The Myth of “Personhood”

Legislators in nine states are making heavy-handed moves to ban abortion and strip women of their basic human rights by introducing so-called “Personhood” bills.

 These bills are designed to get fertilized eggs, zygotes, embryos, and fetuses legally recognized as “persons,” that will have every protection offered under the U.S. Constitution, including the right to life from the point of conception.

Once passed, “Personhood” laws will strip women of their rights to make their own medical decisions about which method of contraception they choose; how their miscarriages are managed; how and if they can access fertility treatment (in vitro fertilization would likely be banned); when their life-threatening pregnancy complications can be treated; and, of course, if they will have access to safe and legal abortions.


When the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973, effectively making abortion the law of the land, Justice Harry Blackmun noted in the court’s majority opinion: “If this suggestion of personhood is established, [Roe’s] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

And so, establishing “Personhood” as a way to ban abortions has been the anti-choice movement’s goal on both state and federal levels ever since. So far, no “Personhood” legislation has passed. But, we cannot be asleep at the polls. Proponents of “Personhood” are persistent. They will keep tweaking and reintroducing their bills until they become law or presenting ballot initiatives for voters to approve. In fact, During the 2018 mid-term elections, Alabama voters approved a constitutional amendment that gives a fetus the same rights as an actual person. In further injury to women’s reproductive rights, the approved ballot measure - which makes no exceptions for incest, rape or life of the mother - also states Alabama “does not protect the right to abortionor require the funding of abortion.” (Other states previously passed similar amendments, but Alabama’s restrictions are broader.) That is why you have to vote for candidates and incumbents  - at all levels of government – who will protect women’s rights.

And, now that you’ve informed yourself about this very important issue, download our Personhood infographic and share it across social media to educate your friends.