The NRAA: A Practical Alternative to Personhood Amendments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

On November 3rd, Louisianians amended their state constitution with this language: “To protect human life, nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.” 

Amendments to regulate abortion are not new, but this kind of No Right to Abortion amendment (NRAA) is unique since it limits the way a state constitution can be interpreted on abortion rights. The NRAA is different from a personhood amendment, which defines ‘person’ to include humans regardless of stage of development. In this article, I will explain what the NRAA does and why we should want one in every state constitution.

A Brief History of the NRAA

In 2013, 70% of Americans opposed overturning Roe v. Wade. At that time, however, only 62% of Americans knew that Roe dealt with abortion. As of 2017, public opinion on overturning Roe remains unchanged. With the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, the hope (or fear) that Roe might be overturned or reversed has grown. Pro-life and pro-choice activists have both instigated legislation to prepare for the possibility of a post-Roe America.

Supreme Court building

Examining Thomson’s Views on Fetal Personhood

Acorns in ladies hands

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Published in 1971, Judith Jarvis Thomson’s A Defense of Abortion is now a classic in contemporary philosophy. She presents nuanced yet controversial conclusions on abortion from creative thought experiments, most notably the violinist scenario. While many have critiqued and defended Thomson’s violinist, I want to examine her views on fetal personhood.

Thomson used an acorn analogy to explain why she did not think human fetuses were persons. I still remember the first time I read her article in my Philosophy 101 class. When my philosophy professor asked for our thoughts on her acorn analogy, I did not know what to say; I was stumped.

In this article I will show why Thomson’s acorn analogy is faulty and fails to refute the fetal personhood view, even though it does work against one bad pro-life argument.