California’s New Personhood Law Masquerading as Human Rights Amendment

Sep 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

In California, where haters once peddled Proposition 8, we see the the sinister but very positive-sounding “California Human Rights Amendment.” Humans Rights – and from a conservative group. It’s a bit of an oxymoron, isn’t it?

And if you think it’s too good to be true – well, it is. What passes for support for rights is just another ill-disguised attack on women’s reproductive rights – because rights, when used by conservatives in this country, are always “subtractive” rights. In fact, the only real right this bill grants is the right for rapists to procreate by way of their victims.

That doesn’t sound like progress to me.

This latest personhood gimmick (we’ve seen many of them) claims the “inherent human rights, dignity and worth of all human  beings from the beginning of their biological development as human beings” but its real goal is to make abortion illegal – even in cases of rape or incest (“regardless of the means by which they were procreated”), or fetal anomaly. In other words, just as taking away workers rights somehow supports their rights,  taking away women’s reproductive rights is a promotion of human rights.

Beware of conservatives bearing gifts, as Homer would say:

“The California Human Rights Amendment recognizes the inherent human rights, dignity and worth of all human beings from the beginning of their biological development as human organisms — regardless of the means by which they were procreated, method of reproduction, age, race, sex, gender, physical well-being, function, or condition of physical or mental dependency and/or disability.”

According to the amendment’s author, California Civil Rights Foundation (CCRF) founder and President  Walter B. Hoye II:

“Human personhood is the final chapter of the Civil Rights movement. It proposes commonsense values for otherwise convoluted jurisprudence. From the pre-born child, to the senior citizen facing end of life decisions, to the disabled veteran, we believe all human beings should be protected by love and by law. This is the end game. Personhood is what the Pro-Life movement looks like victorious.”


This deal belongs in the ever-popular Monty Python-ish “every sperm is sacred” Personhood Gimmick Category.

One obvious giveaway is the endorsement of the infamous homophobe Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. This is the same Tony Perkins who blames tolerance and diversity for Republican Mark Foley’s sending of sexually suggestive messages to teenage boys who had served as congressional pages – rather than blaming Mark Foley himself (much in the same way women are guilty of being raped, not the rapist).

Here’s what Tendentious Tony has to say:

Since 1973, over thirty five long years ago, millions upon millions – well over 40,000,000 – babies have been slain under the guise of “choice.”  Choosing death is never a good or acceptable option, and some good people in California have worked hard to give women real choices that favor life.

Other states should draw inspiration from the commitment and perseverance of those behind the California Human Rights Amendment. This is not about party affiliation or ideology.  This is about recognizing the sanctity of human life and citizens’ obligation to enact laws to protect it.  I applaud the cause of the California Human Rights Amendment and praise its supporters for not sitting idly by, and instead, taking action to protect those who cannot defend themselves.[1]

Of course, Tony Perkins notably does NOT support the sanctity of human life when it’s the members of the LGBT community whose rights are at stake. He doesn’t mind them being born but he’ll be damned if he’s going to tolerate them once they are. He is one of the most rabidly homophobic guys around.

According to the American Independent,

Other groups sponsoring CCRF’s personhood efforts are Lila Rose, who has led the movement to abolish Planned Parenthood through her organization Live Action; Bishop Ron Allen, president of the International Faith Based Coalition; Samuel Rodriguez, Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Jason Jones, president of the Human Rights Education and Relief Organization, who also runs an organization called Bella Hero, which distributes “Bella” DVDs to crisis pregnancy centers, mostly to those run by Care-Net and Heartbeat International.

It will be interesting to see how the goals of destroying women’s reproductive rights jibe with the goal of banning the existence of non-heterosexual folks and privileging heterosexual Protestant Christian conservatives. I mean, to any sane person human rights are human rights and you can’t claim you support them at the same time you try to take them away. The only outcome I can see is this: It is okay to condemn people after they’re born but you have to let them be born first. Just like Rick Perry loves live so much he’s willing to kill people to prove it. You gotta love that conservative logic. It’s a weird and wacky world they live in – it’s a shame we’re forced to share it.

No explanation has been offered – of course – as to just how this is going to promote job growth or reduce government spending.

[1] According to, Rick Perry’s claim of 50 million is closer to the mark, though they point out that “an unknown share of the 50 million aborted pregnancies referenced by Perry would not have resulted in live children, due to the natural risk of miscarriages and stillbirths.”

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