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Oklahoma Senate passes Personhood Act, saying life begins at conception

After two hours of debate, the state Senate voted 34-8 for a bill that states life begins at the moment of conception.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Published: February 16, 2012
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The first bill of the session passed by the Oklahoma Senate was an anti-abortion statement that life begins at the moment of conception, approved by senators Wednesday after two hours of debate.

The practical effect of the bill is open to question. Its author, Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, said it's merely a statement that Oklahoma is “pro-life.” He labeled as fear mongering contentions by opponents that it could lead to restrictions on abortions, birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.

The Personhood Act, Senate Bill 1433, received international attention in the wake of a proposed amendment from Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Holdenville. The amendment said it was an act against unborn children for men to waste sperm.

“A lot of people thought that I was being facetious with my amendment in committee, and it was humorous and it has gotten international response,” Johnson said to her fellow senators.

“But I was serious as a heart attack. It wasn't until I used the biological and scientific references to those functions that somebody heard it. Maybe nobody in this chamber gets it but somebody heard that all we're asking for is for this conversation to include both individuals that are necessary to bring life about.”

Johnson, whose amendment was tabled, said she is sick of legislation that pries into the private lives of women with no mention of the men who are co-actors in the process of conception.

The bill passed 34-8 with several Democrats voting in favor.

Crain defended the bill he authored as a necessary step toward protecting Oklahoma's most vulnerable people, unborn children.

“The unborn have no voice of their own. We must be the voice of the unborn,” Crain said. “It will take us to the very limit of what the United States Supreme Court has deemed to be constitutional.”

Read Senate Bill 1433 Language Read Senate Bill 1274 Language Read Senate Bill 1067 Language

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