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Betrayal Trauma: Dehumanizing the Vulnerable

By Walter Hoye II

“The term ‘nonperson‘ has emerged as the most far reaching and disastrous epithet ever invoked to devalue human life in the womb. When the United Sates Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (1973) declared that ‘the word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn,’ it sounded the legalized death knell for huge numbers of unborn humans.” — William Brennan, Ph.D., Professor of Social Work in the Saint Louis University School of Social Work. 

Personhood is The Final Chapter In The Civil Rights Movement and is exactly what the Pro-Life movement looks like victorious. Personhood is the only Pro-Life strategy that does not embrace exceptions.

The California Civil Rights Foundation has run three (3) statewide campaigns to recognize the rights of every human being in the State of California. Click here for more information on our “California Equal Rights Amendment” campaign.

Personhood allows the discussion to focus on life instead of death and is a powerful and effective strategy for communicating life in communities of color. In the classroom of race-based oppression, minority communities share a very painful history of lessons learned at the ultimate expense of life itself in this country. 

Because we’ve “been there” … we understand what it is like not to be a person and know exactly where the term “nonperson” leads to. Personhood is rooted in truth. “Momma is with child” and only this simple truth has the power to triumphantly contend with those hiding behind socially impeccable auspices such as the Pulpit, the Bench or the Resolute Desk. Personhood affords us the opportunity to address how words have been used historically to justify the vilest crimes against humanity. Personhood reminds the public that malevolent and wormwooded words fuel violent human behavior. By design, Personhood replaces the lexicon of dehumanization with what Dr. Brennan calls a “nomenclature of life-affirming and exalted portrayals of all human beings despite their status, condition, stage of development, gender, race, age or place of residence.” 8 

If the goal of the Fourteenth Amendment was to give legal effect to the Civil Rights Bill of 1866, 9 then the goal of Personhood is to give legal effect to a definition of Person that includes all human beings, regardless of how we were procreated, from the preborn, to the senior citizen facing end of life decisions, to the disabled war veteran. 10 Just as the U.S. Congress felt it needful to protect the fundamental rights of former slaves as United States citizens under Article IV, Sec. II of the U.S. Constitution,11 proponents and those denied Personhood understand how needful it is to protect all human beings by love and by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution,12 the Supreme Law of the Land. 

If Ezekiel is right, God is looking for leaders who would build up the wall and stand before Him in the gap on behalf of the land so He would not have to destroy it (Ezekiel 22:30).13 Could it be that abortion is still legal in America and the needs of our women and children unmet because the leaders of our socially impeccable auspices are not socially impeccable themselves

Brothers, we really need to talk.

This article has been reprinted with permission. You can find more information and read additional articles at

07. William Brennan – Dehumanizing the Vulnerable: When Word Games Take Lives. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1995, Page 202.
08. Ibid., Page 225.
09. Monday, April 9th, 1866: An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their Vindication (
10. ROE v. WADE, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Cf. the Wisconsin abortion statute, defining “unborn child” to mean “a human being from the time of conception until it is born alive,” Wis. Stat. 940.04 (6) (1969), and the new Connecticut Statute, Pub. Act No. 1 (May 1972 special session), declaring it to be the public policy of the State and the legislative intent “to protect and preserve human life from the moment of conception.” (
11. Article IV — The States, Section II — State Citizens, Extradition: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”
12. Article VI — Debts, Supremacy, Oaths: “All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation. This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
13. “I sought for a man among them, who should build up the wall, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.” (World English Bible)