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'Personhood' Group Asks Supreme Court To Consider Okla. Ballot Initiative

'Personhood' Group Asks Supreme Court To Consider Okla. Ballot Initiative

August 1, 2012 — Personhood USA on Monday filed an appeal with the Supreme Court over an Oklahoma court's ruling that invalidated a state ballot initiative (Initiative Petition No. 395) that sought to define fertilized eggs as people, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.

The initiative would have asked Oklahoma voters whether the state should give "inherent rights" to any individual from the "beginning of biological development to the end of natural life." Opponents said it would outlaw abortion in the state, ban some types of contraception and jeopardize the legality of in-vitro fertilization.

In April, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the proposal was unconstitutional and void because it would violate women's right to an abortion. Personhood USA's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court claims the state court violated citizens' First Amendment and 10th Amendment rights by rejecting the petition (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 7/30).

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and a former state lawmaker, called the appeal a "desperate effort to intrude on the deeply personal decisions of Oklahoma women and their families." Kiesel said there is little chance the Supreme Court will take the case.

Keith Mason, founder of Personhood USA, said he sees the case as a chance to challenge Roe v. Wade before the Supreme Court. "They could look at this and return abortion to the states; they could even ban abortion completely," he said (McNutt, The Oklahoman, 7/31).