Oklahoma City, OK — Republican members of the Oklahoma House have decided to abandon SB 1433, the Oklahoma Personhood Act. The bill would have defined the beginning of human life at conception and recognized that unborn children are possessed of the same rights as all persons.
“The life of each human being begins at conception. 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,” it reads. “‘Unborn child’ and ‘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.”
Republican Speaker of the House Kris Steele released a statement today indicating that the decision was made by the House Republican Caucus:
“The House Republican Caucus voted today not to hear the personhood bill on the House floor. This decision was not made unilaterally, but as a caucus collectively. I accept the will of our caucus.”
“The idea that this was a caucus decision is bogus,” said Rep. Mike Reynolds, R, Oklahoma City. “It is my understanding that there was no vote in caucus. Even if there had been one, many members were not present.”
The Oklahoma Personhood Act was passed by the state Senate in February by a vote of 34 to 8 and given a recommendation of “do pass” by a vote of 7 to 4 in the House Public Health Committee. The bill had received the endorsement of the state’s National Right to Life affiliate, Oklahomans for Life, the state’s Personhood USA affiliate, Personhood Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Eagle Forum.
“It seems the Oklahoma GOP leadership is trying to fill the Romney Republican mold—pro-life speech with no action,” said Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. “Not voting on the Personhood Act with majorities in the House and Senate and GOP Governor begs the question; if they won’t vote pro-life, why should we vote for them?”
The move to drop the bill from consideration leaves Oklahoma’s pro-life citizens with the lone option of pursuing a state constitution personhood amendment through the citizen initiative process.
The Oklahoma Personhood Amendment petition drive was launched on March 1st, anticipating inaction in the state legislature. 155,000 signatures collected by the end of May will send the personhood amendment to a vote of the people in November.
Similar to the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution, Oklahoma’s personhood amendment will guarantee that the rights of all persons cannot be denied:
“A “person” as referred to in Article 2, Section 2 of this constitution shall be defined as any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death. The inherent rights of such person shall not be denied without due process of law and no person as defined herein shall be denied equal protection under the law due to age, place of residence or medical condition.”
Oklahoma’s pro-life personhood supporters are being encouraged by the group organizing the initiative, Personhood Oklahoma, to visit www.PersonhoodOklahoma.com to download and circulate the statewide personhood petition.