Human Rights

Black history’s vital role in protecting the unborn

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Personhood Mississippi is celebrating a State Supreme Court victory which allows the people of Mississippi to proceed with a planned ballot measure affirming the legal personhood of the unborn child. Personhood legislation such as that proposed by Personhood Mississippi with bi-partisan support seeks to help settle the question that the Roe v. Wade decision did not answer. Is the unborn child really a person? If the unborn child is a person, according to Roe, there is no “right to abortion”.  The Roe Court said:

The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a “person” within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. 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 [Fourteenth] Amendment.

The Fourteenth Amendment became a part of our U.S. Constitution after the Civil War and prohibits States from denying any “person” the right to life.

[…][N]or shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law […]

Since the “due process” clause refers to those accused of State crimes, and since all children in the womb are innocent, it follows that no State could allow abortion if the legal personhood of the unborn child were established. Even the liberal Supreme Court justices were in agreement with this point in Roe v. Wade.

Because the Fourteenth Amendment, which applies to every person legally defined as such in America, came about as a result of the struggle to free African-Americans from mistreatment by both individuals and State legislatures, all Americans owe a great debt to those who endeavored to bring this liberating amendment to fruition. Through the struggle to liberate African-Americans, America became both more united and more free. Since all of us are connected by virtue of our humanity, it would be only fitting for such an amendment to be the mechanism through which unborn children are liberated from certain death in the abortion mills of America.

Unfortunately, despite the phenomenal advancements in science which now remove all doubt about the personhood of the unborn child, not everyone is as willing as the Roe Court was back in 1973 to consider that protection for children in the womb might be worthy of consideration. Colorlines, a group that claims to represent people of color, is an example of an organization that deeply resents the idea that black history might end up being the catalyst for an end to abortion in America. This is how Colorlines characterizes Mississippi’s personhood legislation:

One of the most sickening features of the radical anti-choice movement is how it uses the meat of racial and gender justice struggles to manufacture its rhetorical sausage.

[…] But here comes Personhood Mississippi, using that history and legacy to assert their own Christianity-only, unconstitutional idea of “equal rights” for fetuses of any “size, location or developmental stage”: […]

[…] To be sure, I’m not surprised by this perversion of my history. […]

The Fourteenth Amendment is certainly a very important part of “black history”, but it is just as assuredly a part of American history. It is central to our country’s legal framework to protect basic human dignity in our courts of law. Black history should be considered to belong to and to inspire all Americans who, through it, have the guarantee that their rights may not be trampled on by any State legislature. It certainly does not apply only to Christians, blacks, or any other individual group, but to all of us.

This amendment that was clearly set in place in order to unite America, which had been torn apart by Civil War and racial injustice, can and should stand as an absolute guarantee of unity and of justice for all who are sorely and brutally down-trodden. As even the Roe Court claimed, this protection should extend to all who are legally defined as “person”…including the innocent unborn children in the womb.

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