Personhood USA

Personhood USA Decries 'Paternalistic Government,' Calls For Conversions To Christianity

The director of Personhood USA writes in USA Today this morning that Mississippi voters should back his group’s far-reaching “personhood” law in order to put the brakes on big government and decries the fact that “the American people are being treated paternalistically by a government, media and public sector elite that stands in direct opposition to our traditional American values.” That’s right, the personhood law which would criminalize abortion, common forms of birth control, stem-cell research, in-vitro fertilization and the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, says Gualberto Garcia Jones, is actually a way to curtail the size of government because it seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade:

Increasingly, the American people are being treated paternalistically by a government, media and public sector elite that stands in direct opposition to our traditional American values. Using the courts as its instrument, this American elite has emasculated a once independent America.

The Constitution, a document written to prevent tyranny, has, as Thomas Jefferson predicted, become "a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist, and shape into any form they please."

No greater example exists of this abuse of raw judicial power than Roe v. Wade, a decision by seven unelected men to impose abortion on all 50 states.



This simple amendment has become ground zero in the fight over abortion because it challenges not only the legal foundation of Roe v. Wade— that the child in the womb is a non-person — but also the source of the power that has allowed the liberal elite to reshape America in its own image.

Les Riley, the extremist head of Personhood Mississippi, told OneNewsNow today that he hoped Mississippi’s personhood referendum, Initiative 26, would help lead people to convert to Christianity. Riley was previously a blogger for the Christian secessionist group Christian Exodus and is the Chairman of the far-right Mississippi Constitution Party, which seeks to “restore” government to its “Biblical presuppositions.” In the interview with OneNewsNow, the media arm of the American Family Association which backs Initiative 26, Riley said supporters should “pray not only for victory in the election, but that many people who are outside of Christ would be brought to him by our efforts -- even those opposing the amendment”:

Proposition 26, otherwise known as a personhood amendment, declares that a person is a human at the moment of fertilization. And as the vote approaches, Les Riley, the director of Personhood Mississippi who launched the Yes on 26 drive, is encouraging supporters to utilize a major weapon: prayer. He asks believers to request that God would glorify himself and work in a way that is far beyond "what we've even got the sense to ask for."

"We would just ask that God would work in a way that would astonish the whole world and that it would be clear that he was the one working and not us," Riley says. "And maybe, perhaps specifically pray not only for victory in the election, but that many people who are outside of Christ would be brought to him by our efforts -- even those opposing the amendment."

The pro-lifer goes on to note the significance of the amendment.

"You know this will be the first time in history that a state has recognized the humanity of the unborn and their God-given right to life," he points out. "It would make abortion illegal within our borders and would also challenge notions about abortion."

Since such a challenge would apply both nationally and internationally, he concludes that tomorrow vote is "hugely important."

Mississippi Personhood Campaign Draws More Scrutiny, Questions

With few Mississippi politicians speaking out against a proposed “personhood” amendment on the state’s ballot next week, Personhood USA is hoping that the Magnolia State will be the first to adopt its radical anti-choice legislation, which has been resoundingly defeated multiple times in Colorado. Personhood USA’s Keith Mason said on Friday that Mississippi’s Initiative 26, “looks like it’ll be the first one to pass in this country.”

Mississippi already has some of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the United States. But opponents of the personhood initiative have started succeeding in educating voters over the far-reaching consequences of the proposed law, which would not only criminalize abortions without exceptions for rape, incest or health of the mother, but also potentially ban certain forms of birth control, the treatment of ectopic and problem pregnancies and in-vitro fertilization. One opponent of Initiative 26 said that polling shows that the more voters learn about the full impact of Initiative 26, the less likely they are to support it: “It’s the largest movement on numbers I’ve seen, in terms of the undecideds. It reverses the position…They’ve given us all the ammunition we need to defeat it.”

On Friday, Rachel Maddow discussed the grassroots campaign to defeat the personhood amendment and investigated the amendment’s radical roots – specifically, the role of Personhood Mississippi’s leader, Les Riley. As Maddow noted, Right Wing Watch first uncovered that Riley previously blogged for a secessionist group that wanted to create an independent theocratic state in South Carolina. In addition, Riley heads Mississippi’s far-right Constitution Party and is a past member of the neo-Confederate League of the South.

Maddow had as her guest Cristen Hemmins, who shared her story as a rape survivor who twenty years ago was kidnapped and raped by two men who shot her when she tried to flee. Hemmins told the Huffington Post that one of the bullets pierced her uterus, but if she had gotten pregnant and ifthe personhood law had been in effect at the time, she would have been prohibited by law from terminating the pregnancy.

