A Case for the Ohio Personhood Amendment

by Patrick Johnston, D.O.


What is the Ohio Personhood Amendment?

Article 1, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution states, "All men are, by nature, free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety."

Article 1, Section 16 states, "All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his land, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law, and shall have justice administered without denial or delay."

The Ohio Personhood Amendment will insert Section 16(b):

"Person" and "men" defined:
(A) The words "person" in Article 1, Section 16, and "men" in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.

(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human "eggs" or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.

Restoring "Personhood" to Those Unlawfully Deprived of It

Our American forefathers stated in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

You have the right to life and liberty because you are created "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:26-27). Not because you are wanted, not because you are fully developed, not because of your size, not because of the circumstances surrounding your conception, and not because of where you live - your rights come from God. You possess these rights by virtue of His law which forbids others to assault you, steal from you, or kill you. Moreover, your God-given rights are inalienable; that is, irrevocable except for punishment for a crime.

When precisely were you "created in the image of God"? When did your life begin? When did you first have the right to live?

Scientific Fact Proves When Human Life Begins

There is a tremendous consensus in the scientific community about when life begins. This is hardly controversial. If the claim were made that life was discovered on another planet, for example, there are well-defined criteria to which we could refer to conclusively determine whether the claim was accurate.

A scientific textbook called "The Basics of Biology" gives five characteristics of living things; these five criteria are found in all modern elementary scientific textbooks.

  1. Living things are highly organized.
  2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.
  3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.
  4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.
  5. All living things have an ability to adapt.

According to this elementary definition of life, life begins at fertilization; from this moment, the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity the being has the potential to reproduce other members of the species.) At the moment of fertilization, we are 100% human, alive, sexed, moving, and growing. Non-living things do not do these things. We are all just embryos grown up.
Even before the mother is aware that she is pregnant, a distinct, unique life has begun his or her existence inside her.

Furthermore, that life is unquestionably human. A human being is a member of the species homo sapiens. Human beings are products of conception. When human beings procreate, they don't make non-human animals or plants; human beings are products of human conception.

Biologically, from the moment of conception, the new human being is not a part of the mother's body. Since when does a reproductively mature woman's body have male genitals, two brains, or four kidneys? The preborn human being may be dependent upon the mother for nutrition; however, this is not a capital crime.

At the average time when a woman is aware that she is pregnant (the fifth to sixth week after conception), the preborn human being living inside her is metabolizing nutrition, excreting waste, sucking his or her thumb, growing, and doing many other things that non-living things do not do. As early as twenty-one days after conception, the baby's heart has begun to beat his or her own unique blood type. The baby's blood type is often different than the mother's and may even be toxic to the mother's system. (Moore & Persaud, The Developing Human, p. 310; Nilsson & Hamberger, A Child is Born, p. 86; Rugh & Shettles, From Conception to Birth, p. 217.)

Take heed to these quotes from these famous scientists:

The "Father of Modern Genetics" Dr. Jerome Lejeune, Univ. of Descarte, Paris: "To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion - it is plain experimental evidence."

Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic: "By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."

The Bible Proves When Life Begins

It is a verifiable fact of the Holy Bible that life begins in the womb. The Bible confirms repeatedly that a woman is pregnant with a "child" - not "products of conception", not "a blob of tissue". In Genesis 25, Rebekah's "children" struggled within her. In Psalm 139, the inspired writer insists that he existed in his mother's womb - not a non-living, non-human "product of conception" that became him later on. Pregnant women were considered "great with child", and Jesus' mother Mary was found "with child of the Holy Ghost."

Some have argued that since Adam did not begin to live until God breathed life into his nostrils, then therefore no one begins to live until they breathe air. However, God created Adam differently than he created the rest of humanity. He created Adam as an adult without a mother or a human father. The circumstances of his creation have no bearing on the creation of his posterity. Moreover, although children in the womb do not breathe air into their lungs, they do require air to survive, and that air is diffused in their bloodstream from the air in the mother's lungs.

