New Case Gives Court Opportunity to Declare Personhood of the Unborn

With Roe v. Wade dead and gone, the next big battle is developing for those who oppose the wanton destruction of the unborn: acknowledging their humanity.

It’s because the Dobbs decision that struck down Roe, while an advance from the old precedent’s claim that there was a right to abortion in the Constitution, simply left the unborn unrecognized.

It is a report in CourthouseNews that said the fight already is pending before the Supreme Court.

“Catholics for Life and two pregnant people filing on behalf of their fetuses are asking the court to reevaluate who, in light of the justices’ June ruling, is covered under the 14th Amendment. Their petition asks if fetuses are entitled to due process and equal protection rights in the Constitution,” the report explained.

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Diane Messere Maggee, a lawyer, said in the petition, “As this Court held in Dobbs, abortion laws are different from all others. Do unborn human beings, at any gestational age, have any rights under the United States Constitution? Or, has Dobbs relegated all unborn human beings to the status of persona non grata in the eyes of the United States Constitution — below corporations and other fictitious entities? No state court or legislature can answer this question. Only this Court can — as the final arbiter of what the United States Constitution means.”

The argument already has been presented to the American public for years: that the unborn should be recognized with personhood, qualifying them for protection like all other Americans under the Constitution.

The report explained the idea of personhood already has been used successfully in fights that do not involve abortion.

For example, Brown v. Board of Education that found racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional and recognized the personhood of nonwhites. United States v. Virginia that male-only admissions to Virginia Military Institute were unconstitutional recognized the personhood rights of women.

Actually, Roe, from 1973, said the unborn did not have personhood rights, and Dobbs has thrown that out.

One analyst said the Dobbs decision simply moved that argument from the national level to the states.

“What this new petition before the court signifies is the thought from some that the court should not have turned this question back to the states and instead should answer it themselves,” CourthouseNews said.

The report explained the case resulted from a Rhode Island state law adopting Roe as a standard.

The case challenging it was dismissed at the state court level by justices who claimed the unborn do not have the standing to bring the case.

With Dobbs precedent, that is no longer necessarily true.

The petition, according to CourthouseNews, charges, “This Court’s Dobbs holding, that ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ and its further overruling of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey surely signal rejection of this Court’s statement in Roe that, ‘[t]he word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.’ The Fourteenth Amendment has no textual definition of the term ‘any person’ therein. And it neither includes nor excludes unborn human beings specifically.”

Morgan Marietta, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, told CourthouseNews, that the status of the rights of the unborn “is a deeply disputed fact in American culture and politics right now, and even the words that you use indicate which of the possible facts you think are true.”

Marietta noted Justice Samuel Alito, in writing the Dobbs precedent, used “unborn” several times.


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