Although the election was a month ago, anti-Life advocates and media are still touting that the Pro-Life movement is on the decline and losing its momentum because the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi failed to pass in the November 8th election. However, Pro-Lifers should not be discouraged by Mississippi’s failure to pass the recent Personhood Amendment. The reality is that Pro-Lifers have a stronger and more politically vigilant way to challenge the abortion agenda in the United States.
The Pro-Life movement’s number one priority is to stop the 98 percent of abortions that occur out of convenience, yet personhood legislation is not the way to reach that goal right now. Personhood legislation skips many steps that are crucial to changing hearts, minds, and the legal context of abortion in Texas and the United States.
If a personhood law were to pass, its constitutionality would be challenged. The lawsuit would move up the courts and would ultimately be heard by the Supreme Court, thereby directly challenging Roe v. Wade. Having the right number of Pro-Life Supreme Court justices is essential to overturning Roe v. Wade. Currently, we do not have that number, and a decision by liberal judges would reaffirm Roe and prevent the Pro-Life position from being heard in that court for another several decades.
However, we can take a different approach by crafting legislation that will eventually yield the opportunity to successfully overturn Roe v. Wade. This means defeating abortion through a strategy called incrementalism: educating the nation and proposing, defending and passing Pro-Life laws that protect women and the unborn by regulating the dangerous abortion industry and ensuring that all women seeking abortions are fully informed concerning this life changing decision. While these laws save Lives, they also legally undermine Roe v. Wade.
For example, one of the most significant incremental approaches was informed consent information that produced the Roe-weakening court opinion Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). This crucial court case opened up the legal right for states to pass strict and detailed informed consent legislation that has a clear prejudice towards Life. Texas has capitalized on this case by enacting the Woman's Right to Know Act in 2003 and passing the Sonogram Law in 2011. Another important court cases that weakened Roe v. Wade was Gonzales v. Carhart (2007), which upheld the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban.
Until there are the right number of Anti-Roe votes in the Supreme Court, states and Pro-Life organizations have the responsibility to pass as much Pro-Life legislation that protects the unborn to the best of their ability as well as looking for opportunities to further attack the landmark decision of Roe. Legislation that seeks to immediately protect women and save unborn lives include: allowing a woman to see her unborn child on a sonogram, limiting funds to America’s largest abortion committer, Planned Parenthood, protecting 20-week and older pain-capable unborn children, and stopping coerced abortion.
The Mississippi Personhood Amendment’s failure to pass does show that as members of the Pro-Life community, there is much work to be done to transform the hearts of voters and political leaders alike through education, carefully crafted legislation, and prayer.