Oklahoma’s ‘Personhood’ Bill Advances from House Committee

Posted on March 28, 2012

Tulsa World, March 28, 2012 by Randy Krehbiel

OKLAHOMA CITY – An amended version of a controversial “personhood” bill advanced from the House Public Health committee Tuesday over warnings of unintended consequences.

Senate Bill 1443 says “the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”

It goes on to define “unborn child” as “the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth.”

Opponents say the measure leads into all sorts of legal dark alleys and could affect everything from parental rights and inheritance to criminal assault en route to its true target, abortion.

Its House sponsor, Rep. Lisa Billy, said SB 1443 is simply a “statement of purpose” that recognizes what she called “the irrefutable scientific fact that life begins at conception.”

Billy assured the committee that in its current version the bill would not change existing abortion law or interfere with medical research, in vitro fertilization or any other medical or scientific procedure that now is legal.

The bill also states that charges could not be brought against a pregnant woman “for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”

An amendment by Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, to “put into writing exactly what Rep. Billy said” was tabled by a 7-4 vote.

“Why would a person be willing to stand up and say these things and not be willing to put it in writing?” he asked.

An earlier amendment by Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, which read, “Nothing in this act would prevent a doctor from terminating a pregnancy to save the life of the mother,” was also tabled on a 7-4 vote.

McDaniel said she found a bill to protect the lives of the unborn “ironic, since I’ve had bills out here to protect children … and I was told, ‘No, children have no rights.’ ”

The committee voted to recommend the bill to the full House by the same 7-4 vote as the tabling motions, with McDaniel and Cox joined by Republican Ron Peters of Tulsa and Democrat Ed Cannaday in opposition.

Voting for the bill were Republicans David Derby, Randy Grau, Corey Holland, Jadine Nollan, Mike Ritze, Sean Roberts and Colby Schwartz.

Posted in: Oklahoma