One of the most convincing passages proving that the preborn had full human status is found in Exodus 21:22-24. The passage says that if a man carelessly injures a pregnant woman and she has a premature delivery, yet no lasting harm follows to the mother or the child, he shall be punished for his carelessness as the judges determine. However, if the mother or child are injured or killed, then "life for life." God mandates the same civil penalty for those who would kill the preborn as for those who would kill the born: "life for life." Preborn human beings are children to God, and the intentional killing of innocent human beings at any stage of existence is unlawful and criminal - His Word is clear.

In light of this, it becomes obvious that we have committed a great travesty against the weakest and most helpless members of the human family - the preborn. Twenty-five thousand innocent children die in Ohio every year by abortion. In this, as in all state-sponsored genocides throughout history, society first dehumanizes the victims before genocide can be committed against them. Thus, one of the first steps to protect the preborn and end the Abortion Holocaust is to inscribe into state law that which science, reason, and biblical truth affirms: that personhood begins at the beginning of our biological development, or at fertilization. Children in the womb are recipients of the God-given, inalienable right to life and liberty. It is the mission of Personhood Ohio to restore the God-given right to life and liberty to all Ohioans, and to secure "justice for all."

The Supreme Court Agrees that the Personhood Strategy Would Protect the Preborn Nationwide

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that decriminalized abortion in all fifty states, Justice Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion, admitted that "if the 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 (Fourteenth) Amendment."

How do we establish personhood? Let us declare it the law of Ohio, and if challenged, defend it with scientific fact. If we declare that for the purposes of state law, children in the womb are "persons", then the guarantee of the right to life and liberty in our Ohio Constitution and in the U.S. Constitution applies.

The Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution states, "No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, except through due process of law." The Fourteenth Amendment says, "No state shall... 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."

In 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall acknowledged, "Any law repugnant (or repulsive) to the Constitution is void."

Roe v. Wade is null and void, not worth the paper it is written on. It is contrary to the state and federal constitutions and is contrary to divine law. Armed with truth and faith, the Personhood strategy will defeat this unlawful judicial decision.

Distinguishing Between Law and Lawlessness

"Roe v. Wade is the law of the land," I heard someone say.

I responded, "You're confusing law and lawlessness. Roe v. Wade and decriminalized abortion is thelawlessness of the land."

In the colonial era, it was easy for a Caucasian man to take for granted that he could go to the law if he had been assaulted or mistreated. But what could the kidnapped African slave do? In Hitler's Germany, it was easy for a Gentile to take for granted that he could go to the courts for justice if he had been abused or exploited. But what could the German Jew do? When a dehumanized minority is abused and killed by the majority, what is their recourse? If might makes right, or if the will of the majority defines morality, how can there be any human rights whatsoever for the weak and helpless? When the lawmakers become the lawbreakers, when the justice system becomes an injustice system, when our leaders defy the Creator in denying God-given rights to people made in God's image, we must turn to the words of the Lawmaker and Judge of higher rank than they. We must return to the standard that trumps all counterfeits - the law of God.

Who, after all, is the final Judge? When men call good evil and evil good, and when the laws of man and God contradict, who is right? When civil authorities dictate that innocent people may be killed without penalty, the God who penned in tablets of stone "Thou shalt not murder" overrules them. Truly, Jesus reigns over all as "King of kings and Lord of lords." Human judges are not permitted to rebel against divine law (Psalm 2).

It is not lawful and never can be lawful to intentionally kill an innocent human being, all the attempts of sinful man to legalize it and regulate it notwithstanding. Ohio respects Roe v. Wade insofar as we defy divine law. We only respect the Supreme Court's unlawful dictates insofar as we defy the Judge of the all the earth. God's commandment "Thou shalt not murder" has not been amended to accommodate for the abortion of inconvenient children.

Ohio has the right and obligation to protect innocent Ohioans within our jurisdiction. The Ohio Personhood Amendment restores the foundation of law and justice for all in our state, and is compatible with divine law.

