Oklahoma City, OK — 4/26/2012 — For the second time in as many days, the Oklahoma Republican House leadership has refused to hear SB 1433, the Oklahoma Personhood Act, thereby running out the clock on the pro-life bill. The measure, which was approved by the state Senate 34 to 8 and given a “do pass” recommendation by the House Public Health Committee, would have defined conception as the beginning of human life and recognized every preborn child as a person, inherently possessed of all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other citizens of the state.
On Wednesday, veteran pro-life legislator Rep. Mike Reynolds, R, Oklahoma City, made a common procedural motion to suspend the House rules and bring the bill to a full vote. Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Hickman, R., Dacoma, responded, charging that all motions were required to be scheduled by Majority Floor Leader Dale DeWitt, R., Braman.
For clarification purposes, Rep. Reynolds asked which House rule Rep. Hickman was relying upon to deny the motion. Unable to cite any rule, Hickman responded that “it was the custom of the House that business be scheduled through the Floor Leader.”
“If you can’t cite a rule, it makes it impossible for me to ask to suspend that rule,” said Reynolds. “So Mr. Speaker, I guess the motion that you would have me make is that I should suspend the custom of the House. Now that would be ridiculous in any legislative body.”
After scheduling the motion with Floor Leader DeWitt, Rep. Reynolds moved to suspend the House rules again late Thursday. Although the motion had not yet been brought for consideration, Rep. Hickman claimed that it had been struck down the previous day.
Voting to adjourn for the day and killing the Personhood Act were 57 pro-abortion representatives. 22 pro-life House members voted “no” to adjournment, to continue legislative business and grant the bill an opportunity to be heard.
Earlier this week, Personhood USA called on Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to ask that the measure be sent to her desk for her signature. Fallin’s office released a statement indicating that no request would be made.
The Oklahoma Southern Baptist Convention, the Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, National Right to Life affiliate Oklahomans for Life, and leaders of nearly every Christian denomination held a press conference on Tuesday, demanding a vote on the measure. The Oklahoma Eagle Forum and Personhood Oklahoma had previously endorsed the measure.
“The Republican leadership in Oklahoma is testing the resolve of the state’s pro-life movement. The question at hand is who will fight harder–politicians settling for inaction or the people advocating for the lives of the preborn?” said Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. “The babies cannot wait. Abortion is an intolerable evil, and the people will defeat it.”
The failure of the House to pass the Personhood Act leaves Personhood Oklahoma’s petition drive as the remaining hope for the state’s preborn children. The group must collect 155,000 petition signatures by the end of May to put the Oklahoma Personhood Amendment on the November ballot.
“The Oklahoma legislature has become the best advocate for a vigorous initiative process. They have proven to the world that there is simply no guarantee that a majority of politicians, Democrats or Republicans, will stand for what’s right,” added Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D., Legal Analyst for Personhood USA. “Once an initiative is passed, it doesn’t change its mind. We urge all pro-life Oklahomans to take up the banner of life that the legislature so carelessly threw on the ground, and appeal to the people through the personhood constitutional amendment initiative.”
Representatives voting to deny the recognition of the rights of the preborn include: Armes, Banz, Billy, Brown, Cannaday, Casey, Condit, Coody, Cooksey, Dank, Denney, DeWitt, Dorman, Enns, Glenn, Grau, Hall, Hickman, Holland, Hoskn, Inman, Jordan, Joyner, Kouplen, Liebmann, St. Martin, McCullough, C. McDaniel, J. McDaniel, R. McDaniel, McNiel, McPeak, Nelson, Nollan, Osborn, Ownbey, Peters, Peterson, Quinn, Renegar, Richardson, Roan, Rousselot, Russ, Schwartz, Scott, Sears, Shelton, Shoemake, Shumate, Thomsen, Vaughan, Virgin, Watson, Williams, Wright, Speaker of the House Kris Steele
Pro-life Representatives casting a vote for the Personhood Act to proceed include: Bennett, Blackwell, Brumbaugh, Christian, Derby, Faught, Hamilton, Kern, Key, Lockhart, Sc. Martin, Moore, Morrissette, Mulready, Murphey, Reynolds, D. Roberts, S. Roberts, Sanders, Stiles, Trebilcock, and Wesselhoft