What Is Ted Cruz's Position On Personhood?

The anti-choice movement has, in recent years, been feuding over “personhood” laws, which ban all abortions by declaring zygotes and fetuses to be legal “persons” protected by the Constitution. Efforts to pass state-level “personhood” amendments have failed miserably, in part because opponents have pointed out that they could also threaten legal birth control and in-vitro fertilization, and a federal personhood bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul hasn’t gotten off the ground in Congress.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz, who has claimed the mantle of the Religious Right in his run for the presidency, seems to be attempting to sidestep the “personhood” debate by taking both sides at once.

Back in 2012, when Cruz was running for a U.S. senate seat in Texas, the anti-choice group National Pro-Life Alliance reported that Cruz had told its members that he would cosponsor Paul’s “personhood” bill, the Life at Conception Act.

Cruz never did cosponsor that legislation, but last year, as he was starting his campaign for the presidency, he signed a pledge written by the pro-personhood group Georgia Right to Life to “support a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” thus earning the group’s endorsement.

Then, later last year, Cruz was asked by social conservative leader Robert George about the basic theory behind Paul’s “personhood” bill — that if fetuses are declared to be “persons” under the law, Roe v. Wade will fall and abortion will be banned without the need for a constitutional amendment — Cruz said that he “absolutely” agreed.

Then, just this month, as he scrambled to woo social conservative voters ahead of the South Carolina Republican primary, Cruz recorded a video message extolling a resolution that state Republicans had passed in support of a state “personhood” amendment.

Throughout this time, Cruz has insisted that his extreme anti-choice position won’t have any effect on the legality and availability of contraception.

Now, a video is making the rounds among abortion-rights advocates that shows Cruz at a campaign stop in Iowa in January explicitly saying that he has “not supported personhood legislation” because “it focuses on issues that are unrelated to protecting unborn children” — an apparent reference to contraception and IVF.

“I believe we should protect every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of death,” Cruz says. “I have not supported personhood legislation because I think — and the pro-life community is divided on this — but I think personhood legislation can be counterproductive because it focuses on issues that are unrelated to protecting unborn children, and I think our focus should be valuing and cherishing every human life.”

When asked about his views on birth control, the senator adds: “I believe that birth control should be legal and unencumbered. And there are a lot of folks in politics that try to paint a false picture, they try to scare people to suggest that there are politicians trying to go after their birth control. It’s not true.”

Today, the pro-personhood group American Right to Life announced in a press release that it “disavows” Cruz because of his comments backtracking on its signature issue:

A mere 6 months after signing the Georgia Right To Life personhood pledge, Ted Cruz reversed himself last month stating, "I have not supported personhood legislation..." His flip-flop on this position that would make all abortions illegal from the moment of fertilization with no exceptions has resulted in Cruz being eliminated from consideration of being endorsed by American Right to Life.

"It's tragic that Ted Cruz has taken contradictory positions on abortion," said ARTL president Leslie Hanks, "and it's sobering to realize that his effort to get votes from the Republican base could explain his behavior. What America needs is a statesman who will never hesitate to use the bully pulpit to proclaim the God-given, inalienable right to life, at every stage of biological development. No exceptions."

Keep in mind that the video that offended American Right to Life was recorded well before Cruz praised a potential “personhood” amendment in South Carolina. Which leaves us to wonder: What exactly is his position on this?