By Chelsey Youman
We live in a country founded on certain unalienable rights for all persons. As affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, “[w]e hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
When, in our dark history, America fell woefully short of these principles. A Civil War and over a century of reform was required to reinforce the value of personhood of all people. That work continues today.
Three years after the Civil War ended, the 14th Amendment was ratified, affirming every person has equal protection of the laws in our United States. It established that states may not deprive a person of their rights without due process. As part of Reconstruction, Black Americans could no longer lawfully be denied their human and constitutional rights.
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution affirms that states may not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.” At the time of its adoption, unborn children were recognized as persons with fundamental rights to be protected. Additionally, the Union in 1868 comprised 37 States, of which 30 prohibited abortions.
The 14th Amendment guaranteed protection from discrimination for the marginalized and most vulnerable in society. The protection is most powerful for those society marginalizes or devalues precisely because they are most susceptible to abuse and discrimination by society and state. This theory, and the need for these protections, has proven tragically true, time and time again throughout history.
History teaches us the fallacy of one set of humans dehumanizing another set of humans. We saw that before the American Civil War when Black American slaves were categorized as 3/5 human or when Nazi Germany denigrated Jews as subhuman. Every genocide in history begins the same way—the powerful define a people group as disposable and over time they are disposed of. And history repeats itself as we continue to devalue children in the womb simply because they are unborn. Society views babies as disposable and so they dispose of them. This deprivation of rights is exactly what the 14th Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses are intended to protect us from—ourselves.
From the beginning of time, preborn people have always been alive and human. They should be entitled to the same human rights as people who are born. Humanity is the great equalizer. And people should not be valued differently based on any characteristic. Our dignity is not defined by our humanity plus age, humanity plus race, humanity plus sex or development, intellect, skill, or strength. Our dignity is simply defined by our humanity. To say otherwise is discriminatory. To say otherwise always leads toward a path of destruction.
Abortion is state-sanctioned developmental discrimination. Its violence perpetuates easiest because its victims are voiceless. All the more reason this defenseless class of person requires 14th Amendment protections.
I’ve said this before—abortion is the last frontier where society accepts discrimination. State-sanctioned discrimination is legally prohibited in every facet of society except for abortion. Over the last few hundred years, we’ve irradicated major forms of discrimination, and that’s good! But abortion is the last arena where discrimination is still accepted. Abortionists kill children in the womb because of their sex, because of how they are developing, for fetal abnormalities, for race, because they are simply unwanted, or because they are not yet born. What greater deprivation of rights is there?
Roe v. Wade even acknowledged that if “the fetus is a ‘person’ within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the case for a constitutional right to abortion “collapses.”
As pro-life advocates who stand on the purpose, power, and forethought of the 14th Amendment, we seek to affirm that innocent human life deserves legal protection from violence, both before and after birth. There should be no discrimination between the born and the preborn. A human being is created at the moment of fertilization. At every point of development that person remains human and alive, and therefore, worthy of “the equal protection of the laws.”
In lockstep with dozens of other pro-life advocates across the country, Human Coalition eagerly signed the New North Star letter. www.liveaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Equal-Protection-Coalition-Letter.pdf
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was a monumental legal, moral, and spiritual victory for America, but our work is not yet done. Today, millions of preborn babies are at risk of the violent killing by abortion because the horrific act remains legal in most states. After Roe v. Wade’s rescission, the pro-life movement is ready for a new North Star to guide us in our unified efforts to protect children in the womb from the violence of abortion. The letter advocates that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution ensures children in the womb have the same protections under the law, including from homicide, as those guaranteed to born persons.
In addition, your desire to expand pro-life protections across the nation moved the Human Coalition team to painstakingly create a path forward for the preborn with the Pro-Life Model Legislation Kit. www.humancoalition.org/model-legislation-kit-2023/
Human Coalition is the only pro-life group to establish a robust state-by-state legislative plan that takes the next step beyond the New North Star letter. The unique Kit offers bill recommendations for each state to adopt both care for women and protect children in the womb.
I was excited to be a part of a monumental press conference last Friday with our wonderful allies like Students for Life and Live Action. We announced the release of the New North Star letter that emphasizes a more focused direction of the pro-life movement – ending abortion while acknowledging the personhood and equal protection for children in the womb as stated in the Constitution. Please watch a video of the press conference here: www.liveaction.org/news/pro-life-leaders-congress-equal-protection-preborn/