Oklahoma court rejects ballot initiative on "personhood"

OKLAHOMA CITY Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:08pm EDT

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OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday struck down a ballot initiative that sought voter approval of a so-called "personhood" amendment to the state constitution to define an embryo as a human being from the moment of conception.

The ballot question would have asked Oklahoma voters to expand the definition of a human being to include a fertilized egg. But the state's highest court said the proposed constitutional amendment was "void on its face" because the U.S. Supreme Court already has decided the issue.

Passage of a personhood law or constitutional amendment would have the effect of banning abortion in the state, both supporters and critics have said.

"The measure is clearly unconstitutional," the court said in its decision.

The ruling marked the second major defeat in Oklahoma this year for the personhood movement, which wants full legal rights accorded to human embryos from the moment of conception.

A personhood bill passed the Oklahoma state Senate in February but the state's House of Representatives refused to bring it to a vote last week.

The petition was challenged in court last month by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and local abortion rights groups.

"This amendment would have run roughshod over the fundamental, constitutionally protected reproductive rights of all Oklahoma women," said Nancy Northrup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Supporters of the personhood drive were trying to gather 155,000 signatures of registered voters within 90 days to place the amendment on the November election ballot. No one from the Tulsa-based organization immediately responded to a request for comment.

Similar initiatives were successful in placing personhood questions on the ballot in Colorado and Mississippi, but voters in those states defeated the amendments.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Vicki Allen)

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Comments (5)
beancube2101 wrote:
OK. Don’t feel lost, religious junkies.
We can work on the person hood (for some very rich people, of course not for poor) of dead person now.
Humanity is all about what we (the British) believe, isn’t it?

Apr 30, 2012 8:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MassResident wrote:
I support Ron Paul on almost everything but not this. It is fundamentally unethical and unwise to try to win an argument by changing the definition of a word. The “People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea” is neither a democracy nor a republic, “gay marriage” is not marriage, and a single cell is not a “person”. These maneuvers are all attempts to put words into the mouths of generations of courts and legislators who wrote our laws and constitution using words whose meanings were well understood and agreed to for generations. The consequences of redefining the words the laws are written in are unpredictable. If these men want to change the rules, they need to do it one law at a time with full debate and due consideration of the consequences of each individual change. At least with ObamaCare we knew what document to read to discover what they were up to. Here no one can know what the effects would be without reviewing every law on the books that uses the word “person”.

Apr 30, 2012 8:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Bretfox wrote:
The U S Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that a woman has the right to decide to abort or not abort. The U S Supreme court did not define personhood. So what’s the problem? The Oklahoma ballot initiatve is only allowing voters to determine whether or not an embryo is a person or not. There is no conflict with the U S Supreme court’s ruling. The Oklahoma Supreme court is wrong!

Apr 30, 2012 9:08pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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