Two measures being considered by state lawmakers that declare personhood starts at conception would have a devastating effect on reproductive medical services and would be an embarrassment to the state, a doctor said Friday.
“Both measures go way too far and if implemented will cause significant damage to the treatment of infertility and compromise Oklahoma patients,” said Dr. Eli Reshef, medical director at the Bennett Fertility Institute, which is affiliated with Integris Baptist Medical Center. “I don't think that many of our esteemed legislators have paused to think about the consequences to
“The bottom line: Economics will suffer,” he said. “Why take the business and send it to Texas and Arkansas and Kansas to do in vitro fertilization?
“It's also an issue of image,” Reshef said. “It's nothing short of embarrassment.”
He said the measures would reduce the number of providers for in vitro fertilization. Infertility affects about 12 percent of all couples in Oklahoma, he said.
If either measure pending in the Legislature would pass, it would be considered a crime if a lab technician dropped a dish containing fertilized human eggs, he said.
“How can we as medical professionals work with that kind ... criminal prosecution? We cannot,” he said at a news conference that was attended by several doctors and medical students. An organizer who helped defeat a similar issue last year in Mississippi also attended, along with one of Reshef's former patients, now a mother of two.
Atlee Breland said the personhood amendment that was rejected by 58 percent of Mississippi voters last year would have defined life as beginning at fertilization. Opponents worried it would restrict in vitro fertilization, endanger women with ectopic pregnancies or outlaw some types of birth control.
Authors defend bills
In separate interviews afterward, legislators who authored the personhood bills said critics were misinformed.
Sen. Brian Crain, author of Senate Bill 1433, said his measure proclaims Oklahoma is an anti-abortion state. It would not make women subject to homicide or manslaughter charges for seeking an abortion, because abortion is allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court, said Crain, R-Tulsa.
SB 1433, which passed the Senate last week and will be
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While the state of Oklahoma recognizes the right of women, we also need to recognize that there are rights for the unborn.”
Sen. Brian Crain