The last few years have seen a huge increase in so-called “personhood” measures — an attempt to define a fertilized egg as a person either in legislation or via state constitutional amendment. But as Reuter’s legal analysis notes, defining an embryo as a person is nothing new. Anti-choice operatives have been doing that for decades. It’s the attempt to make it a direct challenge to Roe V. Wade that has made the new push for “personhood” so extreme.
The wording of the Oklahoma [personhood] measure appears to have been guided by the more aggressive anti-abortion strategy.
The bill mimics almost verbatim similar legislation enacted in Missouri in 1986, one of the country’s first personhood measures. Like the Missouri law, the Oklahoma bill requires the state to give unborn children the same rights and privileges available to other citizens, from the “moment of conception until birth.”
But there is a crucial difference. While the Missouri statute explicitly recognized that the rights of unborn children are “subject to the Constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court,” Oklahoma makes no such acknowledgement. That difference brings the Oklahoma bill into direct conflict with Roe, providing grounds for a lawsuit.
A blatant and purposeful re-wording in order to prompt an immediate challenge to Roe? No wonder the Personhood Oklahoma Personhood movement is so anxious to make it pass that they are pushing it through both legislative and ballot venues at the same time.