What is Personhood, Anyway???

Posted: January 23, 2017 in World On The Edge

unbornBack in 1973, the state of Texas argued during the Roe v. Wade proceedings that “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry 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.”

Now, the  2017 Alabama Supreme Court decision recognizing the unborn as persons deserving of legal protections could have significant implications in ending abortion in the U.S., say pro-life advocates.

On Jan. 11, 2017, the Alabama high court ruled that unborn children are protected by the state’s chemical-endangerment law.

The case involved two women who placed their unborn children at risk through the use of illegal drugs during pregnancy. One of the women acknowledged that she had smoked meth three days before her son was born prematurely. The child died 19 minutes later of “acute methamphetamine intoxication.”

Under Alabama law, it is a crime to chemically endanger a child by exposing him or her to a controlled substance. The women’s attorneys argued that the chemical-endangerment law does not apply to unborn children.

However, the court disagreed, observing that “the only major area in which unborn children are denied legal protection  is abortion, and that denial is only because of the dictates of Roe.”

So what is personhood?

The notion of personhood is a philosophical concept, but it finds its inspiration and deepening in the revealed doctrines that man is made in the image of God (imago Dei), and that man is called to a supernatural destiny, or, as The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church puts it, “is constitutively related to God in the most profound manner.” (Compendium, No. 108)

The Alabama Supreme Court emphasized that in upholding legal protection for the unborn it was being consistent “with the widespread legal recognition that unborn children are persons with rights that should be protected by law.”

It also noted that its decision is in keeping with the state Constitution’s Declaration of Rights, which proclaims that “all men are equally free and independent; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”–NCRegister

“Insidiously, when many moderns use the word “person,” they have a functional concept in mind, a notion that most have traced to John Locke’s definition of self in his Essay on Human Understanding as “a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places.”

Such a functional conception of personhood is convenient when you want to dispose of men, women, or children under color of morality. This is the trick the Compendium calls re-dimensioning. The trick is simple: those who do not have all the functions you happen to think are important are written out of personhood. They are then outside the pale of protection, and they are fair game to the more powerful. All of a sudden, by a sort of nominal legerdemain or prestidigitation applied to the term person–Presto!–might becomes right.

Hence, fetuses, and those in a persistent vegetative state, as well as the mentally infirm are not persons under a functional dimension, though under an ontological dimension they clearly are. This is the sort of re-dimensioning of the concept of person against which the Compendium warns.” — (Catholic Online. http://www.catholic.org)

Again, from the mouth of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun: “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.

Today there is no ‘if.’  An unborn baby is a person. He, She, and yes, WE, always have been in God’s infinite reasoning. Now, Alabama, and a growing number of other states, are re-establishing that truth.

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