Personhood Florida and Abortion Abolition

Author’s note: I am writing this as the director of The Forerunner and president of Personhood Florida Education. This is not an “official” statement from any Personhood group. I do not speak for the national groups, Personhood USA or Personhood Alliance. That being said, I have spent countless hours speaking to the founders of both of these organizations. I believe I am representing their views accurately, although I need to emphasize that I cannot technically speak for them.

Please also see the links for The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset. This is short primer on doctrine of nullification, which has been one of the foundational tenets of Personhood movement since its beginning. You may either order copies or I have posted all the articles that make up the booklet online for free.


The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset

Jay Rogers

Revival, Resistance, Reformation, Revolution, Interposition and Nullification

In 1776, a short time after the Declaration of Independence was adopted, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were assigned to design an official seal for the United States of America. Their proposed motto was “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God”. America owes its existence to centuries of Christian political philosophy. Our nation provided a model for liberty copied by nations the world over.

By the 21st century, we need a “Puritan Storm” to sweep away the Hegelian notion that the state is “God walking on earth.” We need revival and reformation in full force to vanquish the problems that plague us as a nation — from government controlled healthcare — to abortion on demand — to same sex “marriage.” This booklet gives a primer on our founders’ Christian idea of government and examines how the doctrine of nullification was woven into the Constitution as a safeguard against federal tyranny. It concludes with the history and theology of civil resistance. A Second American Revolution is coming with the Word of God growing mightily and prevailing! (Acts 19:20).

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What is Personhood?

Personhood stands for the total abolition of abortion with no exceptions.

In fact, we should state at the outset that you cannot stand for Personhood without standing for the complete and immediate abolition of abortion. One naturally flows from the other.

Not only does Personhood embrace the idea of the immediate abolition of abortion, it goes far beyond that to include many other sanctity and dignity of life issues. Personhood advocates ought to endorse any and all bills and amendments to state constitutions that are in line with the goal of recognizing and protecting the God-given right to life of all human beings.

Two Major Objections to Personhood: Timing and Language

In the beginning of the founding of Personhood Florida, we were told by Personhood USA co-founder, Cal Zastrow, that we would hear two common arguments against Personhood coming from other pro-life groups.

1. “We don’t think the timing is right for this.”
2. “We don’t like your initiative language.”

In other words, all national, state and local pro-life organizations will say they want to end all abortion. But their strategy to end all abortion is different from ours. The first objection can be handled by asking when would be a good time to end all child murder. If the organization is not currently working a plan to end all abortion, then it begs the question as to why they are not doing so. Many believe that their goal ought to be to overturn Roe v. Wade first and only then work state-by-state toward a Human Life Amendment. I’ll show below why that is not Personhood’s strategy, although we would agree with seeing Roe overturned.

The second objection can be handled by asking what language have they proposed that would end all abortion with no exceptions or compromise. If they have such a plan, then we will support it. We support all such no compromise initiatives. We will not oppose any bill, citizen’s initiative or legal strategy that would end all abortion. But in nearly all cases, they have no such proposed legislation.

Foundational Principles of Personhood

The following propositions represent some foundational principles taught to us by Cal Zastrow, co-founder of Personhood USA; Daniel Becker, founder of Personhood Alliance; as well as other state Personhood affiliate leaders. The founding board members of Personhood Florida have held to these principles for many years, even prior to the Personhood movement gaining steam in 2008.

1. Personhood seeks to ignore Roe v. Wade — not reverse it

Some believe that the Personhood strategy was formulated as a result of the terms “person” and “personhood” being used by Justice Harry Andrew Blackmun in section 9 of his opinion in Roe v. Wade. This is incorrect. Although we would welcome the overturning of Roe, this is not a foundational principle of our strategy to legally end abortion.

In the words of Cal Zastrow, one of the founders of the Personhood movement, the goal has always been to encourage the states to “ignore Roe.” Here I quote Cal Zastrow in a recent on-line conversation on the topic. I have edited his response for length and clarity.

Judie Brown [American Life League] was involved in the first Personhood efforts since the 1970s. The first ballot-access petition drive for a Personhood Amendment was in Michigan in 2005. We went to pro-life groups, churches, political groups, and politicians with these three questions:

1. Do you have a plan to stop all baby-murdering without exceptions or delays?

2. What is your plan?

3. How can we assist you with that plan?

Nobody had a plan, so we started with: “The term ‘person’ in Article 2, Section 16 of the Constitution of the State of Michigan shall be defined as a human being beginning at fertilization” – one sentence.