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Personhood Ohio: Pass Personhood Amendment Or Face "God's Wrath"

Earlier we reported that Personhood USA is hoping to place its extrememe personhood amendnt on the 2012 ballot in Ohio, hoping voters there will back the amendment outlawing all abortions along with certain forms of birth control, in-vitro fertilization and the treatment of ectopic pregnancies. The group’s state affiliate, Personhood Ohio, even opposes Janet Porter’s “Heartbeat bill” because it does not go far enough in criminalizing abortion. The group needs over 320,000 valid signatures to place the amendment on the ballot, and is telling Ohioans that the consequences of failure would be devastating, warning, “God’s wrath abides on Ohio for the innocent blood that has been shed in our state”:

The Bible is clear that God's curse resides upon the land where innocent people are killed without justice. (See Numbers 35:30-34, Jeremiah 18:7-10, Proverbs 6:16-17, Psalm 9:17, Jeremiah 7:5-7, Isaiah 1:15-17.) God is longsuffering, but sooner or later, judgment will fall on a land that sheds innocent blood.

Numbers 35:30-34 tells us that when innocent blood is shed in the land, the land is "defiled" and "polluted" and only justice can cleanse it. In Deuteronomy 21:1-9, we are taught that the curse of innocent blood falls upon the community nearest the crime. This curse can only be lifted through the dissemination of justice. It is the local community where the assault has been committed that is ultimately responsible for punishing assailants to protect the innocent.

Ultimately, Ohioans have no business pointing our fingers at the Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress, or the abortion advocates entrenched in political parties for the shedding of innocent blood that Ohio allows. The federal government's jurisdiction is limited by the Constitution, which only grants the feds jurisdiction over three crimes: piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. Criminal justice is a local matter. God's wrath abides on Ohio for the innocent blood that has been shed in our state, and God obligates Ohio to do justice to protect the innocent from assault and murder, and thereby purge our land from the guilt of innocent blood. Until there is justice for the preborn, there will be no lasting mercy for us.

In 1857, the Supreme Court declared that an African American slave named Dred Scott was not a man, but the property of his owner. Over two million slaves perished on the ships headed for American ports. Millions were brutalized under the American slave trade. What followed soon after the 1857 Supreme Court decision was a Civil War that resulted in the deaths of 620,000 American lives.

The Nuremberg Laws were passed in Germany in 1935, declaring Jews to be non-persons. By the end of World War 2 in 1945, 6.5 to 8.8 million German civilians and soldiers had been killed in combat.

When Israel began to sacrifice innocent children to idols under King Manasseh, God promised judgment was coming. God was longsuffering, but within four generations of Manasseh, judgment finally came. Assyria conquered the Jews, slaughtered most of them, and carried off the survivors in chains to a life of slavery. Isaiah told them why: "Your hands are full of blood" and their cities were full of "murderers" (Isaiah 1:15, 21). Jeremiah told them why: they filled their land with "the blood of innocents" (Jeremiah 2:24 & 19:4). Hosea told them why: they were "polluted with blood" (Hosea 6:8). Joel told them why: "They have shed innocent blood in their land" (Joel 3:19). Ezekiel told them why: "Thou art become guilty in the blood that thou hast shed (Ezekiel 22:24). They continued to "slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live" (Ezekiel 13:19).

God promises judgment upon every nation that sins against him (Jeremiah 18:7-10; Psalm 9:17). For every two children conceived in Ohio, one is aborted. Almost half a million Ohioans have been slaughtered in Ohio's abortion clinics the first decade of this century.

Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

Personhood Movement Leaders Say Porter's Heartbeat Bill Is Not Extreme Enough

Janet Porter’s proposed “heartbeat bill” in Ohio, which would criminalize abortion in the vast majority of cases, is so extreme that the Ohio Right to Life Society refuses to back it, but for some anti-choice radicals, it does not go far enough. As we’ve previously reported, Personhood USA wants to put a personhood amendment on the Ohio ballot in 2012, and Personhood Ohio is no fan of Porter’s “heartbeat bill.”

While the personhood movement may appear to be a fringe group, since proponents oppose even draconian legislation like the “heartbeat bill,” the personhood movement is backed by Mike Huckabee, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel and the Family Research Council. In fact, earlier this year personhood amendment advocates berated Porter on a conference call sponsored by The Oak Initiative’s Transformation Michigan, telling Porter that her bill was not anti-choice enough.

Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Personhood Ohio director Patrick Johnson condemns Porter’s bill for banning abortion in most instead of all cases, the goal of personhood amendments. Johnson is outraged that the bill has exceptions for cases where the life of the mother is at stake, which he says is “never justified,” and is angered that it doesn’t require the state to charge women with murder for having an abortion: “This bill specifically exempts the mother from prosecution. Why does the bill exempt accomplices?” Johnson writes:

The advocates of the Heartbeat Bill have proven their willingness to push one person out of the boat to try to save another. How? By way of the bill's exceptions, its inappropriate penalties, and its counterfeit moral standard.



What is the moral standard that is invoked in the Heartbeat Bill? Is it the Constitution, which says that the government shall not deprive another of life or liberty without a trial by jury? No. Is it the law of God, which says "Do no murder" in Exodus 20 and mandates a public execution for convicted murderers? No, of course not.

