TREACHERY TOWARDS THE PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT
This is an exchange between Randall Terry and Steve Ertelt of life news. In this exchange, the personhood amendment is debated and the validity of the personhood amendment seems to be validated by Mr. Terry. This is a long posting, and I ask the reader to be patient and read this in it’s entirety.
Hi Steve (and all), Since you (Steve) responded to my article, I reprinted your response, and my response to your response. It is a great teaching moment. (We can go back and forth on this as long as you like.) Please feel free to use this any way you want. Those of you I have copied are free to cut and paste this as you see fit.
A Righteous Battle for Life
Why are Catholics Betraying the Personhood Amendment?
While Missy Smith's heroic effort to run TV ads in DC showing aborted babies (see ads at www.MissySmith2010.com and help her if you can!) another battle is raging. It concerns the "personhood amendment" efforts in several states.
The goal of these efforts, are to declare at the state level, that a "person" (as a legal being, whose rights can be protected by law) is present at conception.
Conceptually, this could pave the way for laws protecting "persons" from assault or murder to apply to "persons" who yet reside in their mothers womb.
Here are samples of the wording:
Section 32. Person defined. As used in sections 3*, 6**, and 25*** of Article II of the state constitution, the term "person" shall apply to every human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
SECTION 28. Person Defined.--
(a) The words “person” and “natural person” apply to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, health, function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.
(b) This amendment shall take effect on the first day of the next regular legislative session occurring after voter approval of this amendment.
Other states have similar projects under way.
Two evangelical men - both of whom I consider friends; both of whom are fine, Christian men with a heart for the babies - were discussing why three different groups (who are predominantly Catholic) and certain Catholic bishops have spoken or fought against the "personhood amendment movement" that is afoot in several states.
I responded to them at length, and thought this discussion warranted the chance to help teach our readers. Sadly, a young man named Steven Ertelt, who operates LifeNews.com defended those who attack and subvert the personhood effort. So, I printed his words at the end, and my response to him. You may feel free to cut and paste this, and use it as you see fit.
The State Battles for Personhood for the Unborn
By Randall A. Terry
Those Catholic groups who stand against the personhood amendment initiatives are wrong on four fronts: 1) ethically; 2) historically; 3) politically; and 4) judicially. I will shortly prove my point.
But first, concerning the Catholic bishops who oppose these efforts,we should fear for their souls; they have led their flocks astray on a life and death matter, and will give account for this at a dreadful judgment.
I proffer that the opposition of certain Catholic bishops to the personhood amendments is not connected to their Catholicism - which would demand that they fight for babies with all their might, according to the duties laid down in Evangelium Vitae by John Paul II - but rather their refusal to follow genuine Catholic teaching. I think the opposition we see (from cleric and layman, Catholic and protestant) is a brew of ignorance, arrogance, perhaps laziness, and for certain, a fear of conflict, bad press, and of drawn out sacrifice. Please let me make my case.
1) Ethically, we have no right to not fight. We must fight as if our own lives hung in the balance. If you were about to be ripped apart, and the personhood initiative had the remotest chance to save your life (I will explain how it could in a moment), neither I, nor any bishop, nor any lay political activist has the right to say "It is not the right time." Jesus said, "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." If you or I were threatened with murder, we would want every tool available used for our rescue, however slim the chance of success.
Second (in regards to ethics), abortion is murder. It is a violation of the command, "You Shall not Murder." That command is above all the laws of men, and that command must be heralded far and wide. Moreover, Romans 13 teaches us (along with many other passages) that civil authority exists to reflect and enforce the criminal laws of God (i.e., the second tablet of the Law.) Bringing civil law in conformity with God's law is a demand from heaven, and a duty among men. To fight to make all child-killing illegal from conception to birth - state by state - legislature by legislature - at the federal legislative level, and in every court we can - is a duty on our part. To not fight is a dereliction of duty. Consider the vantage point of the victims. Can anyone really believe that the souls of the babies who have been dispatched into eternity by the abortionist's knife would say: "No! Do NOT try for a personhood amendment! The time is not right now!"
2) Historically, they are wrong. I invite you to ponder the social revolutions of the past. Think of the defeat of the Stamp Act; ponder the Boston Tea Party; consider the abolitionists and the underground railroad; think well on the suffragettes or those who ended child-labor. And finally, remember the words and images of the Civil Rights Movement. (I urge you to read Mother Mary Jones autobiography, and Martin Luther King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail.") If you study these movements - their rhetoric, their actions, and the images they used - you will see just how incorrect the opponents of personhood amendments are. It is PRECISELY because we have NOT used tactics like these sundry movements that babies continue to die. It is (in part) because we have NOT pushed for personhood amendments at the state level - in conjunction with a tenth amendment demand for state autonomy and states' rights - that child-killing by abortion is still with us. Every single social revolution I mentioned above was won by people who did and said and showed things that were "ill timed" or "imprudent" etc. Finally, to recount the sacrifices and risks - and victories against all odds - that the heroes and martyrs of the Church have given us would take an encyclopedia.
