questions.

Personhood is not merely a description of your genetic makeup; it's a description of your standing in terms of legal rights and protections. A person is not just a human being; a person is a human being who is granted equal protections under the Constitution. A person is someone who is endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

To limit personhood to biology is dangerous. Human nature is such that we historically and inevitably deny rights to other human beings regardless of their genetic makeup. We did it to the Native Americans, blacks, women, and Jews, and now we do it to the disabled, the elderly, and the preborn. We can't rely on humankind to respect the sanctity of human life simply because someone is human, because they haven't before. That's why we craft legislation like the Sanctity of Human Life Act which allows us to lay a foundation upon which we can pass laws to protect human beings based on the endowment of legal rights and protections – personhood – from the moment of fertilization.

The complex yet comprehensive nature of the personhood movement is what allows us to navigate through the murky waters of bioethics and policy regarding issues like chimerism. Dr. Maienschein brings up the scenario of an embryo that absorbs its twin, resulting in one living embryo containing two sets of genetic material. Her concern is whether homicide charges are merited for the surviving twin, or whether that individual is granted two votes since he or she came from two separate fertilizations. The loss of one twin through absorption is no more a homicidal act than the miscarriage for a pregnant mother. These events can be tragic, but are common and naturally occur in human development with innumerable variables involved in each. And what of the individual with multiple genetic cells? This brings us to the Principle of Wholes and Parts. A person who obtains genetic material from their mother or sibling during pregnancy is no more two people than a grown adult who receives a blood transfusion or organ transplant is two people. One person possessing parts of another person does not create a second whole person within the first.

The issue of personhood transcends biology so that we can consider these scenarios within the constructs of biology, ethics, law, history, and theology to understand the nature and value of mankind and create policy to protect it. That's also why the personhood movement is not just a guise to outlaw abortions. If human life begins at fertilization (which no credible embryologist will contend), and we have a moral duty to protect innocent human life, then the issue of personhood doesn't begin and end in the womb. Personhood begins at fertilization and ends with natural death. The elderly infirm, the disabled, and the preborn are all equal in value and should be protected equally.

Dr. Maienschein closes her article by stating that, “knowing biology will not tell us how to act or what is right and good.” And she's right. That's why it's important to understand the whole picture of the sanctity of human life and make the case for personhood – the paramount right to life.

In the interest of helping to educate others on the complex nature of human personhood, I'd like to personally invite not only Dr. Maienschein but anyone who is interested in the sanctity of human life and biopolicy to one of our personhood training seminars. We host them here in Georgia (but aren't afraid to travel), provide snacks and lunch, and leave you with an educational handbook to refer back to later. For more information on Pillars of Personhood, to schedule a training in your community, or to find an upcoming seminar in your area, please contact or visit www.grtl.org/pillars-of-personhood.

 

Joshua Edmonds is the Director of Education & Technology for Georgia Right to Life, an instructor for the Pillars of Personhood training seminar, and a published clinical/social psychology researcher.

Tips on Talking With Your Legislator

There are several ways that state and national legislators can be urged by concerned citizens to support life-protecting legislation: personal visits, telephone calls, letter writing and rapid communication.

PERSONAL VISITS
Take every opportunity to educate your legislators. Contact their area office for an itinerary of speaking engagements or check the local newspaper for upcoming events that the legislator will attend. Visit legislators in their district offices. They may have more time to talk and can relate to you as a constituent. A visit to the legislator's office in the state or national capitol is also effective.Checklist:

  • Make an appointment.
  • Gather information about your legislator, especially his stand and voting record on the life issues.
  • Know specifically what you want to accomplish during the meeting.
  • Be on time for the appointment, but be patient if your legislator encounters unexpected delays.
  • Your first and lasting impressions are important. Look and act your best.
  • When introducing yourself, start on a positive note. For example, compliment the legislator on his voting record.
  • Be brief and concise, but cover all points, which concern you.
  • Let your legislator talk.
  • Listen to what he has to say. Take notes, if necessary.
  • Respect the legislator's knowledge of the issue and respond to questions asked. If you cannot answer, admit it, and offer to find the answer. This will give you another opportunity to visit, call, or write, thus developing a continuing relationship.
  • Offer to leave useful statistics, charts, or data, or to send more information. Most importantly, offer literature, which educates the legislator on the issue.
  • Do not threaten or be sarcastic! Even if a legislator cannot vote for your side of the current issue, he may be helpful to you on another occasion. DO NOT BURN YOUR BRIDGES!
  • Leave your business card with a note about how the legislator should vote on specific bills.
  • Send a thank you note reiterating your main points.
  • Ongoing contact is needed to encourage pro-life legislators to stay pro-life.

