Oklahoma, weighing “personhood” law, may be next abortion flashpoint

(Reuters) – A proposed law in Oklahoma that would grant embryos full rights as people from the moment of conception may represent the next big challenge to the constitutional right to abortion in the United States.

Oklahoma’s Personhood Act passed the state Senate in February and is expected to be approved by the Republican-controlled House within weeks. The state’s Republican governor, Mary Fallin, is an abortion opponent and is expected to sign the bill if it passes.

If an embryo has full legal rights, abortion would represent murder. While the bill does not expressly prohibit abortion, abortion-rights advocates say there’s nothing to stop hospital administrators or local law enforcement agencies from restricting or criminalizing abortions under the law. The bill does not carve out exceptions for rape or incest.

Missouri is the only state so far with such a “personhood” law on its books establishing legal rights for embryos, though similar initiatives have been proposed in a handful of states.

These include last fall’s failed attempt in Mississippi to enact a personhood amendment to the state constitution and a similar proposal in Virginia that was put on hold by the legislature until next year.

But Oklahoma’s bill seeks to go farther than Missouri’s in challenging the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion by not including language acknowledging that it defers to the court and Constitution.

Like other personhood measures, the Oklahoma bill has been controversial within the anti-abortion camp. The initiatives are designed to provoke legal challenges from abortion-rights supporters, with the ultimate goal of giving the Supreme Court a vehicle to overturn Roe v. Wade, according to Keith Mason, a leader of the movement.


Reuters has the full article

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