In subsections H, I, and J, this bill specifically cites the federal judiciary as the standard of morality and justice. This bill prescribes into law the supremacy of the Supreme Court over both the law of God and the state and federal constitutions. This bill bows the knee to a counterfeit standard of morality at the altar of judicial tyranny. Thus, this bill is rotten to its very foundation. Its design is not to protect the preborn, not to give them justice and certainly not to please "the Father of the fatherless." God's Word is the standard for morality and justice, and His Word is supreme over the opinions of men, but the Heartbeat Bill gets on the wrong side of God's line in the sand.

Even if the Heartbeat Bill did overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue back to the states, it would not protect preborn children in Ohio. It is our hope that the Ohio Personhood Amendment to the Ohio Constitution would protect the God-given rights of every Ohioan.

Personhood USA Sets Sights On Ohio

Mississippi is set to vote this November on a patently unconstitutional personhood amendment that would criminalize abortion in their state, and ‘personhood’ advocates now strive to put a similar amendment on the ballot in Ohio in 2012. Personhood laws would not only prohibit abortion in all cases but also ban certain forms of birth control and the treatment of ectopic pregnancies by giving legal rights to zygotes. The anti-choice activists hope that Ohio will vote on it at the same time as the swing state’s closely contested presidential election. Right now Ohio is on the brink of passing Janet Porter’s ‘Heartbeat bill’ that would ban abortion in the vast majority of cases, but Porter has taken heat that her prized legislation doesn’t go as far as personhood laws.

The American Family Association, which is financing the personhood campaign in Mississippi, reports that Personhood Ohio, the state affiliate of Personhood USA, wants the amendment, if passed, enforced even if it is struck down by the courts. “There's a firm legal precedent that when the judiciary rules unconstitutionally and immorally, that we have no obligation to respect that law any more than if they would have ordered us to kill our wives,” said Patrick Johnston of Personhood Ohio, “We don't have to obey them:

A campaign is under way in Ohio to place a Personhood Amendment on the 2012 ballot.

Article 1, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution currently reads: "All persons are, by nature, free and independent and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life..." The Personhood Amendment would add that "the word 'person' or 'persons' applies to every human being at every stage of biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization."

The idea is to amend the state constitution to define that a person is a person when human life begins at conception or fertilization. Dr. Patrick Johnston of Zanesville, a family physician who heads the campaign, says the constitutional addition would protect all unborn babies in Ohio, without exception. Personhood Ohio volunteers must now obtain 380,000 signatures to call for the election.

"It's a good state to go directly to the voters to gather enough signatures, and then go to the voters and the ballot box and bypass the committees that end up corrupting good pro-life legislation in the House of Representatives and the Senate," Johnston explains.

That corruption, he sayts [sic], reaches the point where exceptions are made that result in abortions. But he believes Ohio's pro-life leaning is strong, so even if a court rules against it, it does not necessarily mean anything.

"There [are] several constitutional measures we can take," the physician asserts. "One is we can ignore it. There's a firm legal precedent that when the judiciary rules unconstitutionally and immorally, that we have no obligation to respect that law any more than if they would have ordered us to kill our wives. We don't have to obey them."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Personhood USA loves Rick Santorum.

Personhood Bill Flounders In Louisiana

In another stinging defeat for the burgeoning “personhood” movement, a Louisiana personhood bill which would ban all abortions was defeated in the state legislature. The legislation, sponsored by Republican State Rep. John LaBruzzo, was hailed by Personhood USA as one of their best chances to pass a personhood law this year.

Personhood legislation gives legal rights to zygotes, banning all abortion without exception along with procedures to treat problem pregnancies, certain forms of contraception, and even in-vitro fertilization. Incidentally, the federal Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds for abortion procedures, was the rationale used by the bill’s opponents to table the measure to send it back to committee. Personhood USA lamented that “The Hyde Amendment had a chilling effect on prolife legislators.”

Personhood USA is still counting on Mississippi voters to pass a personhood amendment this November, a referendum backed by other Religious Right groups like the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel along with top Republican politicians. The Mississippi effort is led by a proponent of Christians creating their own separate, theocratic country in America. In 2006 and 2008, personhood amendments were overwhelmingly defeated in Colorado.

The Associated Press reports:

A Metairie lawmaker's attempt to force a direct challenge to the Roe v. Wade decision by banning abortion outright in Louisiana was derailed Wednesday to the House budget committee.

The 65-30 vote of the House to send Rep. John LaBruzzo's bill to the House Appropriations Committee could shelve the measure for the legislative session.

"This would basically defeat the bill by running out the clock," LaBruzzo said. Only two weeks remain in the legislative session. LaBruzzo is proposing to define a fetus as a person from the moment of conception, which would ban abortion entirely, in violation of current federal law. Anti-abortion groups are split on the worth of the idea.

Lawmakers who supported sending the bill to the Appropriations Committee cited the possibility it could jeopardize $4.5 billion in federal health care funding Louisiana receives for its Medicaid program. A financial analysis said the proposal would put Louisiana at odds with a 1976 federal law requiring Medicaid to cover abortion services to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest. Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, pushed for the diversion of the bill.