On our website, we called for immediatism; no exceptions; justice via having the laws against murder include the preborn, abortifacient contraceptives, IVF, etc. We also called for using gruesome pictures of murdered pre-natal babies; preaching the Gospel; advocating the need for Michigan to ignore Roe v. Wade and just stop the murdering now. We didn’t get enough signatures for ballot access, but folks in other states called and asked for help, so my family and I did so.

After we gained ballot-access in Colorado a year later, one other person and I started a national Personhood group. We got amendments and bills introduced in state legislatures while starting ballot-access petition drives, including two more successful ones within a couple of years….

Personhood began nationally and in Florida by calling upon states to ignore Roe. The Personhood movement did not begin defining “person” because of Roe v. Wade. We defined it because the federal Constitution says, “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” We went on to define that as “human beings, made in the image of God.” I understand, painfully, that not all groups are using our definition now, but some of us still hold to original usage and intent. I understand that some folks nowadays who use “Personhood” won’t use “murder” and no longer use “made in the image of God,” but some of us still do. (I actually use “murder” instead of the word “abortion.”)

To reiterate the above with greater specifics, the Personhood strategy is the extension of what was laid down in the 1970s with Human Life Amendment efforts by some pro-life organizations and politicians. Several versions of a Human Life Amendment were filed in 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1980 following the Roe v. Wade decision.

Personhood made use of some of the same language in the national constitutional amendment proposals. The choice of words was not a reactionary strategy to respond to Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion. Every state Personhood Amendment was based on the language of the earlier national amendment language, such as the Hogan and Burke Amendments.

The Hogan Amendment

Introduced by Rep. Lawrence Hogan (R-MD) on January 30, 1973
Section 1. Neither the United States nor any State shall deprive any human being, from the moment of conception, of life without due process of law; nor deny to any human being, from the moment of conception, within its jurisdiction, the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Neither the United States nor any State shall deprive any human being of life on account of illness, age, or incapacity.
Section 3. Congress and the several States shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The Burke Amendment

Introduced by James Burke (D-MA) on September 12, 1973
Section 1. With respect to the right to life, the word ‘person,’ as used in this article and in the fifth and fourteenth articles of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, applies to all human beings, including their unborn offspring at every stage of their biological development, irrespective of age, health, function, or condition of dependency.

After many years without a hearing for a Human Life Amendment at the federal level, Cal Zastrow introduced a Personhood amendment at the state level in Michigan in 2005. The word “Person” rather than “human being” was chosen for state amendments because every single state constitution without exception speaks of “Persons” or “Natural Persons” having the right to life and liberty. The name “Personhood Amendment” was also chosen to avoid confusion with the national “Human Life Amendment.”

Following a meeting with Dan Becker of Georgia Right to Life, who had been using a similar “no exceptions” strategy since the 1980s, Cal Zastrow and Keith Mason went on to found Personhood USA in 2008. Colorado, Mississippi and North Dakota have voted on citizens initiatives and many more citizens initiatives and amendments have been proposed in other states.

Although no Personhood initiative has ever garnered more than 43 percent of the vote in any of the states where this has been tried, we do not see this as a defeat in that it has sparked a paradigm shift in the pro-life movement. More activists and organizations are moving from a strategy in which they “chip away at Roe with incremental laws” to a strategy in which the Personhood of all human beings is recognized and protected by love and by law.

One fact that many Personhood advocates have cited correctly is that when Roe was decided, the writer of the majority opinion, Harry Blackmun, did state that since a Person has the right to life under the U.S. Constitution, then if the Personhood of a preborn child were established law, then Roe’s case would have collapsed.

If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment (Justice Harry Blackmun, Roe v. Wade).

The fact that Blackmun spoke of the weakness in Roe’s argument was correct. However, it does not mean that the Supreme Court can nullify God-given human rights any more than the Third Reich could actually redefine a human being as a “non-Jewish Aryan.” The state governors and legislatures never needed to submit to that. It has long been understood that fundamental human rights stated in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Amendments cannot be reversed by a court decision.

Of course, we would welcome any challenge that might result in the overturning of Roe. However, from the beginning of Personhood Florida in 2009, we have always said that we want the states to use the 5th, 10th and 14th amendments and the doctrine of nullification to counter the Supreme Court.

We do not want to overturn Roe v. Wade. We want to ignore it.

