Saturday, July 3, 2010

Debate on Personhood

The executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, Joe Pojman, and I got into another debate as the result of a Facebook post. Here is the entire thread (to this point)...

Joe Pojman "Once again the legal personhood of the unborn child has been upheld in Texas so that our legislature can protect mothers and unborn babies from violent crimes," says Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. "Although the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade opinion forbids Texas from protecting unborn children from abortion, we believe the Prenatal Protection Act creates a foothold for someday overturning Roe."

Lauro Antonio Garza Well Done! God bless you!

Dan Hawkins The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade opinion forbids Texas from protecting unborn children from abortion only because we the people let it. When are we going to start insisting that our leaders stand against tyranny and injustice and for the inalienable right to life of ALL human beings?

Joe Pojman Dan, much as we want the Texas Legislature to provide legal protection for innocent unborn babies from the tragedy of abortion, the Legislature cannot because the US Supreme Court ties the hands of the Legislature and the Governor.

Check out pp. 2-3 of the article by noted pro-life legal scholar Paul Linton:

"More than 50 years ago, the Supreme Court, in a case involving the enforcement of the school-desegregation cases, stated that the Court’s interpretation of the United States Constitution is 'the supreme law of the land,' which is of binding effect on the states by virtue of the Supremacy Clause, art. VI, cl. 2."

Dan Hawkins So what you and Linton are saying is that we should just accept that the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution is the supreme law of the land because the Supreme Court says it is? I reject that, and our state leaders need to reject that as well. Thomas Jefferson, who I think carries much more intellectual weight than Paul Linton, once said that the Constitution is a compact between the states and that, "the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress."

Joe Pojman With all due respect to Mr. Jefferson, here's an interesting historical perspective: States may not unilaterally reject Supreme Court rulings. Like it or not, that's just not the way our United States are set up under the Constitution.

Dan Hawkins Well, I don't know who this Sanford Levinson is (the author of the American Statesman article), but given some of the opinions he expresses in the article, I just can't put much stock in what he says. For instance, he states, "I am quite bitterly critical of a number of defects in the Constitution and support a constitutional convention to correct them, but that does not change the fact, for example, that Wyoming has the same number of votes in the Senate as does California, or Vermont the same number of votes as does Texas." He completely misses the point about why Congress was split into two Houses in the Great Compromise. One House is supposed to represent the people, and that representation is based on population, etc. The other house (the Senate) is supposed to give equal representation to the States. The only constitutional defect in this arrangement is the 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, which mandated direct election of the Senators by the people of the states (thus removing any say the State governments had in the federal government, and thus making the issue of nullification and the 10th Amendment even more important).

And not only that, but the article is about nullification of Federal law, and Roe v. Wade is not a law. It is a court opinion. The judicial branch, by definition, cannot make law. If you read my blog post at, you will see that what I am proposing is legislation based on arguments made in Roe V. Wade that will both protect the right to life of all human beings and adhere to the Constitution of the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court has seized far too much power for itself, by declaring itself and its interpretation of the Constitution as the "supreme law of the land," and the other branches of government, both federal and state, have just stood by and allowed it. When you actually look at the Constitution, the Supreme Court doesn't even have authority over its own jurisdiction (Article III, Section 2 states that "In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the CONGRESS SHALL MAKE."). Unfortunately, I haven't seen Congress making any exceptions or regulations on the Supreme Court lately because they have abdicated so much power to them.

This attitude that decisions of the Supreme Corut have the effective force of a Constitutional amendment is what is wrong with so many things in our country and especially the pro-life movement. It is past time for someone in government, be it Congress, a state legislature, a governor, someone, to step up and take a stand against the Court for what is right and just. There is nothing more right and just than the abolition of legalized abortion and the protection of the right to life of preborn children.

Cathy Fountain Kerr "The Court noted that Roe v. Wade permits states to criminalize the homicide of an unborn child SO LONG AS THE LAW DOES NOT RESTRICT THE MOTHER'S RIGHT TO TERMINATE HER PREGNANCY."
Let me get this straight: a person can be prosecuted if he commits murder on an unborn child, BUT the mother can do the same thing with no penalty at all. This is such bad law that it defies credibility! You cannot have it both ways (and I fully understand what I am saying here).

