Personhood group plans to appeal Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling

Posted on July 28, 2012

News OK, July28, 2012 by Michael McNutt

A national group plans to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal an Oklahoma ruling that its proposed ballot issue to define a fertilized human egg as a person is unconstitutional.

Personhood USA will announce its appeal Monday, representatives of the group said Friday.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling April 30, which stated the personhood proposal was void and should be stricken.

They said the U.S. Supreme Court already has ruled, in 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision, that women have a constitutional right to an abortion.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled in the past that unconstitutional initiatives should not appear on a ballot for voters’ consideration.

The personhood proposal, Initiative Petition No. 395, would have effectively banned all abortions and many types of birth control, as well as severely threatened fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization, said officials with The Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the lawsuit questioning its constitutionality. Backers were trying to get the personhood proposal on November’s general election ballot.

Supporters of the personhood proposal were attempting to get signatures of about 155,000 registered voters to be able to put the question on the Nov. 6 ballot.

A state law passed in 2009 requires protests to initiative petitions be filed with the Supreme Court before all the signatures are collected.Keith Mason, founder of Personhood USA, argued Friday that Oklahomans should be allowed to circulate a personhood petition.An attempt failed to get personhood legislation passed this year.

Leadership in the state House of Representatives refused to take up the measure, Senate Bill 1433. Backers said it was a statement that Oklahomans value life and that nothing in the measure would have prohibited contraception or in vitro fertilization; opponents said it could have led to restrictions on abortions, birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.

The proposed ballot question was similar to but different from SB 1433. The bill would not have made women subject to homicide or manslaughter charges for seeking an abortion, the measure’s authors have said, because abortion is allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Posted in: Oklahoma