Following the Supreme Court's decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, pro-life groups are focused on creating laws that grant fetuses the same legal rights and protections as any person.
"So-called fetal personhood laws would make abortion murder, ruling out all or most of the exceptions for abortion allowed in states that already ban it," The New York Times reported Sunday.
Pro-life groups hope that going that route will establish a federal ban on abortion through legislation or another Supreme Court decision.
"Personhood has always been the ultimate ambition of the anti-abortion movement," University of California, Davis professor Mary Ziegler, historian of abortion, told the Times.
"The movement very much wants a declaration that abortion is a human rights and constitutional rights violation. Not just that it's a crime; that it's unconstitutional. From a symbolic standpoint, that's a really big deal to a lot of people in the movement."
The Supreme Court on June 24 overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling creating a constitutional right to an abortion.
In a 6-3 decision, the court upheld a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, that the Constitution does not enshrine a right to an abortion, and that the issue belongs with the states.
The Times said that simply returning the regulation of abortion to the states never was enough for pro-life supporters.
"Life begins at conception, and this bill is a straightforward first step towards updating our federal laws to reflect that fact," Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said in proposing the Unborn Child Support Act in Congress last month.
The Roe decision had prohibited states from banning abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, which is now around 23 or 24 weeks.
The justices, identifying a right to abortion in the Fourteenth Amendment, declared that the word "person" in that amendment did "not include the unborn."
Pro-life groups, however, believe that "person" did include the unborn.
In 1980, the Republican Party platform first included support for a "human life amendment" that would "restore protection of the right to life for unborn children."
Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate have introduced legislation that would establish a right to child support for fetuses beginning at conception.
In Georgia, a fetus now qualifies for tax credits and child support, and is to be included in population counts and redistricting.
Still, state Right to Life groups are petitioning GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Ga., to call a special legislative session to pass a fetal personhood amendment to the state constitution. Doing so would eliminate any exceptions for abortion allowed in the law, by declaring a "paramount right to life of all human beings as persons at any stage of development from fertilization to natural death," the Times reported.
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