When, oh when, will this finallly be brought back into the light of day and exposed for the evil that it is?

Rick Ellis This is a farce, and no prolife law at all. Any law that ends with "then you can kill the baby" is not prolife.

This issue ends or fails at personhood.

to demand anything less than full personhood for the womb child is doomed.

Joe Pojman The Texas Prenatal Protection Act recognizes the personhood of the unborn child and allows the conviction and punishment of violent crimes against unborn children. That is a very good law. Texas has a moral obligation to protect as many unborn babies as we can while educating the public about the humanity of the unborn child, and we have done so. Many criminals are now behind bars for killing unborn babies, and the public learns about the personhood of unborn babies when they read about the convictions in the press.

The obstacle to protecting unborn from abortion is that Roe v. Wade -- among the very worst decisions by the US Supreme Court -- interprets the US Constitution in a way that prevents the Prenatal Protect Act from being applied in cases of abortion. That is the terrible inconsistancy of Roe. The majority of the Supreme Court does not care about the personhood of the unborn child. The majority only cares about garanteeing a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy, even though that means terminating an unborn child who is a clearly a legal person.

People need to know about the ruthless extremism of Roe.

How do we fix it? Simple. Replace pro-abortion justices wtih pro-life nominees. How do we do that? Replace Obama with a pro-life president in two years and vote in enough US Senators to approve the nominees.

Rick Ellis You are dead wrong Mr. Pojman, as pro-life has been for far to long. A simple act of congress over turns Roe, and puts the court back between the 4 corners of the constitution. Any law that says you get to kill babies, is not Prolife. Duncan Hunter has introduced it several times, but it was not allowed out of comity.

You are spreading mis information that is deadly to womb children.

for some one who brags about their education, you sure don't seem to know much.

Dan Hawkins Dr. Pojman, with all due respect, the status quo has been in effect for 37 years, and it isn't working. You say that fixing Roe v. Wade is easy: we just have to elect a pro-life President who would then nominate pro-life Supreme Court justices. But it isn't that simple. We've already had 8 years of Ronald Reagan and another 8 years of George W. Bush. Before Obama took office, 7 of the 9 Supreme Court justices had been nominated by Republican Presidents. And yet Roe v. Wade is still firmly entrenched in the minds of government officials and inteligentsia as having the force of a constitutional amendment.

It can take years for a case to reach the Supreme Court, and meanwhile, the make up of the Court is always changing. We cannot simply wait for a more favorable Court to come into being and then try challenging Roe v. Wade with another court case. Said court case may not even make it to the Court. And in the meantime, how many more babies will be slaughtered while we take this wait and see approach?

Abolitionists in the 1850s did not sit around saying, "Well, we need to get the Dred Scot decision overturned." No, they were very pro-active. They advocated the use of state nullification against federal fugitive slave laws; they pushed for legislation that would free the slaves. And after the southern states seceeded from the Union, the top abolitionist of his day issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

What I am proposing is that our state legislature enact laws which fully recognize that life -- HUMAN life -- begins at the moment that sperm merges with that egg. This new legislation should recognize that the term "person" applies to all human beings from fertilization to natural death. The Prenatal Protection Act of 2003 was a good start, but it left a glaring uncontitutionality in the Texas Penal Code. It said that preborn babies are persons but that expectant mothers and their abortionists could murder these persons at will. The bill I am suggesting would both correct this unconstitutionality and provide full protection of the right to life of all human beings. It would shut down every abortuary in the state. And when NARAL and Planned Parenthood challenge the new law in court, our state should vigorously defend it to the bitter end.

You are for maintaining the status quo even though the status quo has resulted in the slaughter of 50 million children over the past 37 years. That's wrong. Those of us who advocate personhood laws cannot and will not accept this. How many more children will be slaughtered while pro-life organizations cringe in fear of this massive federal government and its seemingly all-powerful Supreme Court?

You say that this abdication of power to the Supreme Court is just the way it is (and you link me to articles written by people with silly ideas like calling for a new constitutional convention when what we really need is a federal government that only operates within the constraints of our present Constitution). I am glad that people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and others did not simply say, "Well, that's just the way it is..."