3) Politically, the opponents of personhood eforts are mistaken as well. When looking at the histories of other social revolutions, it is safe to say that the proponents of change rarely - if ever - possessed a majority. Samuel Adams said: "It is not necessary to have a majority to prevail, only an irate tireless minority, keen to set brush fires in the minds of men." We have forgotten - or betrayed - this truth. The reason the pro-life movement has SO LITTLE political strength - and it is waining by the year - is because our political activities contradict our message. I ask you: Is abortion murder, or not? If it is, then why are we so timid and tepid? We should do EVERYTHING in our power to make it illegal again. When the abolitionists or the suffragettes fought politically against all odds, year after year, and were shot down again and again, they did not resort to the silliness of "We need a better time..." or "We need to educate people more." No; they screamed louder. They became more shrill in their cries for justice. That is why they prevailed politically. They were to politics, what the importunate widow was to prayer.
Concerning saving lives now - as I alluded to above - we will save more lives now by this type of activity than without it. Let me explain.
If a young woman sees, hears, or reads a news story about those "crazy people" making all these sacrifices to pass a personhood amendment because "abortion is murder," she may choose life for her baby (if she is considering killing the child.) I know of what I speak: After my appearance on Oprah years ago, in two separate cities I was approached by two separate women, who both placed a baby in my arms, and told me they saw me on Oprah. Both of them had abortions scheduled, and both of them cancelled their appointment, and gave life to their child. How many other babies were saved because of my appearance on Oprah? I did not have pictures of babies; I was not counseling those ladies; I was simply declaring the truth that abortion was murder on a TV show. And by the way: I was on Oprah because I was making a fuss; I wasn't waiting for the "timing to be right." I was screaming my lungs out - in word and deed - and it was newsworthy. This is critical to any social revolution. The opponents of personhood whine that they get bad press, or no press. Well, do something newsworthy - like trying to change the state constitution - and you will get a lot of press!
4) Judicially, those opposed to personhood amendments are wrong as well. The pipeline to the Supreme Court can take 3 - 10 years. If one of these efforts in any state prevails, it could be the case that actually overturns Roe. We cannot wait for the perfect 5 - 4 majority to bring a case. Our next President could appoint the final vote to overturn Roe, but we cannot wait to find out. The pipeline should be FILLED with cases from as many states as possible. The more states that demand personhood, and the more pressure that is thereby brought to bear in the judiciary, the more judges look like tyrants and fools for justifying murder and harboring murderers. And who knows; maybe a Governor with some backbone will tell the federal courts to "go to hell"; that he/she intends to uphold the state's constitution, including protecting the "persons" of the unborn.
Moreover, judicially - in my opinion - the single greatest source of the loss of life, liberty, and justice in America, is the Supreme Court, followed by various state courts such as in Vermont and Massachusetts. Think of how many evils the Courts have unleashed on us. But what is worse than this - may God forgive us, and our forbears inspire us to battle - is that our founders saw the danger of a judicial oligarchy, and gave us protection against it in article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution. I.e., congress can pass a law, and tell the Court they have no jurisdiction in that area.
America has been overrun by judicial tyrants who - with their lifetime appointments - are beyond the grasp of voters. If our elected federal officials had used the above remedy (Article 3, Section 2), child-killing and a host of lesser evils would have been destroyed. Moreover, the ability to impeach judges who violate their oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States (such as in the case of a judge who decrees a "right" to murder our offspring) has been left to rot. Our political leaders are often cowards and traitors, by virtue of their sins of omission; i.e, they submit to judicial decrees, rather than defying them, and impeaching the lawless judges. Think what would have happened in Massachusetts if Governor Romney and the State Legislature had refused to obey the State Court when it ORDERED them to create homosexual marriage, and rather proceeded to impeach the judges that "so ordered" that abomination. Instead, Romney and company groveled like the frightened Roman Senate before Caesar, and thereby dragged the nation close to the abyss.
I will not belabor the point. The simple fact is that ethically, historically, politically, and judicially, the "personhood amendment movement" is correct in its mission. For that matter, so is anyone who calls for a federal law to outlaw all child-killing from conception till birth, with an Article 3, Section 2 prohibition of Court review.