Because an issue is pending in Congress or the State Capitol, do not assume that your legislator is knowledgeable on the subject. Low-key, friendly conversation can be very meaningful, particularly if its theme is repeated often enough by a variety of people. The legislator will begin to get the message that there is an issue that is really important to constituents.

TELEPHONE CALLS
You may prefer to call your legislator, especially if you have met previously through a personal visit. Though you will most likely talk with an aide, a phone call is particularly effective if time is short.

Suggestions:

  • Always make phone calls during normal waking hours (9am-9pm) but do not be surprised if your legislator calls back any time of the day or night.
  • State legislators can usually be reached at their Atlanta office during the General Assembly (January - March). During the rest of the year, contact the legislator at his work or home.
  • Federal legislators can be contacted in Washington or at their home office.
  • Identify yourself, reminding the legislator of a previous meeting or contact.
  • State your business clearly, concisely and courteously.
  • Have some notes jotted down so you will remember everything you wish to discuss.
  • Be sure to give a bill number and title.
  • Listen carefully to what your legislator says or asks. If you do not have the answer, tell him you will investigate further and call back.
  • Thank your legislator for the time and consideration given you.
  • Follow a telephone call with a letter restating the points of the call, especially if you must leave a message with an aide.

LETTER WRITING
Most legislators keep a mail file on every bill and review it carefully when the bill comes to the floor for a vote. A legislator may read portions of a well-written letter aloud during committee hearings or floor debate. A few persuasive letters may determine how a legislator votes.

Suggestions:

  • Write on personal or business letterhead (with employer approval).
  • Identify your topic immediately.
  • If you write about a specific bill, refer to it by number and subject.
  • Confine your letter to a single issue and a single page.
  • Explain why you support or oppose a particular issue so that if amendments are proposed, the legislator will know their effect on your position.
  • Back your position with reliable facts, figures, and personal experience.
  • Include favorable pro-life articles and editorials.
  • Be clear, concise, and reasonable.
  • Do not make threats. You may need that legislator for another matter.
  • Be yourself. Use your own words. Avoid stereotyped phrases and sentences that give the impression of form letters.
  • Write your legislator while a bill is in committee or just before a vote is taken.
  • Always sign your name legibly. Include your return address in your letter in case the envelope is discarded.
  • Check the spelling of your legislator's name, and address him properly (The Honorable...).
  • Thank your legislator if he votes to protect life. He will know that you are aware of his voting record.
  • Be persistent. Do not be offended by a negative answer from your legislator. Write again and get others to write. A legislators mind can be changed!

RAPID COMMUNICATION

  • Email: Email is an excellent source to get information quickly and in large numbers. Remember to include your physical address so your legislator will know you live in his district.
  • Fax: Fax can be a great way to get your message out quickly, just remember to include your physical address so your legislator will know you live in his district.

FACTS ABOUT GOVERNMENT

1. Both U.S. Senators represent everyone in Georgia. State Senators represent designated districts within Georgia.

2. Only one U.S. Representative (Congressman) represents a given district to the U.S. House of Representatives. Since January 2003, there are now 13 congressional districts in Georgia.

3. In most areas, only one state representative represents a district. Even though a county has four different districts and thus four different representatives, only one of the representatives represents you. The exception to this is when a district has several posts. In this case, each representative of each post within the district represents you.

4. State senators and representatives are simply called Senator or Representative. U.S. Representatives are called Congressmen.

5. U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives perform their legislative work in Washington. State senators and state representatives do their legislative work in Atlanta.

6. Do not write U.S. Senators or U.S. Representatives about Georgia state bills. Likewise, do not write state senators or state representatives about national bills.

USE THESE WORDS CORRECTLY

LEGISLATOR - (noun) The person who makes the laws. (Rep. Yates is my legislator.)
LEGISLATION - (noun) The law itself. (Rep. Jones sent me a copy of the new legislation.)
LEGISLATURE - (noun) All the legislators together. (The legislature meets 40 days a year.)
LEGISLATIVE - (adjective) Relates to legislation. (The legislative session finished in March.)
LEGISLATE - (verb) To pass a law. (You cannot legislate kindness.)

 

http://www.grtlpac.org/?q=node/49

Alabama Supreme Court doubles down on pro-personhood ruling

April 22, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Last Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling that reaffirmed the state's protections against chemical endangerment "for all persons--born and unborn." This decision marks a major victory for the pro-life cause around the country, as the legal framework of abortion begins to crumble.

The case centered on Sarah Janie Hicks, who knowingly used dangerous and illegal drugs while pregnant. When the baby was born, the child tested positive for high levels of drugs and Hicks was charged with violating Alabama's chemical endangerment statute. Pro-abortion lawyers argued that the term "child" in Alabama law excludes the unborn, but the Alabama Supreme Court rejected that reasoning and doubled down on their pro-personhood Ankrom v. State decision from last year. They upheld Hicks's conviction in an 8-1 decision.