Five GOP presidential candidates — Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and more recently, Ron Paul — have signed a pledge drafted by Personhood USA in which the candidates promise to support a Constitutional amendment and federal legislation imposing "personhood" laws. Personhood USA seeks to "glorify Jesus Christ in a way that creates a culture of life so that all innocent human lives are protected by love and by law."
The personhood legislation will recognize zygotes as human beings having constitutional rights and ban assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and "procedures that intentionally destroy developing human beings." Critics of the so-called personhood amendments point to their potential to ban common forms of birth control. While personhood advocates claim that a potential ban on birth control is a lie promulgated by Planned Parenthood and people who support abortion, Personhood USA's spokesman, Walter Hoyeman, admitted to NPR last October that women's abilities to use IUDs and birth control pills would be impacted by personhood legislation.
Personhood amendments, which contain no exceptions, will force women impregnated through rape or incest to carry the fetus to term and will also force them to carry to term fetuses that have severe medical conditions that make the fetus unviable, such as in the case of Danielle Deaver, a Christian woman in Nevada who, because of the state's new anti-abortion laws, was forced to suffer for six days earlier this year to deliver a baby that died shortly after birth.
Personhood USA's pledge reads:
I __________________ proclaim that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God, and is endowed by our Creator with the unalienable right to life.
I stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.”
I believe that in order to properly protect the right to life of the vulnerable among us, every human being at every stage of development must be recognized as a person possessing the right to life in federal and state laws without exception and without compromise. I recognize that in cases where a mother’s life is at risk, every effort should be made to save the baby’s life as well; leaving the death of an innocent child as an unintended tragedy rather than an intentional killing.
I oppose assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and procedures that intentionally destroy developing human beings.
I pledge to the American people that I will defend all innocent human life. Abortion and the intentional killing of an innocent human being are always wrong and should be prohibited.
If elected President, I will work to advance state and federal laws and amendments that recognize the unalienable right to life of all human beings as persons at every stage of development, and to the best of my knowledge, I will only appoint federal judges and relevant officials who will uphold and enforce state and federal laws recognizing that all human beings at every stage of development are persons with the unalienable right to life.
Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann and Perry have all touted their Christian faith as the root for their socially conservative values. Paul has been characterized as "the champion of liberty" and is also Christian according to his campaign website. When he ended his presidential campaign in 2008, he endorsed Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party's candidate. The Constitution Party endorses a Christian theocracy based on Biblical text, stating in its platform:
The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.
This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.
Editorial note — See Paul's qualifying letter, linked in the trackbacks below re: Conservatives fretting over Ron Paul.