The Pro-Life movement needs a new strategy

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By Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin Legislative Director

The future of abortion jurisprudence in America is looking bleak for the foreseeable future. On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed the pro-life community yet another bitter loss in its June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo decision, ruling that a Louisiana state law requiring hospital admitting privileges for nearby abortionists is unconstitutional. The pro-life strategy of placing statutory regulations on the abortion industry in hopes of prompting a Roe reversal appears to have reached its limit. Chief Justice (and George W. Bush appointee) John Roberts voted with the liberal majority, contradicting his support for a virtually identical Texas law in the Hellerstedt decision four years prior. He did so on the basis of stare decisis alone and surely views Roe through the same legal lens, a decision in effect for over 47 years.

Given this failed strategy, why not pursue another? Why not make a concerted effort to pass federal personhood legislation? Ultimately, if preborn children are human beings from conception, as embryological science confirms, then they must be fully protected as persons from conception. Federal personhood legislation accomplishes this and has been introduced by Congress session after session. Both the Sanctity of Human Life Act (H.R. 305), cosponsored by Representative Glenn Grothman, and the Life at Conception Act (H.R. 616), cosponsored by Representatives Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman, Sean Duffy, and James Sensenbrenner, apply the 14th Amendment protections of “equal protection” and “due process” to all human beings from conception, thus ending all abortion without exception. Together, these bills have 186 co-sponsors, yet they languish in the House Judiciary Committee with no public hearing.

The Sanctity of Human Life Act and the Life at Conception Act are the most inclusive and consistent pro-life bills ever introduced by Congress. Establishing personhood would legally recognize the preborn child as a United States citizen at every stage of development and thus protect him or her against any physical harm, such as from surgical abortion, chemical abortion, embryo destructive research, research cloning, or any other violent attack. Put simply, the Sanctity of Human Life Act and the Life at Conception Act would protect every preborn human being from his or her beginning without exception.

To be sure, Congress and the President have the constitutional authority to end abortion today. Congress could pass federal personhood legislation – with a provision that excludes the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction over abortion or other harm to preborn human life. This is allowed by Congress under Article III, Section II of the U.S. Constitution. Yet Congress refuses to act. The bills are introduced but they never receive a committee hearing or vote, regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats are in control. But if all pro-life organizations collectively demand swift action on this legislation, and base their political endorsements on it, it will get done quickly should Republicans retain the Presidency and Senate and retake the House.

Senator Goldwater once said: Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Even more importantly, he followed by saying: And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. We can no longer only stand in the middle of the road. We can’t regulate abortion to death. Regulation certainly has its place, and saves lives, but if that’s all we ever do, that’s all we’re ever going to get. At Pro-Life Wisconsin, we like to say, “We’re in it to end it.” While we work to restrict abortion, we must simultaneously pursue personhood. Personhood must be our legal end game.

Our preborn brothers and sisters deserve total and permanent legal protection of their right to life. As God’s image bearers, preborn children from the moment of conception have intrinsic worth, inestimable value, and inviolable dignity. Now is the time to demand that the personhood of each preborn child be enshrined in federal law. Only when our nation protects preborn children as persons will we see an end to the scandal of legal abortion.