By-passing Real People: Oklahoma Legislature Tries to Pass Egg-as-Person Bill

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Commentary Law and Policy

By-passing Real People: Oklahoma Legislature Tries to Pass Egg-as-Person Bill

Kari Ann Rinker

Popular distaste for "personhood" bills has been evidence in Colorado and Mississippi. So, Oklahoma legislators are seeking the same end result through a different strategy: legislation that lays the groundwork for potential prohibition of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, oral contraception, and IUDs, and the granting of fatherhood rights at conception.

Oklahoma Personhood is getting a lot of attention these days, as are other atrocious state legislative attempts at restricting women’s right to safe, legal abortion. The Oklahoma legislation passed the Senate with a resoundingly and revolting 34 to 8 vote in favor of a “personhood” bill.  It has produced a lot of talk from both sides of the debate as to what ultimate effect it may have, should it move on to gain passage in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives. 

This attempt to establish the “personhood” of fertilized eggs is not the same as the effort in Mississippi undertaken through a ballot initiative. It will not require statewide support of voters to pass. It is a simple statute, requiring a simple legislative majority for passage.

Another thing worth noting is that this Personhood language, like many other state attempts at restricting access to abortion and other reproductive health services is recycled language.  The content of Oklahoma Personhood is not new.  It is currently law in the state of Missouri and in South Dakota.  It passed there before “personhood” became all the rage.  Kansas also has the same legislation pending this session titled the “Life Begins at Conception Declaration.”

In fact, this is a favored talking point of those in support of the measure in Oklahoma. Since it has not yet been practically applied to outlaw abortion, contraception and the like in those states, Oklahoma might ought go ahead and pass it.  After all, they must remain competitive in the national anti-choice race to be deemed “the most pro-life state.”  Many Oklahoma legislators have surely already imagined polishing their golden fetus award, prepared their speeches and reserved their tuxes for the momentous occasion.   

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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The uncertainty of a popular vote for a constitutional amendment became evident in Mississippi and Colorado.  So, this legislative attempt with the same end result is fast becoming the apparent preferred strategy. The legislation lays the groundwork for potential actions against in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments, oral contraception, and IUDs, and the granting of fatherhood rights at conception. 

Ryan Kiesel from the ACLU of Oklahoma said, “This bill is an open invitation to any district attorney in Oklahoma to arrest and charge someone for having an abortion or for providing abortion services.”  Ryan is right.  While the Oklahoma personhood proponents can state the “that would never happen” defense until the cows come home, the defense should not be allowed to stand without a challenge.  We have witnessed a level of extremism in our national politics as of late, which should give every woman within every red state controlled by radical anti-choice majorities ample cause for concern.
Whether these personhood style legislative attempts seek to act as a backstop to codify “life at conception” in the event of a Roe overturn or whether it be to begin a strategy of practical application of eliminating access to both abortionand birth control, or whether it is as simple as a being used merely as a political tool…enough is enough already! 

Americans hailing from red, blue and purple states are seeing these expansive and abusive state legislative actions for what they are… and they are pure ugliness.  They are the modern day subjugation of women. The anti-choice greed for this legislative oppression to include birth control could be the ultimate demise of their movement.  It is becoming readily apparent that the public has reached a point where they finally… finally… please yes… finally see… that “family values” is code for bigotry and religious domination.