The beauty of the Personhood Act is in its brevity. For far too long, necessity has required that we tinker around the edges while attempting to preserve life. The now-defunct Roe v. Wade decision established artificial roadblocks to fulfilling the promise of the American Dream to every individual. This meant that we could only address the most blatant violations of our original law such as partial birth abortion, which took a child’s life midway through delivery.
Then, dialogue began to surround viability, but that became an ever-changing target. Eventually, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging emerged as windows into the womb and the American consciousness began to reawaken as the new technology unveiled reality.
By declaring that “all men are created equal,” the founders pinpointed creation as the pivotal, self-evident moment when every human is endowed with their inalienable rights by virtue of natural law. Science easily answers the question that this imposes upon us. Conception is the only precise and defining event that distinguishes the introduction of a unique human being in possession of their own unique individuality as defined in their DNA.
At the moment of fertilization, the separate gametes are no longer potential humans but rather humans with potential. Nothing is necessary for this person’s continued survival that is not necessary for all of humanity – nourishment and shelter. Everything else is written into the genetic code of this distinct person.
Both the law and science substantiate that a new person is created at the moment of conception. The very next line of our American birth certificate declares the fundamental right to life immediately followed by the defining and foundational purpose of government – “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.”
Any government that does not secure the right to life of each individual within its jurisdiction has fractured the foundation upon which it stands.
Naturally, questions arise. Some have questioned the impact that personhood may have on in-vitro fertilization. In the real world, infertile, pro-life families have been successfully working through these ethical questions long before abortionists ever considered this an ethical dilemma. Their voices will be relevant in advocating for the moral viability of in vitro fertilization in a society that acknowledges the personhood of every human being.
Should a father be obligated to pay child support from the moment of conception? Should parents be able to claim the unborn child as a dependent? Why not? The bill does not draw any conclusions. However, I would not oppose these conclusions. Expenses begin immediately and young parents need all the help they can get.
What about miscarriages? Will parents and doctors be legally responsible? This has never been the case based in any prolife legislation and no one should expect the law to be interpreted any differently.
Doesn’t the Fourteenth Amendment confer personhood upon birth? Not unless personhood only belongs to citizens. Citizenship does not confer personhood. It would be awfully arrogant to suggest that only citizens of the United States are persons. The Fourteenth Amendment confers citizenship to those born within our borders, not personhood.
In fact, the Fourteenth Amendment specifically delineates the differences between the privileges of citizens and the rights of persons and reaffirms the right to life acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence. This amendment again secures a person’s right to life.
The ethical concern with some of these questions is when they are presented as a reason not to acknowledge foundational truth. We must begin with what is true before we can provide ethical answers to what ought to be. If we craft our laws on the firm foundation of our original documents supported by scientific truth, they will be just.
The personhood of the individual from the moment they are created as a unique person is established in the premiere laws of the land as well as in contemporary science. House Bill 704 neither bestows nor confers personhood. Personhood is not ours to grant. We can only acknowledge or ignore the plain truth. The operational word in the Personhood Act is “recognize.”
“The state of Ohio shall recognize the personhood, and protect the constitutional rights, of all unborn human individuals from the moment of conception.”