Legislative efforts on the personhood issue will resume next year at the state Capitol, said Rep. Mike Reynolds, a key supporter of the personhood initiative petition effort. Two personhood measures failed to advance this year.
Bill failed this year
Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, filed a measure this year seeking a ballot issue that would have criminalized abortion by granting personhood status to a human embryo. It would have banned birth control methods or in vitro fertilization that “kills a person” and also stated there would be no exceptions for pregnancies that occur as a result of rape or incest. When his measure didn’t advance, he joined efforts to start a petition drive to get a similar measure submitted to voters on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Legal challenges were filed and the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the proposed petition was unconstitutional.
Personhood USA, in its appeal, states the Oklahoma Supreme Court overstepped its bounds.
“By striking the measure before it had been submitted to a vote of the people, without affording any defense to the presumed constitutionality of the measure, the Oklahoma court put itself in direct conflict with the decisions of a majority of state supreme courts that have considered the issue,” it states.
When the Oklahoma justices made their ruling, supporters of the personhood proposal were seeking to get signatures of about 155,000 registered voters to put the question on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. A state law passed in 2009 requires protests to initiative petitions be filed with the Supreme Court before all the signatures are collected.
Reynolds said depending on what happens with the personhood appeal, he may file legislation asking the Legislature to put a personhood proposal on the ballot or he may file a proposal seeking to make it a state law.
“It would be hard for the court to overturn the Legislature wanting to put it on the ballot,” Reynolds said. “That would be a whole different kind of lawsuit.”