"I am truly and completely opposed to abortion, but that's off the table," he said.

LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, disagreed with the financial analysis done by the Legislative Fiscal Office.

Alabama Weighs Extreme "Personhood" Laws

As neighboring Mississippi is set to vote on a “personhood” amendment in November, Alabama may have its own personhood debate as a “personhood” amendment and statute have been introduced in the state legislature. Republican legislators in the Alabama legislature have introduced “personhood” laws as both statutes and amendments to the state constitution. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, and the Senate statutory bill already has the support of a majority of state senators.

Personhood laws grant constitutional rights to zygotes and fetuses, and ban abortion without exception, certain forms of birth control, in vitro fertilization, and the treatment of pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies. The radical anti-choice group Personhood USA along with the Foundation for Moral Law, led by former Alabama state Supreme Court justice and likely presidential candidate Roy Moore, are the main forces behind the state’s personhood legislation. Ben DuPré, the point person for the state’s personhood campaign, is a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University and Regent University School of Law and a former clerk for Robertson’s American Center for Law and Justice and Moore, and is now an attorney for the Foundation for Moral Law and the head of Personhood Alabama. DuPré likened legal abortion to the dehumanization of black people in America:

The Foundation for Moral Law and Personhood Alabama have announced personhood bills and amendments in the House and the Senate, backed by a large number of supporters.

SB301 is a clear recognition of the personhood rights of all human beings, regardless of their age, size, or location. SB 301 states “The term ‘persons’ as used in the Code of Alabama 1975, shall include any human being from the moment of fertilization or the functional equivalent thereof.”

SB 301 is a statutory change to the Alabama Code, and is sponsored by a staggering 19 of 35 Alabama Senators.



Yesterday HB 405 and HB 409 were filed in the House by Representative John Merrill,a Personhood Statute and Personhood Amendment, respectively. The Personhood Statute and Amendment were backed by 31 co-sponsors.

“It is my belief that this bill will clearly affirm that, under law, an individual becomes a person upon fertilization,” stated Representative Merrill.



DuPré added, “America used to define the meaning of ‘person’ along racial lines; now we draw the line at the womb. Personhood legislation finally gives equal protection of the laws to the unborn as well as the born, and from the first moment of human life.”

Personhood Law Would Ban Treatment of Life-Threatening Pregnancies

As personhood legislation sprouts up in states like Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Iowa, the radical anti-choice group Personhood USA also hopes to introduce their extreme (and unconstitutional) legislation in North Dakota. Personhood bills criminalize abortion and certain forms of birth control by granting legal rights to zygotes, declaring it a separate ‘person’ from the mother. Many doctors believe that such legislation would ban in vitro fertilization and prohibit doctors from giving medical assistance to women with serious pregnancy complications like ectopic pregnancies. The AP reports on North Dakota doctors speaking out against the radical legislation in their state:

Doctors told the North Dakota Senate's Judiciary Committee that it could affect couples using in vitro fertilization to try to have a baby as well as women who have complications in early pregnancy that will prevent an embryo from developing into a viable baby. Such complications include an ectopic pregnancy, which happens when a fertilized egg begins growing outside the uterus. The doctors who testified said they did not perform abortions.



Although the measure exempts in vitro fertilization from criminal penalties, it includes language saying that "causing injury to a human being" is not justified.

Dr. Stephanie Dahl, a Fargo infertility specialist who works at North Dakota's only in vitro fertilization center, said the bill would make it illegal to do the procedure.

"The process of IVF may result in injury to an embryo," Dahl said. "It is unavoidable."

Dr. Shari Orser, a Bismarck obstetrician and gynecologist, told the committee that most eggs that are fertilized for in vitro fertilization never become viable embryos "and only a small percentage of embryos thought to be viable produce a child."

"To suggest that every embryo is a person is absurd," Orser said.

Orser said the law also would complicate the treatment of ectopic pregnancies. Without treatment, a tubal pregnancy can result in serious internal bleeding and death, she said.

Other conditions can result in a fetus developing without kidneys, lungs or a brain, Orser said.

"These diagnoses are often made in the first half of these pregnancies," Orser said. "Should a woman be forced to continue the pregnancy when she knows that her baby will die, or can she be spared the emotional distress and the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term?"

Tony Perkins Embraces the Extreme Personhood Movement

The anti-choice campaign to pass “Personhood Amendments,” the radical plan once shunned by major Religious Right organizations, continues to gain prominent supporters within the conservative movement. Following in the footsteps of other right-wing leaders like Bryan Fischer, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has come out in favor of the Personhood Amendment, which would give legal rights to zygotes and criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, common forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

As voters consistently voted down Personhood Amendments by lopsided margins in Colorado, leading groups like National Right to Life and Americans United for Life refused to back the Amendment and the Colorado Eagle Forum warned allies in 2009 that the Personhood movement intends to “spread their disaster to key swing states like Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Montana.”

