Precipitous changes to established law (or tradition) ARE profoundly disruptive to social cohesion and respect for lawful authority. This IS the prime impulse of a decent conservatism.
In that sense I’m sympathetic to conservatism. In that same sense, I might even BE conservative. This decent impulse is based on sad realities concerning human nature. But BECAUSE (not despite) conservatism is based on a sober recognition of such truths, it therefore must often be WRONG. Sometimes calamitously.
Unfortunately, especially if one believes law and religion have helped foster some uncertain progress away from civilized savagery, the rule of law has OFTEN codified support of the worst forms of oppression, violence, and immoral depravity. Think slavery.
Yes, religion and civil law have ALWAYS regulated and officiated violence (think human sacrifice and the death penalty). And yes, it is possible to imagine (and perhaps measure) certain qualities of moral (humane?) progress with religion and civil law playing a crucial role. But conservatism, far too often, has NOT been a steadying hand guiding such progress. Instead, it has too often been a smug and malevolent STUMBLING BLOCK to the very hope of human decency.
Perhaps the extension of legal personhood to certain animals, natural resources and ALL forms of humanity (including the unborn) is a step in some uncertain helix of progress? The idea of personhood for all living humans (never mind citizenship) REMAINS an insecure idea. But when it comes to abortion, conservatism has become completely irrelevant. And that is very sad and very dangerous.
The impulse to extend legal personhood to the unborn does have decent and respectable roots.
But everything decent is perpetually vulnerable to corruption, hypocrisy, and misuse.
The rights of women and girls, who too often, are denied resources and agency, must also be a consideration of decent human beings. Resources and agency are just as essential to “personhood”.
Unfortunately, questions of personhood and rights have rarely been resolved in a calm spirit of respectful discourse. Such struggles have sometimes been resolved within the confines of the legal arena. But even in such cases, there is always some degree of disorder that rarely excludes some forms of mayhem.
Unfortunately, there will always be those who seek their own advantage in fomenting disorder.
Personhood for slaves in the US Constitution? Click here
Personhood for animals? Click here
Personhood for natural resources? Click here
Personhood for corporations? Click here
Personhood for the unborn? Click here
Some see affirming this type of personhood as an opportunity to extend more decency to all humans. Others' impulses are systematically murderous.