2. Personhood stands for the doctrine of nullification

The best chance Personhood has for success is through the doctrine of nullification, that is, state legislators and governors would declare that abortion is already covered under the state’s murder statutes on the basis of the Personhood of the unborn – and then act on that declaration.

Not only do we agree with the strategy of nullification, but as I will show, the Personhood movement was founded on this premise. Furthermore, many of us involved in promoting Personhood initiatives have been advocating the strategy of using state nullification of federal tyranny for 10, 20 and even 30 years.

We must not look to the Supreme Court as the arbiter of “establishing” who is a person. The view of the founders of Personhood is that this is an eternal truth established by God. The right to life is also written as a “self-evident” truth in the Declaration of Independence and repeated several times in the U.S. Constitution. The humanity of the preborn was also recognized by numerous case laws prior to Roe. This case was decided in error and the states never needed to change their laws in subservience to an activist court that has no authority to make laws.

This is evidenced in the rhetoric of some of the most recent Personhood bills now being advanced in several states. One of the strongest Personhood advocates in the state of Alabama, Samuel J. McLure, has launched an initiative called, Proposal 16. Their website proclaims that the states have the power to nullify Roe.

Did you know that every governor since Roe v. Wade has had the power and obligation to defend innocent human life in Alabama and prevent the murder of Alabama babies? Governors haven’t stepped in, either because they aren’t pro-life or they fear physical or economic reprisal from the Federal government. No more.

Just like former president Obama refused to enforce federal marijuana laws, we believe President Trump will hold back his hand from enforcing the unjust federal abortion rulings in the States.

Now is the time to send the faulty premises of Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history, end the barbarous practice of abortion, allow women to be the mamas their babies need, and give every human being their God-given and constitutional right to life (

This is exactly the philosophy Personhood has been promoting for years. Judicial supremacy is a myth and courts cannot nullify God-given rights long ago recognized by our laws.

We asked Alaska Right to Life (a.k.a. Personhood Alaska) director, Christopher Kurka, to comment on the doctrine of nullification.

As you know, I have always advocated for state nullification and interposition for Personhood efforts. I first learned about the myth of judicial supremacy, nullification and interposition from Bob Bird (former AKRTL President) during his 2008 campaign for US Senate. Since then I have pushed the ideas, but have never written on them before.

The book by Personhood Alliance, Personhood: The Tree of Life, has a chapter entitled “The Myth of Judicial Supremacy” by Christopher Kurka that deals with the idea of nullification and interposition by the states. The editor of the book, Dan Becker, has stated on numerous occasions that he has advocated for nullification since 1988 as an alternative to overturning Roe.

Dan Becker’s previous book, Personhood, discusses nullification as part of our strategy and denies that the sole reason for the purpose of the Personhood movement is to challenge Roe.

To return the right to ban abortion at a state level would require the reversal or nullification of the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade [emphasis mine]…. Government cannot be allowed the prerogative of claiming to define a right that has never been within its rightful jurisdiction. The right to life comes from God, not government. Personhood is the human rights movement of the 21st century, not an attorney’s playground” (Dan Becker, Personhood, 33,34).

Personhood has always stood for the nullification by the states if overturning Roe is not possible. It is not an either/or proposition. Personhood is a human rights issue. We do not believe that the states must bow down to the Supreme Court as vassals to a feudal overlord. Regardless of whether Roe can be overturned, nullification is a right guaranteed to the states under the United States Constitution.

Les Riley, the director of another state Personhood affiliate, also testifies to the early promotion of the nullification doctrine by Personhood Mississippi, one of the first states to launch a petition effort.

I advocated for ignoring Roe, challenging judicial supremacy and calling on state and local magistrates to interpose – including arresting abortionists and defying not only usurpations by the federal judiciary, but also by legislative and executive branches, up to and including secession over this issue. I was an advocate for this in word and in published articles, public speeches, sermons as early as 1992, and in lobbying and campaigning as early as 1995.

This very matter, in fact, was foundational to Personhood Mississippi and was the subject of literature, articles featured on our web site, speeches, media interviews, public meetings and private strategy sessions from the very beginning – through the petition drive and campaign – and beyond the vote on the Mississippi Personhood Amendment. Calling the pro-life industry out, calling the church and the civil magistrate to repentance, obedience, keeping their oath of office (civil magistrates) and engaging the death culture with the Gospel was completely and overtly integrated into our efforts.

