Personhood USA is petitioning the US Supreme Court to appeal the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision to block a personhood ballot initiative in April. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled unanimously April 30th against a proposed amendment to the Oklahoma constitution that would grant “personhood” rights to human embryos, calling it “clearly unconstitutional.”
Personhood Oklahoma launched a petition drive in March to put a personhood proposal to a vote as an amendment to the state constitution. The Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Supreme Court on behalf of Oklahoma doctors and residents, asking the court to stop the group from gathering signatures for its petition. In its petition filed on Monday, Personhood USA claims that the Oklahoma Supreme court violated 1st and 10th amendment rights by blocking the petition and not allowing citizens to vote on the measure.
In a statement released on Monday, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northup said, “The proponents of this measure have made explicit the ultimate objective of the anti-reproductive rights movement: to strip all Americans of their constitutional right to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children. […]The scope of the fundamental rights and longstanding court precedents under attack by the opponents of reproductive rights is stunning.”
Abortion-rights supporters argue that personhood amendments would not only strip women of their constitutional right to safe and legal abortion, but would also outlaw forms of birth control and threaten in-vitro fertilization. No state has passed a personhood measure thus far. Mississippi voters rejected personhood in 2011 and Colorado voters rejected it twice, in 2008 and 2011. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America (PDF), 14 state legislatures introduced 26 personhood measures in 2011.
Media Resources: Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 7/30/12; The Hill 7/30/12; The Daily Beast 7/30/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/7/12; NARAL Pro-Choice America 3/9/12
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.