Personhood Amendments


My name is Rebecca Kiessling. I am a family law attorney from Michigan and international pro-life speaker. I’ve litigated numerous high-profile cases defending pre-born human life, including the “frozen embryo” case in Michigan — the third of its kind in the U.S. I’m also an adoptee who was conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back-alley abortionists. I write this not only with expertise as a pro-life litigator and activist, but also with a personal stake in the outcome. After all, I’m alive today solely because my life was legally protected in Michigan at the time I was developing in utero. Michigan voters and legislators who were 100% pro-life — no exceptions/no compromise — are my heroes. I owe my life to them and that is why I, in turn, do the same for others.

Therefore, I strongly urge everyone to support Personhood Amendments, which would amend individual states’ constitutions to define “person” as applying pre-born human beings (slightly different language has been proposed from state to state, tailoring the language to the particular state’s constitution.)  Personhood Amendments are critical because the 14th Amendment “due process clause” and “equal protection clause” to the United States Constitution state as follows: “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” The majority opinion of the United States Supreme Court in Roe v Wade, Sec. IX, states, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment.” However, the Court went on to say: “On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.” And then the Court concluded, “In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.”

If a majority of states legally recognize the unborn “as persons in the whole sense,” then the whole Roe v Wade opinion collapses. This is why we must support personhood from state to state!

Additionally, with personhood, there are no “exceptions.” It would be ridiculous to suggest that all unborn children are persons except for children conceived in rape, as the Roe Court pointed out in footnote 54. And just to be clear, many of the proposed Personhood Amendments specifically provide that the term “person” applies irrespective of the method of reproduction.

We’ve been stuck in the desert for nearly 40 years. I’m tired of those who are afraid of the “giants in the land.” Chipping away at abortion has not brought us any closer to ending abortion in our nation. God is not going to honor mediocrity and compromise when it comes to the slaughter of innocent children who He created in His image. I want to have the same spirit of boldness that David and Caleb and Joshua had, recognizing that God is on our side and we don’t need to be afraid. Let’s take this giant out by hitting him where it counts. With this issue, personhood is where it counts, and the opposition knows it.

When you can say that you are pro-life without exception, it’s like saying, “I get it — you matter. Yours was a life worth

saving!” Now I hope you’ll go forth and do the same for others by supporting Personhood Amendments. Let’s get this done.

For life,

Rebecca Kiessling, Esq.


Rebecca’s further comments on Personhood

In the last election (and for quite some time now,) many pro-life people stopped “voting pro-life” because they don’t see any real changes and that’s it’s made any difference. I think that Personhood Amendments will help pro-lifers to realize that this issue is not dead and it’s still worth fighting for, more than ever now with Personhood. The only way to ever get a federal amendment going is to achieve it in a majority of states first. The last time anyone seriously talked about a federal amendment (The Human Life Amendment) was during Reagan’s term, but the truth is that it’s very difficult to get a groundswell for something on a national level like that.

If you go state to state with petition drives (or through the state legislature to get it on the ballot), then people become invested with time, energy, prayers — and their votes. And then they’ll have an expectation that something will be done. If the Supreme Court then rules against state amendments based upon the Supremacy Clause, and still refuses to recognize unborn children as persons under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (even in the face of a majority of states who recognize unborn children as person “in the full legal sense”), then you’re going to have that groundswell from people who have already been organized and feel cheated out of their votes. That’s when the time and circumstances would be ripe to bring a federal amendment, and we should also have more pro-life candidates in office by then because pro-life voters would have been voting pro-life knowing that the issue is not dead, and even more people would begin to vote pro-life.

It also brings the issue of the protection of pre-born human to the forefront of public debate, and I believe that when it’s debated, when people are educated, the pro-life cause wins.

Additionally, I believe that most pro-lifers would agree that we don’t just want to see Roe v Wade overturned merely on the grounds that the Roe Court (and Griswold Court) erred in finding a fundamental right to privacy under the U.S. Constitution and a fundamental right to an abortion out of that reasoning, only to then toss the issue to the states to decide whether to protect unborn children, but we want to see unborn children recognized as persons under the 14th Amendment so that their right to life will be protected.  And even if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v Wade on that sort of narrow basis, denying personhood under the U.S. Constitution, we want to have Personhood Amendments in place at the state level so that the issue is already settled in order to avoid pandemonium with various petitions and laws being proposed all over the place legalizing abortion with various standards and exceptions, and banning abortion with various standards and exceptions.  Ed Rivet, the lobbyist for Right to Life of Michigan, wrote a memorandum of law, “The Status of Abortion in Michigan When Roe Falls,” which painted the perfect picture as to why now is the time to act!

I want to afford others the same protection that I received. I’m not just going to say, “Oh well, at least my life was spared,” and then be satisfied with mediocrity while millions of others who are similarly-situated are not afforded legal protection. I’m fighting for legal protection for others and Personhood is the only way it will ultimately happen. Even if we get a majority of pro-life justices on the Supreme Court, in order to find a right to life/due process/equal protection, personhood needs to be recognized under at least a majority of the laws of this country. And that’s part of what Personhood Amendments state-by-state achieve. You need to know the legal background, but once you do, it’s common sense.

Someone recently asked me, “Where does the (personhood) amendment state that no abortion may be permitted when and where deemed ‘necessary’? Where does the amendment protect against ‘exceptions’ even if elective abortions are not permitted? Who would decide what those exceptions would be and when they would occur?”

Just because the Federal and state constitutions don’t mention “murder” per se doesn’t mean that it’d be perfectly legal and constitutional for us to be murdered. What the Bill of Rights — 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution says (and what state constitutions basically mirror) is that “no person shall be deprived of their right to life . . . without due process of law” and that “persons shall be entitled to equal protection under the law.” This is Law 101. What this language means, is that the government would have to ensure that we are all legally protected by passing homicide laws and/or through the Common Law. So just because the Bill of Rights doesn’t specifically mention murder, homicide or abortion, doesn’t mean that we’re not fully protected as a result. Homicide laws exist BECAUSE OF the 14th Amendment. Abortion laws will exist BECAUSE OF personhood amendments, which will make clear that the 14th Amendment and state constitutions’ right to not to be deprived of life and equal protections provisions apply to all persons, from the moment of fertilization.

If you have any other questions, please let me know and I’ll add to this.

~ Rebecca Kiessling, Pro-Life Attorney/Activist