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By a vote of  34 to 8, the Oklahoma Senate has passed SB 1433, the Personhood bill. Several Democratic Senators argued valiantly against it, after it had been lobbied hard by women's groups, doctors groups, Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and others. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, which coordinated much of the lobbying, released the following statement.

In passing such an extreme bill as Senate Bill 1433, the Personhood Bill, the Oklahoma State Senate has put the people of Oklahoma in harm’s way. This bill, defining a fertilized human egg or embryo as a “person”, and thus prohibiting abortion, will make any pregnant woman who miscarries a murder suspect.  It will force a pregnant victim of rape or incest to give birth to the predator’s child.  Couples who wish to start a family using in vitro fertilization will be out of luck in Oklahoma, since no doctor will risk charges of murder to practice this advanced medicine.  Couples who wish to postpone a family will find it more difficult since this bill will make many contraceptives illegal.

This government intrusion into the most private lives of Oklahomans is an attack on our basic freedoms under the constitution which we all hold dear.  Not what we would hope from our state legislature!  Our government should be focusing on jobs in the present economy rather than getting involved in our personal healthcare decisions.  It is doubtful that any companies will want to move to Oklahoma when their management and employees and their children would be subject to a law like this.  In addition to all its other problems, this is an anti-jobs bill.  The Oklahoma State Senate has let the people of Oklahoma down in a big way.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has this to say about the bill:

ACOG Statement on “Personhood” Measures
February 10, 2012

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is unequivocally opposed to the so-called "personhood" laws or amendments being considered in several states. These measures erode women's basic rights to privacy and bodily integrity; deny women access to the full spectrum of preventive health care including contraception; and undermine the doctor-patient relationship. ACOG firmly believes that science must be at the core of public health policies and medical decision-making that affect the health and life of women.

Like Mississippi's failed "Personhood Amendment" Proposition 26, these misleading and ambiguously worded "personhood" measures substitute ideology for science and represent a grave threat to women's health and reproductive rights that, if passed, would have long-term negative outcomes for our patients, their families, and society. Although the individual wording in these proposed measures varies from state to state, they all attempt to give full legal rights to a fertilized egg by defining "personhood" from the moment of fertilization, before conception (ie, pregnancy/ implantation) has occurred. This would have wide-reaching harmful implications for the practice of medicine and on women's access to contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures.

These "personhood" proposals, as acknowledged by proponents, would make condoms, natural family planning, and spermicides the only legally allowed forms of birth control. Thus, some of the most effective and reliable forms of contraception, such as oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other forms of FDA-approved hormonal contraceptives could be banned in states that adopt "personhood" measures. Women's very lives would be jeopardized if physicians were prohibited from terminating life-threatening ectopic and molar pregnancies. Women who experience pregnancy loss or other negative pregnancy outcomes could be prosecuted in some cases.

So-called "personhood" measures would have a negative impact on fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), that allow otherwise infertile couples to achieve pregnancy and create their families. Such proposals would also invariably ban embryonic stem cell research, depriving all of society potential lifesaving therapies.

ACOG supports guaranteed access to the full array of clinical and reproductive services appropriate to each individual woman's needs throughout her life. These "personhood" measures must be defeated in the best interest of women's health.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women. As a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 55,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality health care for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s health care. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a 501(c)(6) organization, is its companion organization.

The bill will now go to the Oklahoma House, where it will probably pass every faster than this bit of greased lightening today (Senate debate was cut off with a procedural move).

Props to Senators Connie Johnson, Jim Wilson, Judy Eason-McIntyre and a fourth Richard Lerblance, who was quite eloquent and reasoned in his statement, but whose name I did not catch. Will update when I can learn it.

Here is the full text of the bill:

February 8, 2012

SENATE BILL NO. 1433    By:    Crain of the Senate


        Billy of the House

An Act relating to unborn children; creating the Personhood Act; providing short title; stating legislative findings; specifying the interpretation of certain laws; defining certain terms; prohibiting certain interpretation; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.

SECTION 1.     NEW LAW     A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 1-750 of Title 63, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:
A.  This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Personhood Act".
B.  The Oklahoma Legislature finds that:
1.  The life of each human being begins at conception;
2.  Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being; and
3.  The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child.
C.  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.
D.  As used in this section, “unborn child” or “unborn children” shall include all unborn children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.
E.  Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a 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.
SECTION 2.  This act shall become effective November 1, 2012.

Originally posted to Progressive in Oklahoma on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 02:17 PM PST.

Also republished by Abortion.

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