These efforts do more to "educate people" than most (if not all) of the other efforts combined. Why? Because these efforts show that someone actually believes that abortion is murder, that babies should be protected by law, and is therefore trying to pass a law or amendment to protect babies. The press coverage alone is worth its weight in gold, because the conflict and controversy surrounding the amendment forces people to think; it "educates" them.
Those who oppose these efforts - and sit (alive) in their comfort, pontificating follies, speaking of "better timing" - are simply wrong. But far worse; in my opinion, many of them have become like the Vichy government of France that collaborated with the Germans in the 1940s. Think about it. Child-killing could not continue without the silence, inactivity, fear, and treachery of those who "wait for a better time."
It is not the Catholicism of those who oppose personhood that misguides them, but rather their refusal to obey it.
Your Servant in Christ, and a Slave to the Battle to End Legalized Child-killing,
--------- Steve Ertelt's Response Follows, Word for Word-------
Note from Randall: I would not normally print a response to an article like the one above. However, the man who responds below holds himself out as a "news source" for pro-life news. He does have several thousand readers. Those readers need to know that Mr. Ertelt's ethical compass is badly damaged, as his response (and my response to him) clearly shows.
Here is Mr. Ertelt's response to my above article.
Let me provide you with the counter view, and the one I believe Phyllis understands:
There are many pro-life groups and millions of pro-life people (including perhaps hundreds of thousands in Colorado who will be voting no on Amendment 62 soon) that the personhood amendment strategy will not be successful at this juncture in the abortion battle. That doesn't mean anyone who disagrees with the strategy does not accept the fact that an unborn child is a human being, or person, starting at the moment of conception (fertilization). They do believe that wholehertedly.
Their position is not against personhood amendments, but for the pro-life movement to do some due diligence first. Otherwise we're casting our pearls before swine, if you will.
The only way to ever get a personhood amendment upheld at the Supreme Court level, where it will assuredly go after the pro-abortion side files a lawsuit against it, is to have a pro-life Supreme Court. At best, we have a Supreme Court that is pro-abortion on a 5-4 margin.
The only way to have a pro-life Supreme Court is to have a pro-life president to select nominees and a pro-life Senate to confirm them. The first part of that battle (the Senate) takes place next month. The second part of the battle takes place in 2012 (replacing Obama with a pro-life president).
Once we get to the point that a personhood amendment will be upheld in court and not be overturned (adding to the pro-Roe, pro-abortion case law further establishing unlimited abortion as a legal precedent) then, and only then, does pressing for one make sense. (And even then, the best legal strategy would likely be an abortion ban similar to the South Dakota measures, rather than a personhood amendment, but that's another debate).
What's sadly ironic to me is that the personhood amendment backers here in Colorado suggest there's perhaps not even a single pro-life member of the Supreme Court willing to uphold a personhood amendment (I strongly disagree). That, of course, makes the case further because it makes it more abundantly clear that the time and money spent on a personhood amendment is entirely wasted by running into a 9-0 Supreme Court that will overturn it immediately and make Colorado taxpayers pay for Planned Parenthood's legal bills.
Thus, those in the pro-life movement who believe the personhood amendment strategy is currently misguaded aren't pro-abortion or against personhood. What they're for is relying on sound legal and political strategy and principles to actually have the Supreme Court overturn Roe and uphold an abortion ban or a personhood amendment rather than not doing our homework beforehand and setting ourselves up for a big loss and the mainstream media printing the pro-life movement's obituary.
-----------------My Response to Steve Ertelt Follows--------------
Note From Randall: This is the core of the issues at hand. I pray each of you "get it"
Hi Steve and All.
I was very shocked and disappointed by your [Steve's] response.
It appears you did not read my response carefully before you responded, because you did not respond to key historical facts and principles of social revolution. If you did read it carefully, then you are a danger to yourself and others; to perpetrate that which is untrue after having been told the truth shows arrogance, or an unteachable spirit, or a lack of intellectual integrity. The simple truth is that after 38 years, the outline you gave has left us 50,000,000 dead babies, with no end in sight.
What makes your statement dangerous are that parts of it are true; most of what you said regarding the process of the Court, the President, etc is accurate; what makes the conclusions false is what you left out.
I will use parts of your response to show the inaccuracy of your position.
For example, to state that the judicial overturn of a personhood amendment would bring back unlimited child-killing, including the 24 hour waiting periods, or the parental involvement laws in the states that have them, is simply untrue. Many efforts and laws have been made - including the first so called "partial birth abortion" ban - that have been struck down by courts, but have left other meager gains the pro-life movement has made intact. To say otherwise is untrue.