Identifying the Smoke and Mirrors Arguments of the Abortion Advocates

The subject of personhood terrifies our pro-abortion foes because they know that in order to even have the debate as to whether human embryos and human fetuses have the right to life, we must consult scientific fact. The insincere, smoke and mirrors arguments spewed by the proponents of abortion cannot withstand the cross-examination of scientific facts.

This debate is not primarily about:

  1. Personal autonomy - "I have a right to my own personal choices."
  2. Women's rights - "I have a right to do what I want with my own body."
  3. What's most beneficial for women - "An abortion of an unwanted pregnancy is best for my career, my relationship, my well-being, etc." or "An abortion of my pregnancy caused me great emotional distress and illness."
  4. The right to privacy
  5. Subjective and arbitrary calculations on the value or quality of another human life
  6. Hormonal contraception

As proof, I offer the following argument: If someone were to argue that they have a right to terminate their one-day-old infant because "I have a right to my own personal choice" or "This will help my career and improve my health" or "It's unwanted and unloved" or "I have a right to privacy," how would you respond? Who would concur with these justifications for terminating a one-day-old infant?

If we were convinced that, in fact, the human being in the womb is just as alive as the infant whose life you would defend, then we would not accept these justifications for aborting human beings in the womb any more than we would accept them for aborting one-day-old infants. This proves that the question to which we must give our attention is "When does a human being's life begin?" Issues of personal autonomy, women's rights, privacy rights, and pragmatic considerations are "smoke and mirrors," distractions from the real issue.

In testimonies before state legislative committees on this subject, you will frequently hear abortion advocates try to argue that legislation that granted the right to life for preborn children would threaten hormonal contraception. This is a puff of smoke that cannot withstand cross-examination. Contraception, by definition, prevents conception. Ohio's Personhood Amendment grants personhood rights when personhood begins, which is after fertilization (conception). If a hormonal "contraceptive" acts to prevent pregnancy after conception, it acts not as a contraceptive, but rather, causes an abortion. The Ohio Personhood Amendment would not affect genuine contraception at all.

You will also hear abortion advocates warn that Personhood legislation would threaten reproductive technology such as IVF (in vitro fertilization). The refutation of that nonsense is as simple as reading our proposed amendment. The creation of human embryos would not be affected at all by the Ohio Personhood Amendment, only the killing of human embryos.

False Remedies that Perpetuate the Holocaust

For many years conservatives have thought that if we could incrementally use the power of legislation to decrease the number of abortions, then we would do well. However, we should never give permission to kill an innocent person if the abortionist meets certain conditions or the mother meets certain exceptions, for this violates God's law. Even if the pregnant woman waits twenty-four hours, even if she undergoes a mandatory ultrasound, even if she is informed that her fetus can feel pain, even if she is forbidden to get a partial birth abortion procedure, even if she has been raped, even if she is unhealthy, she still should be disallowed from killing her baby. If we permit her to kill her baby after jumping through our regulatory hoops, then we become guilty of permitting what God forbids. Our attempt to regulate abortions has made us responsible for the slaughter our legislation justifies, and intensifies rather than abates the wrath of God against us for the shedding of innocent blood.

Regulating the child-killing has been the strategy of many pro-life organizations in Ohio. One popular bill in 2011 actually permits the unconstitutional and immoral killing of innocent children in many situations, which is never justifiable. This popular bill does not criminalize the killing of children at all as long as the physician does not document a heartbeat in the medical record. Even if such a law were to overturn Roe v. Wade, it does not protect the God-given rights of all preborn children; we must still have a law like the Personhood Amendment, which will extend the protection of the Ohio Constitution to all preborn children.

For many years, conservatives have thought that if we could appoint enough "strict constructivist" judges to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, then that will repair the breach in our justice system and protect the innocent. But our Republican "pro-life" Presidents keep appointing pro-abortion candidates to the bench! Five of the seven Supreme Court justices who held the majority opinion in Roe v. Wadewere appointed by Republicans! Even G.W. Bush's last appointment, Sam Alito, when he was a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals, ruled New Jersey's Partial Birth Abortion Ban unconstitutional, and cited Roe v. Wadeapprovingly in the process. With "pro-lifers" like Alito, who needs pro-choicers?

