Killing Roe

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  June 29, 2018   

Justice Blackmun: If fetuses are persons, then Roe v. Wade ends

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In authoring Roe v. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun conceded that legally classifying fetuses as "persons" would instantly kill the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 landmark decision and immediately outlaw all abortions.

In writing the majority opinion in Roe, Blackmun gave pro-lifers the key to ending abortion. In the case, Texas argued that "the fetus is a 'person,'" whose right to life was protected by "due process" and "equal protection" of law under the Fourteenth Amendment. Blackmun responded, "If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment."

In his ruling, Blackmun also established that the majority of the states agreed with Texas that unborn babies are protected.

"Similar statutes are in existence in a majority of the States," wrote Blackmun. Judge Andrew Napolitano explains that, in deciding Roe, the Supreme Court "did so by declaring the baby in the womb to be a nonperson." He agrees with Blackmun that legally establishing unborn babies as persons would instantly negate Roe and make all abortions illegal.

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The Supreme Court taking away personhood does have precedent, says Napolitano.

"This is reminiscent," he noted, "of an infamous Supreme Court decision that precipitated the Civil War, called Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the Supreme Court declared African Americans to be nonpersons. Napolitano backs up Blackmun, saying that anyone legally defined as a person is automatically protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. He agrees the quickest way to stop all abortions is to legally declare unborn babies as persons.

This movement to establish personhood for the unborn has gained new force with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) releasing their 2018–2022 plan, which states life begins at conception and deserves protection. In the introduction, it declares, "HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception."

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There is currently a Personhood Proclamation petition being circulated that is urging President Donald Trump to sign an executive order establishing personhood for the unborn. It reads:

Please issue an executive order that directs all government agencies to interpret all actions and policies to recognize the personhood of the unborn and protect their full legal status as Americans. (The word "person" shall apply to all human beings at all stages of biological development from fertilization until natural death.)"

This executive order would be consistent with the President Ronald Reagan's proclamation of personhood for the unborn he penned in 1988, which proclaimed:

I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim and declare the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death, and I do proclaim, ordain and declare that I will take care that the Constitution and laws of the United States are faithfully executed for the protection of America's unborn children.

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