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Okla. Senate Approves 'Personhood' Bill

Okla. Senate Approves 'Personhood' Bill

February 17, 2012 — The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday voted 34-8 to approve a bill (SB 1433) that would grant fertilized eggs "all the rights, privileges and immunities" of citizens, AP/MSNBC reports.

The Oklahoma State Medical Association, which represents about 5,000 doctors and medical students in the state, opposes the bill because of concerns it could affect reproductive health care and ban certain forms of contraception, OSMA spokesperson Wes Glinsmann said (Murphy, AP/MSNBC, 2/15).

Martha Skeeters, president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, noted that the bill does not include exceptions for cases of rape or incest (Olafson, Reuters, 2/16). Eli Reshef, medical director of the Bennett Fertility Institute at Integris Baptist Hospital, said the bill could jeopardize in vitro fertilization.

State Sen. Brian Crain (R), who sponsored the bill, said it is modeled after a 1986 Missouri law that the U.S. Supreme Court has said is constitutional. Crain noted that none of the opponents' fears have materialized in Missouri. "Is there birth control available in the state of Missouri? I believe there is. Is there stem cell research in the state of Missouri? I believe there is," he said.

The bill now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has not commented on the bill but has described herself as "pro-life" (AP/MSNBC, 2/15). Fallin signed every bill to restrict abortion rights that reached her desk last year, Reuters reports (Reuters, 2/16).