For more information on the principles of interposition and nullification, I have written a short booklet entitled, The United States of America 2.0: The Great Reset. The booklet may be read on-line for free. Again, this is not a new idea for me, but I wrote the bulk of the material that makes up the book over 20 years ago.

We have also frequently used the example of the Dred Scott v. Sandford Supreme Court decision, which stated in 1957 that a black slave was property and did not have the same right to liberty as an American citizen. Ironically, Dred Scott was never overturned by the Supreme Court. It took a United States’ constitutional amendment to reverse the Dred Scott decision. However, Christians should never say that a court decision or a constitutional amendment was the basis for the right to the liberty of all the people born in America. The right to life and liberty is a God-given right. And on that basis, states have the right to nullify Roe.

We will never stop until our courts or legislatures have reversed or nullified [emphasis mine] this misguided ruling. We do not fear a negative ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. Historically, a bad ruling has in fact served as the very catalyst for change in public policy. Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1858, ruled that a black person could not be a citizen under our law…. This adverse ruling did much to fuel to the abolitionist movement; our country engaged in civil war before the law recognized the full Personhood of Blacks. In point of fact, the ruling per se was never reversed. By the same token, we shouldn’t wait on an overturning of Roe v. Wade before engaging in public dialogue. The need for Personhood policy is now, regardless of Roe’s final disposition! Ours is a 21st century human rights movement and must not be summarized by a single legal objective! (Dan Becker, Personhood, 76,77).

Personhood has always used the abolition of slavery argument and the corresponding denial of the citizenship (i.e., legal Personhood) of black slaves in the Dred Scott decision as analogous to the Personhood debate. We do not believe that the Supreme Court has the power to decide what is a moral right. Moral rights are based on laws given by God alone as Creation ordinances.

The ultimate problem at the time of Roe v. Wade was not the courts, but the liberal (and even some “conservative”) churches that already supported some forms of abortion. If they had been united in opposition against abortion, Roe could have been resisted. From the beginning of the Roe decision, each pro-life group in America has agreed that the ultimate goal is to pass a national Human Life Amendment. If that was not immediately possible, the strategy was to go state-by-state to pass laws and ratify amendments to the state constitutions.

In short, the overturning of Roe as a result of the challenge of a state Personhood Amendment is not the foundational strategy of Personhood. Our primary strategy is to change the culture by getting the majority of our states’ citizens to agree that the God-given right to life of all human beings at any

3. The term “Personhood” represents the “Imago Dei”

In many of the current Personhood initiatives, the term, “human being,” is used as an accurate expression of the truth that we are made in the image of God.

It has always been understood in constitutional law that the terms, “persons,” “natural persons,” “human beings” and “men” are exactly synonymous. We must not become guilty of the fallacy of making a distinction without a difference. The important truth here is that we are each made in the image of God. Therefore, the right to life and liberty is inviolable without due process of just laws.

The new book, Personhood: The Tree of Life, edited by Dan Becker of Personhood Alliance, does a good job in establishing the biblical definition and basis for Personhood. In summary, the idea of the Personhood of all human beings is bound up in the idea that God created man in His own image. God is three “Persons” – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in “One God.” This is the doctrine of the Trinity. The way in which God has relationship with man is through the Persons of the Trinity. We are each created in the image of God from the moment of conception – not only as members of the species Homo sapiens – but as a special creation – a unique person made in the image of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. When we experience salvation, we are adopted as children of the Father, the First Person of the Trinity. We are born-again because the Person of the indwelling of Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity. That is why human beings have a special place in creation and may not be wantonly killed with impunity.

It is also insufficient to argue that human beings as a member of the species, Homo sapiens, have the right to life unless we first recognize that human beings are made in God’s own image. Whether they are “persons,” “humans” or “men,” we still need to begin with the idea of the imago Dei.

Although we believe it is useful to use the word, “Person,” due to existing constitutional language, for several years, the Personhood Florida Amendment has used the following language.

The God-given right to life of every human being at any stage of development shall be recognized and protected. This provision shall be deemed to supersede any other inconsistent provisions [emphasis mine].

The second clause refers to the fact that our own liberal activist Florida Supreme Court has found a “right to abortion” in the Florida state constitution (where none exists). Although this was decided in error, it should not be ignored in subsequent constitutional language. The Personhood Florida amendment would nullify this decision.

In short, we use the both the terms “human being” and “person” because the two are synonyms. We appeal to the authority of God’s Law rather than the Supreme Court. The Florida Personhood amendment states that there is a “God-given right to life.” Although this language is already in our state constitution, ours would be the first amendment to reiterate the name of God in our defense of the preborn and all human beings at any stage of development.