For decades, Christians have thought that if we could just preach the Gospel and win the hearts of enough people, then abortion will end. Yes, we must preach the Gospel and offer help to women in crisis pregnancies, but the Bible states that all will not believe the Gospel, and if we allow people to kill their children without penalty, then our nation will face divine judgment and our children and grandchildren may lose their freedoms. Civil law was designed by God to restrain the selfish and protect the innocent, and it is the obligation of civil rulers to be a "terror" to evil works, and to be "a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (I Timothy 1:8-11, Romans 1:1-7). We are not loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are not being "Good Samaritans" to the helpless afflicted, if we tolerate their discrimination and slaughter. For the love of God, we must pursue justice for the innocent.

Why Ohio?

Ohio is famous for our advocacy in protecting African American slaves in the colonial era. An infamous Supreme Court decision in 1857 declared that the runaway slave Dred Scott was "property" and not a "person", and should therefore be returned to his southern master. Many Ohioans defied this immoral, unconstitutional Supreme Court decision and hid runaway slaves from their slave-masters and the federal government. Ohioans transported slaves in the "Underground railroad" to Canada, where the law protected them.

It's time once again for a new generation of advocates of life and liberty to rise to the occasion and resist federal tyranny and protect the God-given right to life of every Ohioan.

Another reason Ohio is a great state to work for a Personhood Amendment is that Ohio does not have a deadline for gathering signatures. If we had a deadline like Montana does, and if we fell a few thousand signatures short like Montana did a couple of years ago, we would have to start all over. But we can take years if necessary to gather all of the signatures, and they all count to our goal of 380,000 valid Ohio signatures. Of course, I believe that we can do it in record timing, and get it on the ballot for 2012. Agree with me in prayer for that. Ohio kills about 25,000 children annually through abortion, and we want them to be protected as soon as possible.

A Warning for Ohio

The Bible is clear that God's curse resides upon the land where innocent people are killed without justice. (See Numbers 35:30-34, Jeremiah 18:7-10, Proverbs 6:16-17, Psalm 9:17, Jeremiah 7:5-7, Isaiah 1:15-17.) God is longsuffering, but sooner or later, judgment will fall on a land that sheds innocent blood.

Numbers 35:30-34 tells us that when innocent blood is shed in the land, the land is "defiled" and "polluted" and only justice can cleanse it. In Deuteronomy 21:1-9, we are taught that the curse of innocent blood falls upon the community nearest the crime. This curse can only be lifted through the dissemination of justice. It is the local community where the assault has been committed that is ultimately responsible for punishing assailants to protect the innocent.

Ultimately, Ohioans have no business pointing our fingers at the Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress, or the abortion advocates entrenched in political parties for the shedding of innocent blood that Ohio allows. The federal government's jurisdiction is limited by the Constitution, which only grants the feds jurisdiction over three crimes: piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. Criminal justice is a local matter. God's wrath abides onOhio for the innocent blood that has been shed in our state, and God obligates Ohio to do justice to protect the innocent from assault and murder, and thereby purge our land from the guilt of innocent blood. Until there is justice for the preborn, there will be no lasting mercy for us.

Those Who Do Not Learn from History Are Bound to Repeat It

In 1857, the Supreme Court declared that an African American slave named Dred Scott was not a man, but the property of his owner. Over two million slaves perished on the ships headed for American ports. Millions were brutalized under the American slave trade. What followed soon after the 1857 Supreme Court decision was a Civil War that resulted in the deaths of 620,000 American lives.

The Nuremberg Laws were passed in Germany in 1935, declaring Jews to be non-persons. By the end of World War 2 in 1945, 6.5 to 8.8 million German civilians and soldiers had been killed in combat.

