The "personhood movement" has recently grown legs in Wisconsin, where state Rep. Andre Jacque (2nd Assembly District) has promised to introduce a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would change the definition of a person to include "preborn" babies. The intended effect of "personhood" amendments is to criminalize abortion; many critics say such laws could also criminalize some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization.
In a YouTube video (embedded below) on the recently launched website of Personhood Wisconsin -- affiliated with Pro-Life Wisconsin and Personhood USA -- Jacque explains that his state's constitution is flawed because in order to have access to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Wisconsinites must first be born.
"What this simply does is takes out that requirement that you be born to have these inalienable rights that I think we all should enjoy as human beings. Unfortunately, if you take a look at the possibilities of Roe v. Wade being overturned, we would not have constitutional protection for the unborn in Wisconsin. And that’s why I feel that short of having this change in the constitution and putting it before the voters, there will be the ability for an activist Wisconsin state Supreme Court to deny rights to people that clearly should have that kind of protection – all people, every person at all stages of development.
It really is something where if you take a look at the statute that we already have on the books here in Wisconsin, in terms of prohibiting abortion, that could be stripped away, and it’s important that we find a way to restore that guarantee to all Wisconsin citizens that their human dignity will be respected from the movement of conception until natural death."
According to Personhood Wisconsin, the amendment is "currently in drafting" but will be introduced this month. This week Personhood Wisconsin unveiled a billboard advertising the to-be-proposed amendment with pictures of humans at different stages of development and an all-caps message on the billboard reading: "YOU. ME. EVERYBODY. WE'RE ALL JUST GROWN-UP EMBRYOS."
The billboard was designed by Youth Defence, an anti-abortion-rights media group based in Dublin, Ireland, and is sponsored by Pro-Life Wisconsin, 40 Days for Life of Green Bay, Personhood USA and Youth Defence. According to Pro-Life Wisconsin, it is currently located on Highway 41, south of Green Bay, but will move to a different location in Green Bay every three months.
"Demonstrating that at one point, all of us were just embryos, the personhood message is one we can all identify with," said Pro-Life Wisconsin spokesperson Virginia Zignego in a statement.
In November, Mississippians will vote on whether to add a "personhood" amendment to their state constitution. Though there are similar amendments being pushed throughout the country, a national "personhood" amendment seems unlikely, for now.
As American Independent sister site The Florida Independent noted recently, Personhood USA is trying to pressure GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney to support Mississippi's "personhood" amendment, in response to statements he made last month, saying he did not support using the Fourth Amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade because it could lead to a “constitutional crisis."
Romney is not the only presidential candidate having trouble supporting the "personhood" movement at the national level. Herman Cain made headlines this week after stating on national television that he opposes abortion in all instances -- even in cases of rape and incest -- but also that "it’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision."
Watch Wisconsin state Rep. Andre Jacque explain his state's need for a "personhood" amendment: