As various polls and election results demonstrate, some issues are losers for Republicans. M. Simon emailed me a link to an issue which I have discussed before, and which I think may be the biggest loser of them all: the so-called “personhood” issue. Some of the less pragmatic people in the Right to Life movement want all fertilized human eggs to become persons in the fullest legal sense of the term, with entitlement to all the constitutional rights traditionally accorded only to actual living, breathing citizens.  Unfortunately for them, the vast majority of Americans (including many of those who are against abortion) simply do not believe that a fertilized egg is a person. It goes against basic common sense, and as I have said too many times, insisting that a human egg is a person is about as logical as insisting an egg is a chicken or a seed is a tree.

And while a “Personhood” amendment couldn’t even pass approval of the voters in Mississippi, that has not stopped these folks (which include Rand Paul) from pushing personhood legislation in Congress. The idea is to amend the 14th Amendment by redefining the word “person”:

A Life at Conception Act – as introduced by Congressman Duncan Hunter (H.R. 618) – is legislation that, quite simply, would declare the unborn to be “persons” under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, and therefore entitled to the right to life guaranteed therein. The 14th Amendment states:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The proponents are leaving out a critical portion of the 14th Amendment right there.

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Got that? In order to come within the scope of 14th Amendment protections, you actually have to be born. No matter what the proponents say (or what anyone’s position is on “personhood”) Congress cannot simply rewrite the 14th Amendment that way. Even if fertilized eggs are persons, because they have not been born, they simply are not citizens under the 14th Amendment.

Frankly, I’m surprised at Rand Paul. I thought he was a brighter bulb than that, at least on matters pertaining to the Constitution.

I guess I was wrong, for the language in his bill reveals a clear intent to (illegally, imo) amend the 14th Amendment and disregard the plain language of its first sentence.

 

S. 91

 

To implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.

[…]

SEC. 2. RIGHT TO LIFE.

To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of the Congress, including Congress’ power under article I, section 8, to make necessary and proper laws, and Congress’ power under section 5 of the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

For purposes of this Act:

(1) HUMAN PERSON; HUMAN BEING- The terms ‘human person’ and ‘human being’ include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including, but not limited to, the moment of fertilization, cloning, and other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

For starters, it says that “the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being,” without limitation to United States citizens. Does that mean all human beings in the world have 14th Amendment equal protection under the United States Constitution? I’m thinking that maybe that was an oversight, but who knows?

I’m especially fascinated by the legal implications for zygotes. Will “conception certificates” be replacing birth certificates? And suppose a non-citizen woman conceives while traveling in the United States. If her fertilized egg develops into a fetus and her baby is born in another country, wouldn’t it retain United States citizenship which it acquired by conception?

More than half of all fertilized eggs are aborted naturally, by the way. How will we ever be able to know who they were for statistical purposes? How would we determine the cause of death? Would they be entitled to death certificates? And how about criminal investigations? Might the mother have been somehow culpable by not taking better care of herself during the implantation phase?

I’m also frustrated by the idea of certain “citizens” being uniquely capable of “living” indefinitely in liquid nitrogen. What this means is that not only do some citizens already have what the rest of us can only dream of — the prospect of eternal life — but if Rand Paul’s goofy bill passes and is signed by President Obama they will have a fully protected constitutional right to eternal life. (Assuming they are never allowed to be born, that is. No, wait… There is no right to be born, is there?)

Are these Republicans serious?