And now the Personhood movement is doing exactly that, but this time with the support of major Religious Right figures, and even Republican politicians.

Fischer, the American Family Association, and the Liberty Counsel have come out strongly in favor of the Personhood Amendment that will be on Mississippi’s November ballot, as have top Republicans like Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Alan Nunnelee.

In Georgia, Perkins praised the Personhood Amendment introduced by state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, saying, “The Georgia Personhood Amendment is a reflection of a growing pro-life sentiment across the country.”

But in 2007, James Bopp, the General Counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, criticized the Personhood measure in Georgia, known as the Human Life Amendment (HLA), in a legal memo. Warning of “the inevitable striking down” of the amendment and that “significant damage would be done,” Bopp said that “the proposed HLA has serious flaws and is not a wise use of pro-life resources at this time.”

Georgia and Mississippi aren’t the only states where the Personhood movement is moving into high gear.

The State House in North Dakota just passed a personhood bill that one supporter said “should shut down” the state’s last clinic that provides abortion services, and a subcommittee in the Iowa State House also approved a personhood bill. Personhood USA, the leading advocacy organization, has pledged to mount fights in states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Montana as well.

Tony Perkins Embraces the Extreme Personhood Movement

The anti-choice campaign to pass “Personhood Amendments,” the radical plan once shunned by major Religious Right organizations, continues to gain prominent supporters within the conservative movement. Following in the footsteps of other right-wing leaders like Bryan Fischer, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has come out in favor of the Personhood Amendment, which would give legal rights to zygotes and criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, common forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.

As voters consistently voted down Personhood Amendments by lopsided margins in Colorado, leading groups like National Right to Life and Americans United for Life refused to back the Amendment and the Colorado Eagle Forum warned allies in 2009 that the Personhood movement intends to “spread their disaster to key swing states like Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Montana.”

And now the Personhood movement is doing exactly that, but this time with the support of major Religious Right figures, and even Republican politicians.

Fischer, the American Family Association, and the Liberty Counsel have come out strongly in favor of the Personhood Amendment that will be on Mississippi’s November ballot, as have top Republicans like Senator Roger Wicker and Congressman Alan Nunnelee.

In Georgia, Perkins praised the Personhood Amendment introduced by state Sen. Barry Loudermilk, saying, “The Georgia Personhood Amendment is a reflection of a growing pro-life sentiment across the country.”

But in 2007, James Bopp, the General Counsel for the National Right to Life Committee, criticized the Personhood measure in Georgia, known as the Human Life Amendment (HLA), in a legal memo. Warning of “the inevitable striking down” of the amendment and that “significant damage would be done,” Bopp said that “the proposed HLA has serious flaws and is not a wise use of pro-life resources at this time.”

Georgia and Mississippi aren’t the only states where the Personhood movement is moving into high gear.

The State House in North Dakota just passed a personhood bill that one supporter said “should shut down” the state’s last clinic that provides abortion services, and a subcommittee in the Iowa State House also approved a personhood bill. Personhood USA, the leading advocacy organization, has pledged to mount fights in states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Montana as well.

Personhood Movement Announces 50-State Strategy

The anti-choice movement to use state ballot initiatives to give fetuses and embryos legal rights has announced a nationwide petition drive to bring their radical measure to all fifty states. Opponents of reproductive rights hope to use “personhood amendments” to criminalize abortion, stem-cell research, and common forms of birth control by giving zygotes constitutional protections. While the amendment failed miserably at the polls in Colorado, Personhood USA hopes to bring personhood amendments to states such as Florida, Mississippi, Montana, and Wisconsin, among others.

Personhood activists have their hopes set on Mississippi, where the amendment will be voted on in November. Personhood Mississippi is led by Les Riley, a member of an extreme separatist organization called Christian Exodus, and Riley’s campaign has received the support of notable Republicans like Congressman Alan Nunnelee and Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant, and groups such as the American Family Association and Liberty Counsel.

Now, Personhood USA has launched petition drives in every single state. According to the group, they already have gathered over 900,000 signatures:

"Now in every state in America, prolife volunteers are engaging their communities with the truth of personhood, and are working to change the laws as citizens or lobbying the lawmakers in their state to do their job and protect every person by love and by law, " stated Keith Mason, cofounder of Personhood USA. "We are thrilled to have met our goal to be in all 50 states in just two years, and we are so thankful to be closing in on 1 million signatures defending the personhood of the preborn child."



"Personhood USA functions as a support system, giving as little or as much help as needed, and we have truly been blessed by Jesus Christ as He is accomplishing so much through us in just the past two years. We can't wait to see what He does, in all 50 states, in 2011," added Cal Zastrow, cofounder of Personhood USA. "We will keep working hard for the rights of preborn children, knowing that this is the best chance we've ever had to end abortion in America."

