Unanimous Oklahoma Supreme Court: Personhood Initiative “Clearly Unconstitutional”
On Monday the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a ballot initiative that would grant legal rights to embryonic cell clusters is unconstitutional, meaning voters will not get a chance to weigh in on whether or not to define life at conception in the state.
The unanimous decision by the state’s highest court came after the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center on Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of six Oklahoma voters. If passed, the initiative would have outlawed many critical reproductive health services, including all abortion care, in vitro fertilization, most commonly used forms of birth control, and treatments for ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages.
“The proponents of this initiative were attempting to insert politicians into the deeply personal medical decisions of Oklahoma women and their families,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “We’re relieved that this dangerous initiative won’t be on the ballot.”
“The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that women have the right to safe, legal abortion services and other reproductive health care,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The Oklahoma court has sent a strong message that attempts to pass laws that are so hostile to women’s rights and health will not prevail in a court of law.”
The court ruled unanimously that the initiative petition “is void on its face” for being “clearly unconstitutional” and ordered it stricken. Since the legislative attempts to define personhood at conception have also failed, the is ruling appears to settle the issue in Oklahoma, at least for this legislative session.
Photo from gavin rice via flickr.