Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Persons Under the Law

I'm certainly no expert on Missouri state law. But in the course of a discussion about a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution, I discovered that Missouri already has a similar statement:

Life begins at conception--unborn child, defined--failure to provide prenatal care, no cause of action for.
1.205. 1. The general assembly of this state finds that:
(1) The life of each human being begins at conception;
(2) Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being;
(3) The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child.
2. Effective January 1, 1988, the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development, all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state, subject only to the Constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court and specific provisions to the contrary in the statutes and constitution of this state.
3. As used in this section, the term "unborn children" or "unborn child" shall include all unborn child or children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.
4. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.

If the Colorado "Personhood" Amendment passes, it will be interpreted by the courts as simply a statement of "values," and not anything that could possibly interfere in any legal way with the "rights" created by Roe v. Wade. This was the conclusion of the Supreme Court in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, in which William L. Webster, Attorney General of Missouri, attempted to defend Missouri's statement of the "personhood" of the unborn.

Technically, Webster won.
Technically, partial-birth abortions have been banned.
Technically, no lives have been saved.

Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of issues analysis at Focus on the Family, quoted in the Washington Post article above,

said the organization supports efforts to ban abortion, but not the Colorado strategy. "In our view, you don't have to have a personhood amendment before the court to overturn Roe v. Wade. You just need the right court. So we are more interested in the makeup of the court than what particular challenge comes before the court," she said.

This is technically true. ANY case could be used by a pro-life court to overturn Roe v. Wade. So it does indeed depend on who is on the court.

So far, unfortunately, Focus on the Family has been unable to distinguish between pro-life and anti-life justices, as indicated in their support of the pro-abortion appellate judge Samuel Alito.

But they are correct to be interested in the makeup of the court. As long as nine pro-abortion judges make this nation's laws, state constitution amendments will not save any lives. Not even Colorado's.

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