Watch Les Riley explain to the AFA’s Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer back in October about the Personhood movement’s plan to overturn abortion rights:

Leading Republicans Embrace Personhood Amendment and “Christian Exodus,” Separatist Advocate

Last week Right Wing Watch reported on the success of anti-choice activists to place a “Personhood Amendment” on Mississippi’s 2011 ballot to coincide with the gubernatorial election. The radical group Personhood USA hopes to use the so-called “Personhood Amendments” to criminalize abortion, common forms of birth control, stem cell research, and even in-vitro fertilization, by giving legal rights to fetuses and embryos.

Major anti-choice organizations including the National Right to Life Committee have generally shied away from “Personhood Amendments” due to the extreme nature of the measure and the fringe Personhood USA. Colorado voters rejected three different Amendments from Personhood Colorado by wide margins, with the 2010 measure failing with less than 30% of the vote.

Activists in Mississippi, however, have made great headway in receiving support from the Religious Right and the GOP. Leading Religious Right groups and Republican politicians, including the American Family Association (AFA), Liberty Counsel, and Congressman-Elect Alan Nunnelee, have backed Personhood Mississippi’s efforts. Mississippi’s Republican Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate Phil Bryant has embraced the Personhood Initiative as well. Bryant, when announcing his bid for governor on the AFA’s radio program, claimed that “one of my goals in public life is to end abortion in Mississippi, so we’re going to work really hard on that.” A vocal and ardent supporter of the “Personhood Amendment,” Bryant called the initiative “another way of trying to stop abortion in Mississippi and simply allow once and for all the opportunity for the people to say we want to do that and we feel so strongly about it that we want to add it to our Constitution.”

Today, Personhood Mississippi (the state affiliate of Personhood USA) will be hosting a rally in Jackson to celebrate the measure’s inclusion on the 2011 ballot, and Bryant is scheduled to speak at the event.

But who is behind Personhood Mississippi and the Personhood Amendment’s sponsor?

The head of Personhood Mississippi is right wing activist Les Riley, a featured blogger of the group Christian Exodus, which has “goal of forming an independent Christian nation that will survive after the decline and fall of the financially and morally bankrupt American empire.”

Christian Exodus had attempted to move thousands of supporters to South Carolina in order to “form a biblically inspired government and secede from the United States,” and also has close ties to the separatist and Neo-Confederate League of the South. Christian Exodus also is encouraging adherents to move to Panama and Idaho in order to build theocratic settlements.

Lt. Governor Bryant said he wanted to “personally thank Les Riley” for his work, and Les Riley told AFA Radio that Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment is “the biggest news in the pro-life movement in twenty years” because it will not only eradicate reproductive rights in Mississippi but also set up a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

As the “Personhood Amendment” movement finds more allies and greater support in the Religious Right and Republican Party, its extremist leaders and radical beliefs have not changed.

American Family Association Promotes Extreme “Personhood Amendment” in Mississippi

After efforts to amend the Colorado constitution to give constitutional rights to embryos and fetuses badly failed in November, advocates of so-called “Personhood Amendments” are now hoping that Mississippi voters will back a similar amendment in 2011. The Colorado proposal, called Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.” Mississippi activists were able to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial election.

Back in 2008, the American Life League began pushing “Personhood Amendments” to become an integral part of the anti-choice movement; however, many Religious Right groups traditionally resisted “Personhood Amendments” because of their radical nature and tremendous unpopularity. Anti-choice groups in Colorado such as National Right to Life, Americans United for Life, Colorado Citizens for Life, and the Colorado Eagle Forum refused to support the “Personhood Amendment.”

Personhood USA, the leading organization behind such measures, likened President Obama to the “Angel of Death,” and activists in Colorado compared pro-choice laws with Nazism.

Now, “Personhood Amendment” proponents will try their luck in Mississippi, which already has strict anti-choice laws, and they are receiving significant publicity and support from a leading Religious Right group: the American Family Association, which is based in Mississippi.

Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:

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So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.

Not to be outdone, AFA Director of Issue Analysis Bryan Fischer said that Mississippi’s “Personhood Amendment” will advance his objective of “aligning” the country’s laws with “the word of God:”

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One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.

As “Personhood Amendment” advocates hope to find a more favorable electorate in Mississippi in 2011, will more Religious Right groups join the AFA in embracing their radical proposals?

Personhood Colorado: From Slavery, to Demons, to Nazis

First, the activists behind Colorado's Amendment 62 tried to generate support for their effort by running a radio ad featuring a "former slave" speaking out against abortion.

Then they upped the ante with a web video calling President Obama the "Angel of Death."

So, of course, the next logical step is to invoke the Nazis:

A volunteer for the “Yes on 62” campaign is using graphic pictures of dying Jews in concentrations camps to get you to vote yes on the anti-abortion measure.

The Facebook page was created earlier in October; at first Parenthood Colorado told TARGET 13 that they were aware of the site and no one on staff took part in its creation.

“I’ve seen the comparison before,” said Roberto Garcia-Jones, Director of Personhood Colorado. When asked if he agreed with the concept, Garcia-Jones said, “I support the notion that what Nazis did to Jews is like what were doing to pre-borns today.”

