The First Personhood Amendments
Roe v. Wade was the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning a Texas anti-abortion law, which had the effect of legalizing abortion throughout the United States. Several Human Life Amendments (aka Personhood Amendments) were drafted and proposed in Congress in the early 1970s. One main version1 became popular in the early 70s with two other popular versions, the Paramount1 and the Unity Human Life Amendment1 being drafted over the next decade. The target of these amendments were the United States Constitution. (view early amendments)
The beginning of the modern Pro-Life Movement we know today was started in the early 1980s and gained a great ally in President Ronald Reagan (see Reagan’s Personhood Proclamation). During this time the main focus of the Pro-Life Movement was the passage of a FederalPersonhood Amendment to the U.S Constitution. It was common knowledge that the Federal Personhood Amendment was the key to overturning Roe v. Wade and abortion in America. The reason is that once you legally recognize unborn children as persons they have rights. A Right to Life has more weight than a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions (i.e. to have an Abortion, which is how the courts view it).
Because this was so important, the Pro-Life Movement lobbied every person running for Congress and in other top leadership positions around the country to make a public stand in support of the Federal Human Life Amendment.
Over the years more than 330 different proposals being called a Human Life Amendment have been introduced in Congress. In over 30 years not one Human Life Amendment has gotten anywhere. The end of the Federal Personhood Movement was over.
The Federal Personhood Amendment
The Death of a Vision
Unfortunately, since the 1980s the Federal Personhood Amendment was dropped as a viable project by the Pro-Life Movement due to the difficulty in getting it passed through a very diverse and partisan Congress. The Pro-Life Movement, disheartened, took up projects not to overturn Roe and abortion but to only scale back abortion as much as they could legally through state and federal legislation. The Pro-Life Movement, for the most part, had given up on overturning Roe v. Wade. It was now only spoken of as a vague ideal or a ‘long term strategy’ and left the Pro-Life Movement seeking alternative strategies. [ See Pro-Life Strategies ]