Personhood in North Dakota

“Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The personhood movement marches on, seeking to establish conception as the starting point for human life, when one is considered a “person” and due the same basic human rights as all people. These days the news is out of North Dakota, where they have already passed aggressive anti-abortion legislation and may go even farther … personhood.

The article notes that North Dakota has already passed legislation outlawing abortion after six weeks and outlawing genetic-selective abortions. One suspects court challenges will ensue.

Naturally, I believe in personhood. I believe that life begins at conception. As possiblywrong points out to me time and again, there are certainly reasons to debate that issue. To which I will gladly take up the North Dakota cause here (on the six week ban, not personhood … yet) and note that conception is, to my mind, far less arbitrary than birth. Whatever the “starting point” may be, I think most folks would agree that 10 seconds before birth, it is a baby – a human life. When did it become so? I say conception – but certainly not birth, or 10 s prior, or 4 weeks prior. It has been a human life for some time by that point (perhaps 9 months).

One thing I do find interesting in the article is the process by which a personhood amendment would come to pass in North Dakota:

“The state Senate passed two personhood measures last month, and the House could vote as soon as Tuesday. One of the bills would make the proposal a state law and another is a resolution that would put the definition into the state constitution, if passed by voters.”

If … passed … by … voters. It seems that the same contention about the difference between a republic and a democracy keeps rearing its head. Are we to live by majority rule, with the majority acting with impunity? Or shall we have some rights that are beyond the reach of simple majority? It’s a sticky wicket, to be sure.

People (of all ilk) have a funny way of clinging to “my human rights” when they’re out of the majority and “majority rule” when they are not. As a Christian, I will say that I naturally side with the former in general – the majority of people will rebel against God and do evil, probably best not to put them in charge. (Of course, the minority of people will do the same, as will the elites and all other people, so we probably shouldn’t put them in charge either. “Who should be in charge then?” I don’t know … maybe each person could be in charge of their own life?)

I note this simply to point out  that while I fully support personhood and hope it passes the vote (the majority doesn’t always get it wrong) I fully expect opposition to come in the form of “my rights have been violated.” I, of course, hold that the list of human rights must be exclusive or at the very least hierarchical (probably the latter). Your right of liberty does not supersede my right to life. My right to pursue happiness does not supersede your right to liberty. On and on. This bill expresses support for the top right in the hierarchy.

Where this all ends is anybody’s guess. Personhood has been tried in other places and failed. But it is good to see somebody making the pro-life case on the right grounds. We are not pro-life because we support a higher birth rate or responsibility in procreation. We are pro-life because we see that baby as a human being, created in the image of God (and an innocent one at that!). This is the basis of our pro-life position, and it fills out all the other questions.

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