We could have 100 defeats in the courts - but that would not necessarily set us back; it might bring us closer to victory. Study the cases brought against the government regarding the Vietnam war. While they did not prevail in Court, they prevailed in the court of public opinion, which led to a change in the administration's position.
Next, the pro-life movement doing its "due diligence" would mean that we assess our tactics and strategy for the last 38 years. In any other arena, or in any business, we [the pro-life movement] would be defunct. We would be out of business, because we have failed in our clear, simple objective; namely, to make child-killing illegal again from conception till birth, including making illegal the pill, IUDs, Norplant, etc. The "due diligence" you speak of would lead us to conclude that our major leaders and groups have failed, and that their strategies - or at least their judgment - must be suspect, or even disregarded. I.e., when Neville Chamberlain's appeasement policy failed, and the fallacy of his "peace in our times" trust in Hitler showed itself for what it was, England threw him out, and replaced him with Churchill.
Next, the "pearls before swine" line lacks meaning. How could telling people that babies are persons who need to be recognized by law be putting "pearls before swine?" Rather, it shows people what we believe. Use your logic and rhetoric in the fight to end slavery. "Telling slave owners that we must recognize slaves as persons is throwing our pearls before swine." One would think the slaves would have a different view of our efforts. Also, given your logic, we would never fight for laws to protect the babies. What better time than now to say that babies who have landfills for graves should be considered persons?
You say that pro-life opposition to the personhood amendment is "relying on sound legal and political strategy and principles to actually have the Supreme Court overturn Roe and uphold an abortion ban or a personhood amendment rather than not doing our homework beforehand and setting ourselves up for a big loss and the mainstream media printing the pro-life movement's obituary."
First of all, history has shown - both the pro-life movement's history, and the successful social revolutions of which I spoke - that what you propose is not sound; rather, it has failed. Partly it has failed because it lacks urgency. NOTHING you wrote rings of urgency for the babies; nothing screams "MURDER!" The lack of urgency tells the world that we do not really believe babies are being butchered, and thrown in landfills.
Second, the "mainstream media" has already tried to write "the pro-life movement's obituary", and nearly did so in the Presidential election of 2008. It was a "non-issue." But since then, the "mainstream media" has covered the pro-life "war on the ground" at Notre Dame, the fight against Sotomayor (including the arrests), the fierce battle against health care - including the disruption of Howard Dean's meeting on national TV, and the sit in and arrests at Nancy Pelosi's office - the burning in effigy of various politicians who support child-killing or supported Kagan, and now Missy Smith's incredible campaign for the U.S. House in which she is showing murdered babies in her TV ads.
You see my point, Steve. If it was not for the fierce and unflagging efforts of our Insurrecta Nex team (and others like us) in these and other battles, the "pro-life movement" would be ignored. But - thanks be to God - the mainstream press has had the integrity to report accurately what we have done. It is not an obituary they write, but rather an account of our calls to battle. We will do the same in the battle for personhood.
I tell you, Steve, and the others reading this: I have been on the front lines for over a quarter of a century: The pro-life movement became the pro-life establishment; then the pro-life establishment became the pro-life industry; then the pro-life industry became pro-life collaborators with the child-killers.
I will write more on that theme soon.
I will also continue to expose the curse of the 501c3 tax exempt deal with the devil, that keeps these "pro-life groups" from getting behind Missy Smith, or even sending people to her web site. By the way, I have looked at your site regarding Missy Smith's campaign, and noticed that you did not have the integrity to put a link to her ads at www.MissySmith2010.com. Are you one of those tax exempt groups that has taken the bit and bridle of the IRS for the sake of a few pieces of silver?
I rest my case from my first response about the personhood amendments, knowing that you have not disproved anything I have said historically or tactically; rather, you have confirmed it.
Go ahead Steve, read Mother Mary Jones Autobiography, and Dr. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail. And take the time to read what I wrote concerning this battle in Colorado and elsewhere. See how real social revolution works. And when you are ready to fast, and pray, and ponder those great masterpieces (not including mine!), if you have the clarity of mind and wisdom of God, you will turn from the failed strategy you propose, and become a true "abolitionist."
P.S. By the way, I am glad you pulled down the comment about your 5,000 releases on your web site, and the hope for 5,000 more. You do not want people to see that you have no plan to end child-killing soon, and that your vision is to stay comfortable in your chair in front of your computer for the next 17 years. Come to DC, Steven, and our battle proven war-band will teach you what real social revolution