When Israel began to sacrifice innocent children to idols under King Manasseh, God promised judgment was coming. God was longsuffering, but within four generations of Manasseh, judgment finally came. Assyria conquered the Jews, slaughtered most of them, and carried off the survivors in chains to a life of slavery. Isaiah told them why: "Your hands are full of blood" and their cities were full of "murderers" (Isaiah 1:15, 21). Jeremiah told them why: they filled their land with "the blood of innocents" (Jeremiah 2:24 & 19:4). Hosea told them why: they were "polluted with blood" (Hosea 6:8). Joel told them why: "They have shed innocent blood in their land" (Joel 3:19). Ezekiel told them why: "Thou art become guilty in the blood that thou hast shed (Ezekiel 22:24). They continued to "slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live" (Ezekiel 13:19).

God promises judgment upon every nation that sins against him (Jeremiah 18:7-10; Psalm 9:17). For every two children conceived in Ohio, one is aborted. Almost half a million Ohioans have been slaughtered in Ohio's abortion clinics the first decade of this century.

Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

The Ohio Personhood Amendment: The Remedy

Ohio is not alone in attempts to establish Personhood for the preborn at the state level. Many states have ethical abortion bans in their legislatures or they are presently gathering signatures for a ballot initiative to amend their state constitution. Colorado has gathered enough signatures to put their Personhood Amendment on the ballot twice, where it was voted down. Mississippi put it on the ballot and it will be voted on in November of 2011. Please pray that it passes. Florida, Nevada, Montana, California, and other states are gathering signatures to put a Personhood Amendment on their ballot.

We must submit over 380,000 signatures of Ohio voters to put the Amendment on the ballot for a vote. We need your help gathering signatures. We need your help in recruiting signature-gatherers. If you are unable to gather signatures, your donations could help us hire signature-gatherers. We need your help getting into your church and make an announcement about our campaign and persuade others to join in this battle for love and justice.

You may print off the form to gather signatures by clicking here. Please read the instructions carefully before you begin. Please mail the completed forms to:

Patrick Johnston
Director, Personhood Ohio
5063 Dresden Court
Zanesville, Ohio 43701

Please don't put it off. We need your help now. Indeed, the preborn, the smallest, most helpless assault victims in our state need your help. God Almighty, the father of the slaughtered fatherless, requests yourhelp. With God's help, we will protect the innocent preborn in Ohio from slaughter. We will love our preborn neighbor as we love ourselves. Check out these powerful passages from God's Word.

"Open thy mouth for the dumb (those who can't speak for themselves) in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy" (Proverbs 31:8-9).

"How long will you judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy: rid them out of the hands of the wicked" (Psalm 82:3-4).

"If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?" (Proverbs 24:10-12).

What You Can Do

"With God, all things are possible." Ohio's state motto

First and foremost, pray and trust God for justice for the preborn in Ohio. Just as God's legislation transcends man's and Satan's, so does God's power. It says in the Bible that He gives us the tools to fight and achieve victory against the enemy (Ephesians 6:12-18). God says that He will answer the prayers of His people, if we pray according to His will in faith. Jesus said, "It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Matthew 18:14). Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. Our faith in Him is the victory that overcomes the world. Jesus said, "With God, all things are possible." Abortion will come to an end in our land if God's people will take a stand and prayerfully do His will, trusting God's power to come to their aid. He is looking for a faithful people who will unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit and courageously do right. Will you be one?

Help us by talking about the Ohio Personhood Amendment and speaking out against the evil of abortion in Ohio. Help us by calling our state to repentance for shedding innocent blood. Help us by getting signatures for our campaign to get the Ohio Personhood Amendment on the ballot. Help us by getting others to help gather signatures. Help us by getting quotes from professionals and politicians giving the Ohio Personhood Amendment their endorsement (we'll have a page on our website soon with endorsements). Help us by asking your pastor to make an announcement about our campaign and then gathering signatures after the service. Help us with donations - no one on the Ohio Personhood board gets a salary or makes a dime. All of your gifts go to getting signatures to get the Amendment on the ballot and getting it passed.

Thank you for your prayers and your help,
Patrick Johnston, D.O.
Zanesville, Ohio.