The theory of a fetus as a legal person has become the framework of anti-abortion states and was highlighted in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs, creating a path for a fetal right to life argument under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Anti-abortion activists ignore the consequences of granting fertilized eggs constitutional rights, but a full range of radical implications exist. Fetal personhood changes the legal rights and status of pregnant people and forces them to forfeit their own personhood. The words of an anti-abortion voter perfectly capture this: “I understand women saying, ‘I need to control my own body,’ but once you have another body in there, that’s their body.”
Read Pregnancy Justice’s first-of-its-kind issue brief detailing the personhood movement, its legal doctrine, applications, implications, constitutional and statutory interpretation arguments against personhood measures, and practical legislative recommendations for policymakers and related disciplines.