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Assisted Reproduction

Proposed Oklahoma ‘Personhood’ Amendment Ruled Unconstitutional

Not a big surprise:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Monday that a proposal that would grant “personhood” rights to human embryos is unconstitutional.

The state’s highest court ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment that would define a fertilized human egg as a person violates a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision and “is clearly unconstitutional.” Supporters of the personhood amendment are trying to gather enough signatures to put it before Oklahoma voters on the November ballot.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights filed a protest with the state Supreme Court on behalf of several Oklahoma doctors and residents. The protest alleged the measure would have far-reaching implications that trump the rights of women. Opponents asked the court to stop the group Personhood Oklahoma from gathering signatures.

The court ruled unanimously that the initiative petition “is void on its face” and ordered it stricken. Dan Skerbitz of Personhood Oklahoma said he had not seen the decision and could not comment on it.

Opponents argued that the proposed amendment “would confer rights on a fertilized egg that trump the rights of each woman to determine whether and when to conceive and whether to carry a pregnancy to term.” They said it would ban abortions without exception and interfere with a woman’s right to use certain forms of contraception and medical procedures, such as in vitro fertilization.

The Legislature also has taken up the issues. A measure granting fertilized human eggs the rights and privileges of Oklahoma residents was approved by the Senate but died in the House last week. House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, had said that a majority of the Republican caucus had privately voted against hearing the bill.

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