Repealing Roe Is Only The First Step—“Personhood” Laws Are Next

WASHINGTON – An alarming rise in “personhood” laws – including a new focus on beyond-the-pale criminal prosecution of pregnant women- is opening up a dangerous new front in the far-right’s attack on reproductive rights.  As an editorial series in the New York Times described:

“These criminal statutes are results of a tried-and-true playbook, part of a strategic campaign to establish fetal rights, reverse Roe v. Wade and recriminalize abortion. The sequence begins with anti-abortion groups seizing upon a tragic case in which a woman loses her pregnancy because of someone else’s actions. Public outcry then helps to strengthen a state feticide law that recognizes such lost pregnancies as murder or manslaughter. It’s a backdoor way of legally defining when life begins.”

Some activists behind fetal protection laws see them as a vehicle for overturning Roe v. Wade.  With Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, rulings that strike down Roe and prop up “personhood” laws could be just around the corner.

It is beyond irony that Donald Trump and his allies in the states fiercely oppose an Equal Rights Amendment for women, and now want to shred our Constitution to grant personhood status to the fetus.

The National Organization for Women has always been on the front lines of defending women’s rights, including abortion rights, and in empowering women to protect themselves from institutions and powerful elites that seek to oppress and discriminate against us. NOW will continue to oppose laws and policies that elevate a constitutionally indefensible notion of fetal personhood and threaten the health and dignity of women.

Contact: NOW Press,, 202-628-8669