4: The biblical “right to life” is God-given

The word “rights” in civil law has always been synonymous with the word “liberties.” Prior to the United States Bill of Rights (1791) was the English Bill of Rights and Liberties (1689). There was also a document called the Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641). Both of these documents, together with several others, were the basis for the language contained in the United States’ Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The English Bill of Rights and Liberties always uses the two terms together. The Massachusetts Body of Liberties only uses the term “liberties,” but it was understood that “rights and liberties,” were synonymous. Of course, the term liberty is an often-used biblical word that describes both civil liberty and the freedom we have in Christ.

In addition, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties is a good example of how legal prohibitions against infringing on human rights are based on God-given laws contained in the Bible. After listing over 90 “liberties,” the document lists the commandments of Scripture – as the basis of the sanctions of the civil law that punish crime.

However, these negative sanctions of God’s law are based on the positive commandments God had given from the beginning. These positive laws are otherwise known as the “Creation ordinances” that existed prior to the time that sin entered the world. Murder is prohibited because God made man in His own image (Genesis 1:27; 9:6). Adultery and sexual immorality are prohibited because God ordained marriage from the beginning as one man and one woman (Genesis 2:21-24; Matthew 19:5,6). Theft is prohibited because God from the beginning commanded men as individuals to take dominion of the earth (Genesis 1:28: 9:1; Psalms 8:6), to own and care for the earth and to obtain personal wealth (Genesis 2:5,8; Deuteronomy 8:18). Thus all the negative sanctions of the law flow from the liberties and positive commandments of God that He gave even prior to sin entering the world in the Creation ordinances.

The application of the law prohibiting murder can be applied to abortion because God made man in His image and each of us has the right to life regardless of the stage of development or circumstances of our conception. Among all created beings subject to the law of sin and death, only human beings possess “personhood” because only human beings were created in the image of God. So while the law of God prohibits abuse of His creation, cruelty to animals, the waste of natural resources, etc., the law prohibiting murder applies only to judicially innocent human beings.

We cannot have a negative without a positive. We do not have any basis on which to say child murder; the violation of the dignity of human life; same-sex marriage; perverse sexuality; etc. is criminal unless we first value all life as made in God’s image. This was a creation ordinance. It is only when we change our cultural morality to respect the dignity and sanctity of all life will abortion become unthinkable. And only then will it be considered criminal by our judges and lawmakers – although it is already criminal in the sight of God.

All the laws pertaining to these human rights and liberties can be summed up in one term: Personhood.

To summarize, the “right to life” has a solid biblical basis and is perfectly suitable as a description of Christian ethics on abortion and all sanctity and dignity of life issues.

5: There is no such thing as a “magic bullet”

Another idea that needs to be addressed is what some of us call the “magic bullet” fallacy. I have heard people say when presenting Personhood that if we pass an amendment recognizing and protecting all human life, that this will automatically end all abortion.

To quote Personhood USA founder Keith Mason, “That would not be the end of our battle, but a beginning of a new war on all fronts.”

First, a Personhood Amendment would need to be backed up by legislation. Even a constitutional amendment that states all abortion is murder needs corresponding legislation that would either repeal state abortion laws that include exceptions and affirm the criminality of abortion using the same criteria as that for homicide and murder.

Second, passing a Personhood Amendment in one state would necessitate passing identical measures in other states. Ultimately, we would need a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution to protect life in all 50 states. That has always been the goal of the pro-life movement. The difference with Personhood advocates and other pro-life groups is that we have a plan to succeed in at least 38 states by passing a state Personhood Amendment with similar or identical language that would then become the model for a national Human Life Amendment. To ratify such an Amendment would require at least 38 states would have to pass it through their legislatures. The goal of Personhood is not to overturn Roe, but to eventually ratify a Human Life Amendment to the United States Constitution that could not be nullified by any liberal abortion law or court decision.

To win the war, we do not need to overturn Roe. As in the case when Dred Scott was nullified by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, we only need to nullify Roe with a national amendment and in the meantime we can nullify it at the state level. However, we cannot be naïve and assume that Christians are ready to support this at the moment. A great work of education and a great degree of unity toward this cause needs to be achieved first. We have made this one of the primary goals of Personhood.