At first Garcia-Jones was unaware of the person behind the postings, but when asked about key staffers and supporters who “liked” the site, he told us he would get one of the supporters we asked about to call us back.

A few minutes later, TARGET 13 received a call from Keith Mason, co-founder of Personhood USA. He admitted to TARGET 13 that it was one of campaign’s volunteers who created the site. Mason said, “This is not what we are about.”

Mason also said he was unaware that key staffers were made administrators of the Facebook page. After the calls, any tie to Parenthood Colorado was taken down from the Facebook page and Mason said key staffers no longer had administrative privileges.

Not surprisingly, these over-the-top tactics don't seem to be working, as even anti-choice news outlets like LifeNews.com are reporting that the effort appears poised to suffer another crushing defeat:

A second poll shows Amendment 62, the personhood amendment that would ban all abortions in the state if upheld in court, will likely lose when voters head to the polls next week.

SurveyUSA conducted a poll or 540 voters from October 19-21 for the Denver Post and 9-NEWS and the survey has about a 4/2 percent margin of error.

The poll shows just 20 percent of Colorado residents support Amendment 62 while 56 percent say they are opposed to it. Another 25 percent of Colorado voters were still undecided, even as early voting began in the state. 

In 2008, a similar effort received only 27% support, and it looks like it might actually do even worse this time around.

Personhood USA Calls President Obama the "Angel of Death"

A few months ago, we noted how the anti-choice zealots behind Colorado's "personhood" Amendment 62 had started running radio ads likening abortion to slavery ... but that was nothing compared to this new video supporting the effort from Personhood USA in which President Obama is explicitly likened to the Angel of Death:

Here is the video which, even by crazy right-wing standards, is absolutely astounding:

Personhood USA Calls President Obama the "Angel of Death"

A few months ago, we noted how the anti-choice zealots behind Colorado's "personhood" Amendment 62 had started running radio ads likening abortion to slavery ... but that was nothing compared to this new video supporting the effort from Personhood USA in which President Obama is explicitly likened to the Angel of Death:

Here is the video which, even by crazy right-wing standards, is absolutely astounding:

We'll Keep Swinging and Missing Until We Have Won

We've written about the anti-choice movement's new focus on "personhood" as it attempts to find new tactics to outlaw reproductive choice a few times in the past, mostly to note that efforts to date have not been particularly impressive considering that it was wiped out at the polls in Colorado last November.

But that doesn't mean they are giving up.  Recently, Personhood USA announced that "seven different states have started efforts for the personhood of pre-born children. In addition, Rep. Duncan Hunter has introduced H.R. 881, the Right to Life Act , on the federal level, propelling the personhood movement forward."

Now, RH Reality Check reports that the North Dakota House just passed such a measure yesterday:

On Tuesday, one body of North Dakota's state legislature voted, 51-41, not only to ban abortion, but to define life as beginning at conception. Such a measure, considered extreme even by pro-life standards, would have far-reaching consequences on women's health.

State Rep. Dan Ruby introduced the legislation, which declares that "for purposes of interpretation of the constitution and laws of North Dakota, it is the intent of the legislative assembly that an individual, a person, when the context indicates that a reference to an individual is intended, or a human being includes any organism with the genome of homo sapiens."

"It was at the bottom of the calendar and we didn't expect [the House] to get to it, so it caught us a little bit by surprise," said Tim Stanley, senior director of government and public affairs for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. "This bill dangerous, far reaching, and allows government -- not women and families -- to make critical decisions about health care." Some state legislators have been quoted saying the intent of the measure is not to ban abortion outright. However, many legal experts agree that defining life as beginning at conception would affect access to birth control and emergency contraception as well as affect in vitro fertilization. "I'm not sure if this is naivete or if this is sincere," Stanley said. "The bottom line is that our attorneys have looked at this and are extremely concerned."

OneNewsNow asked one of the activists who is pushing this personhood effort, Cal Zastrow of Michigan Citizens for Life, why they are focusing on this issue considering that it lost so badly in Colorado, and he says it is because they will not quit until abortion is outlawed:

"Because it raises the pro-life tide and it gets the vision to not quit until every baby is protected by law and love," he contends. "And you're right, we didn't win the World Series every time we swung the bat -- but we're going to keep swinging the bat and keep going until we have won the World Series."

Of course, a more accurate explanation is probably the one Katy Walker of the American Life League gave last year when she admitted that "the idea of personhood in this movement is really the only thing, the only option left to us."

