QUESTION: Do you believe that there should be any legal exceptions for rape or incest when it comes to abortion?And in doing so, in using the word "person," Rick's blowing a dog whistle to the anti-choice crowd he's hoping would support him in his presidential race.
SANTORUM: I believe that life begins at conception, and that that life should be guaranteed under the Constitution. That is a person. [Emphasis added.]
QUESTION: So even in the case of rape or incest, that would be taking a life?
SANTORUM: That would be taking a life, and I believe that any doctor that performs an abortion, I would advocate that any doctor that performs an abortion, should be criminally charged for doing so.
Not that his anti-choice position was much of a secret. He recently debated Rev Al Sharpton on this topic in the philosophically friendly confines of the Sean Hannity show. In doing so, he brought up a hitherto unknown (at least to me) racial position on choice/personhood:
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, perennially a potential Presidential candidate, is not going on the defensive for his recent comment that President Barack Obama’s stance on abortion was particularly shocking based on his race. In fact, he is so sure of his position that he was willing to defend it in the face of one of America’s loudest race crusaders, Rev. Al Sharpton. Sean Hannity gave the a couple of segment on his show tonight, popped the proverbial popcorn, and let the games begin.But this is a good opportunity to take a look at the "personhood" legislation oozing through some state legislatures. NARAL has a definition:
Members of the anti-choice “personhood” movement are launching a comprehensive assault on reproductive rights at the state level through legislation and ballot initiatives. These measures attempt to redefine "personhood" either by creating a legal definition for when life begins or by conferring legal rights upon a fertilized egg. In addition to outlawing abortion, these efforts could lead to bans on many common forms of birth control, and on stem-cell research and invitro fertilization.On the "What is Personhood?" page of the PersonhoodUSA webpage, we see something familiar. After giving their definition of "personhood" (which more or less matches NARAL's) they explain:
By doing so, these proposals are designed to challenge Roe and eliminate the constitutional rights recognized therein. According to the anti-choice group Personhood USA, which claims operations in at least 30 states, “the common thread among all of these efforts is the goal to fill what is becoming known as the ‘Blackmun Hole’ in Roe v. Wade. This is where Justice Blackmun implied in the Roe v. Wade decision that if the case were established that the pre-born was a person, the argument for abortion collapses.”
A person, simply put, is a human being. This fact should be enough. The intrinsic humanity of unborn children, by definition, makes them persons and should, therefore, guarantee their protection under the law. For more than thirty years, however, this has not been the case. The situation we are left with is this. In America today, there is a huge and singular group of living human beings who have no protection under the law and are being killed en masse every day. Is that not astounding?! It is astounding, but not wholly unprecedented.Unfortunately, Thinkprogress points out:
There have been at least two other instances in American history in which specific groups of human beings were stripped of their rights of personhood as a means of justifying their horrible mistreatment. African-Americans and Native-Americans both felt the brunt of a system which denied their humanity, stripped their personhood and subjected them to horrors beyond measure. While the legal framework that made such injustice possible has now been removed, it remains firmly in place for unborn Americans.
Moreover, Santorum’s position that the Constitution compels laws protecting fetuses places him at odds with the Supreme Court’s most conservative members. In DeShanney v. Winnebago County, the Supreme Court held that the Constitution’s guarantee that no person shall be denied “life . . . without due process of law” does not actually require the government to criminalize anything — a decision that runs directly counter to Santorum’s position on abortion. Justice Antonin Scalia, who has gone so far as to say that the Constitution does not prevent gender discrimination, was in the majority in DeShanney.Personhood Legislation could also, NARAL asserts, ban contraception. It would ban abortions for rape and incest and if Rick Santorum who supports "Personhod" had his way, criminalize the doctors performing them.
Tell me again what his chances are for actually winning?