The Position of Personhood Florida on the “Florida Abolish Abortion” Amendment

I was recently asked about Personhood Florida’s position on various “abortion abolition” initiatives and bills in several states throughout the country. Our policy in Personhood Florida is that we endorse bills, initiatives and measures that would defend life without exceptions. Therefore, we support the language of the Florida Abolish Abortion amendment as well as all similar measures throughout the country. In fact, I would go as far as to say that you cannot say you are really for Personhood if you oppose such measures. These measures and bills obviously do not need to originate with Personhood groups in order for us to support them.

Of course, we would prefer that people would work together with us on one citizens initiative — the Personhood Amendment — and we have devoted our efforts and resources to that. The policy that we have adopted is that we will share data and resources with any organization that comes alongside us and helps with Personhood petitioning.

The only caveat is that we believe that the Florida Abolish Abortion Amendment ought to go further than it does. It addresses the “abortion” of “unborn human beings,” which is good. However, it is silent on other right to life and dignity of life issues. We believe that the Personhood Amendment would do more to recognize and protect the sanctity and dignity of life of all human beings. The Personhood Amendment would address ethical concerns related to end of life issues, emerging bio-technologies, eugenics, cloning, stem cell research, human animal hybrids, ectogenesis (artificial wombs), artificial intelligence, “Personhood rights” for animals, and so on. Therefore, people who want to address these issues should work together to accomplish that.

On the other hand, seeing the great work that is to be done to transform the culture of our state to one that would defend the life of all human beings, we welcome having as many initiatives as people have the energy to try to accomplish. All initiatives are educational, evangelistic and missionary opportunities for those willing to work in the field gathering signatures. As we do this, we must understand that our primary work is to change hearts and minds.

Another possible issue with the constitutionality of the Florida Abolish Abortion amendment is that it imposes criminal sanctions on abortion through constitutional language. While we should obviously support criminal penalties for abortion since it is child murder, it is well-known that constitutional law gives state and federal legislatures the authority to legislate and impose sanctions. In the hundreds of pages comprising the Florida constitutional amendments, there is not one amendment that criminalizes anything. It is understood that the legislature must pass corresponding legislation to uphold constitutional law and repeal laws that are unconstitutional. This includes criminalizing illegal acts in compliance with our state constitution.

Thus the “magic bullet” fallacy applies here too. Any amendment to the Florida Constitution would need to be backed up with legislation originating in the house and senate, and signed by the governor of the state of Florida. An amendment may direct these bodies to pass punitive laws.

We were told by our constitutional lawyer, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, whose organization of constitutional law experts helped us pen the current Personhood Florida Amendment language.

The Florida Constitution does not specify a specific criminal punishment for a specific provision. It does authorize the death penalty, but the legislature is the one to assign the death penalty to a specific crime. It does prohibit certain penalties, such as no imprisonment for a debt or that minors may be considered delinquent instead of found guilty of committing a crime. There is nothing to say that the Constitution cannot include a penalty for a violation. Including a penalty does make it unique to the Florida Constitution.

In short, while there is not necessarily anything that would prohibit criminalizing abortion by constitutional amendment, as the Florida Abolish Abortion initiative attempts to do, there is no precedent for it either. Normally, the language of an amendment directs the legislature to enact laws consistent with the amendment.

The last point to be made is that the Personhood Amendment would be different from all human rights amendments in the history of the Florida Constitution in that it is God-centered. It includes language stating that the right to life of all human beings is “God-given.” This is the same language used in the preamble to our Florida Constitution’s declaration of rights, but is sadly ignored by every single other amendment dealing with human rights. This includes the proposed Florida Abolish Abortion initiative.

Why Personhood?

The best answer to this question that I have heard comes from Michele Herzog, of Pro-life Action Ministries of Central Florida, a friend and long-time advocate for life since the mid-1980s here in Florida and other states.

When Personhood is restored by love and by law to the preborn human being, the preborn will be recognized as a human being and will therefore have the same protection as the born. Thus it would be a crime to harm the preborn. It is all about recognizing and protecting the God-given right to life of all human beings at any stage of development. It is the only hope and way for freedom for the unborn. Abortion will be abolished when Personhood is recognized.

The Personhood Paradigm represents a shift in the pro-life movement toward a Christ-centered, full-orbed Gospel message that includes no exceptions and no compromise. Our goal is to recognize and protect the God-given right to life of all human beings.

It is hoped also that proponents of Personhood reading this will better understand and communicate the goals of Personhood as we move forward to recognize and protect all human life, including abolishing abortion.

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