Right Wing Leftovers

  • Focus on the Family Action has launched a petition drive calling on Congress and President Barack Obama to prevent taxpayer money from funding the abortion industry.
  • Speaking of Focus, the organization is also upset about the marriage of two women on the soap opera "All My Children."
  • Liberty University School of Law hosted Howard Phillips, founder and chairman of The Conservative Caucus (TCC) as well as the Constitution Party, who was praised by Jerry Falwell, Jr. for being "instrumental in encouraging Liberty students to become involved in politics."
  • Personhood USA reports that seven states have introduced bills affirming the personhood rights of pre-born humans from the moment of fertilization.
  • "Atheists Attack in Texas!" So says the Free Market Foundation.
  • What does it mean that Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger both performed during the Inauguration ceremonies? Nothing, except that they are both communists and Seeger is a Unitarian Universalist, which is "a false religion that emphasizes tolerance and respect."
  • Finally, Tobin Grant, an associate professor of political science at Southern Illinois University — Carbondale, asks if the stimulus bill is "anti-religious." No, it is not, he says:
  • However, the language in the stimulus bill is neither new nor unusual, since restrictions have been part of federal higher education policy for over 40 years. Rather than inhibit religion, these restrictions make possible federal funding to religious colleges and universities ... The only facilities that would not qualify are chapels, church buildings, and others that are most often used for explicitly religious purposes. The key is to define the primary purpose of a facility. If its purpose is religious teaching or worship, then the building is ineligible. If the facility is used for classes, housing, or study, however, then it can be renovated using funds from the stimulus bill.
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Personhood USA Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Wednesday 05/30/2012, 11:15am
Personhood USA president Keith Mason spoke to Janet Mefferd on Monday to cast doubt on Romney’s record on reproductive rights and stem-cell research, addressing Romney’s consistency, or lack thereof, on abortion rights and stem-cell research, role in health care reform in Massachusetts, and views on mandating hospitals to distribute emergency contraceptive pills. “At the end of the day, I don’t believe he is pro-life,” Mason said, arguing that Romney’s move on contraception coverage was no different from the Obama administration’s stance: Mefferd:... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 01/25/2012, 3:30pm
To the surprise of nobody, Mitt Romney is ignoring an invitation to participate in the presidential candidate forum at Liberty Counsel’s Florida Awake! conference on Saturday. So far, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accepted the invitation, while Ron Paul respectfully declined because he will be outside of Florida at the time. Romney has already skipped the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Iowa and two Personhood USA forums, and his decision to skip the Liberty Counsel debate earned him a rebuke from Personhood USA, even though Romney at one point endorsed the group’s extreme... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 12/28/2011, 1:55pm
A member of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is introducing two of the most radical anti-choice bills in the country, a personhood measure to give legal status to zygotes and a ‘heartbeat law’ that would also effectively ban abortion. Like in Ohio, more established anti-choice groups are wary of passing such clearly unconstitutional laws and are instead encouraging the legislature to defund Planned Parenthood. The Omaha World Herald reports that State Sen. Mark Christensen is proposing both measures, and that the “heartbeat bill is expected to be introduced in the... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 12/28/2011, 12:54pm
It is remarkable to realize how, in just a few years and despite repeated losses, the "personhood" movement has gone from a fringe effort that had no support to a central part of the Republican presidential primary. When the first personhood effort in Colorado got trounced at the polls in 2008, anti-choice groups ranging from National Right to Life and Americans United for Life to the Eagle Forum all refused to support these sorts of amendments. But this year nearly the entire Religious Right movement got behind the personhood effort in Mississippi ... which likewise failed... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 12/21/2011, 6:35pm
Republican presidential candidiates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have signed on for a “Presidential Pro-Life Forum” hosted by Personhood USA and moderated by Iowa conservative radio personality Steve Deace. The three candidates along with Rick Perry have already announced their support for personhood laws. Personhood USA wants abortion and even common forms of birth control banned without exception, and personhood laws may even outlaw in-vitro fertilization and the treatment of problem pregnancies. The group launched unsuccessful referendums in Colorado and... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 12/14/2011, 5:38pm
Last month, the radical "personhood" amendment in Mississippi was trounced in the polls, with 58% of voters rejecting the Religious Right's effort to implement draconian anti-choice restrictions in the state. But that has not stopped supporters of this "personhood" movement from moving ahead with plans to try and pass similar amendments in states across the nation.  And now Personhood USA has announced that Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich have all signed the organization's pledge to support and promote both state and federal "personhood... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 12/06/2011, 1:40pm
The unexpectedly staggering defeat of the personhood amendment in Mississippi last month has not slowed down Personhood USA’s campaign to put stringent anti-choice laws on the ballot in states across the country. In fact, the group wants to put personhood laws back on the ballot in Colorado, where it was defeated twice, and even make a second attempt in Mississippi. Personhood Mississippi head and Christian separatist Les Riley and Personhood USA’s Jennifer Mason told the Washington Times that activists are committed to passing the amendment in Mississippi: “I can tell you... MORE >
Brian Tashman, Wednesday 11/30/2011, 2:21pm
Along with pledging to have a third vote in Colorado and a second vote in Mississippi, Personhood USA is trying to put the extreme anti-choice measure on the ballot in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon. Now, you can add Oklahoma to that growing list of states targeted by Personhood USA. In an interview with OneNewsNow, the news site of the American Family Association, which bankrolled Personhood Mississippi, the head of Personhood USA’s Oklahoma state chapter announced that they will begin collecting signatures to place a personhood amendment on the state... MORE >