Oklahomans rally against the “personhood” bill

March 1, 2012 • 10:05 am

In mid-February the Oklahoma state legislature joined the parade of states proposing “personhood” amendments: those legal stipulations that life begins at the moment of fertilization, and from that point on the zygote is a “person.”  In this case, the bill passed the Oklahoma state senate by a whopping majority: 34-8.

Three days ago there was a rally at the Oklahoma state capitol against this bill.  As reported by Fox23 in Oklahoma (see also the video report here):

Many people at the rally brought their shoes and placed them on the steps of the capitol signifying the government’s role in asking them to go back in time to be “barefoot and pregnant.”

“Once the shoes have been placed, they represent all of the women that have been harmed or have died because of politicized health care,” says rally organizer, Heather Hall.

Alert reader Stan sent some photos of the rally taken by Kel Pickens and posted with his permission.  The posters, some of which are funny, express the rage of some Oklahomans against this stupid incursion into people’s lives.

The bill now goes to the Oklahoma House.  If it’s passed, only Ceiling Cat knows what will happen, but it would legally be murder to have an abortion, even an early-stage one.  Also, every frozen embryo produced in in vitro fertilization processes would have to be implanted, or that would be murder, too.

Here’s the relevant text of the bill, which you can download at this site:

B.  The Oklahoma Legislature finds that:

1.  The life of each human being begins at conception;

2.  Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being; and

3.  The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child.

C.  The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.

D.  As used in this section, “unborn child” or “unborn children” shall include all unborn children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.

Like biological creationism, this bill is of course based on religion.

73 thoughts on “Oklahomans rally against the “personhood” bill

      1. Actually, that is the intention. That, just as murder has the distinctions of self-defense, involuntary, first/second degree, that will be taken into consideration for the woman seeking abortion.

        They also want to charge the doctor OVER the woman, if she will testify against him for a lesser sentence.

        1. If they charge the doctor with murder they would have t charge the woman as an accessory to murder which carries the same penalty. I suppose the pro life crowd would then what to execute both the doctor and the woman in order to be consistent.

          1. Our legal system doesn’t work that way. Prosecutors frequently drop or drastically reduce charges if one party turns ‘states evidence’.

            It’s evil and immoral but very common.

          2. They would charge her with accessory, and then negotiate an agreement where she pleas to a lesser charge in exchange for testifying against the doctor. This is very common in the American legal system.

    1. I suggest that, for their own legal safety, every sexually active, fertile woman in Oklahoma should collect her menstrual effluent every cycle and deliver it to her local medical examiner.

      It’s all in the name of obeying the law.

  1. Confessions of a Pro-Life Atheist, Why I Fight Abortion
    In which a Christian anti-abortion site publishes a letter from an atheist pro-lifer, Patrick Ptomey. he claims that science has convinced him that abortion is murder. Oddly, he never presents the science. Also, he never comments on abortion in cases of rape. I would like to hear his view on that, because the science of conception is no different in cases of rape.
    And, of course, they don’t allow comments.

    1. Oh, the religious dredge up all sorts of ‘atheists’ and ‘ex-atheists’. It’s most likely just another Just-So.

    2. I read that letter and the only reason I could find was that,

      “After a couple years of researching the issue I decided that I would adopt an anti-abortion position based on the scientifically accepted conclusion that conception was the formation of a unique and living member of the human species.”

      I think he is misusing the term “Human”, and like you said, it has nothing to do with science.

  2. They can’t fight against both contraception and widespread healthcare for the poor, then claim to care about children. Their game is up.

    1. There are many scary parallels in contemporary US politics to Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s like these jackasses think it’s supposed to be an instruction manual.

      1. More accurately (not that there’s anything wrong with making a funny comment as you did), Margaret Atwood wrote that novel in response to trends in American, and maybe Canadian, culture.

  3. How can a blastocyst be a person??? Ridiculous. Someone really should hybridize a human with some other animal, or give an animal human genes – that would make the animal ‘human’!

  4. Earlier in the debate, to point out the absurdity of the personhood bill, Oklahoma Senator Constance Johnson proposed the following “Every Sperm is Sacred” amendment:

    “However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.”

    She later withdrew the proposed amendment, however.

    1. It’s worse than that.

      Far worse.

      The only reason nobody’s cloned a human yet is because no ethics board is willing to sanction the procedure. Technically, there’s nothing challenging about it.

      Which means that every nuclear cell in your body is, potentially, a separate individual human being.

      Nick yourself shaving and you’ve just committed genocide on a scale that dwarfs that of all tyrants of history combined.

      But wait! There’s more!

      There’s no doubt but that Dr. Venter could — if not today, then at some point in the not-terribly-distant-future — take the computer file containing his DNA sequence, reassemble it into actual chromosomal DNA, inject said DNA into a de-nucleated egg, and grow a clone of himself.

      If he were to make a copy of the computer file and then delete it, that would also be murder.

      The right-to-turn-women-into-sex-slaves crowd don’t give a fucking damn about “unborn children” or any of that bullshit. They want their wimmins barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, exactly as Jesus intended. And where’s my beer, bitch! Do I have to go in there and open a can of whoop-ass to go with my beer?

      Sorry. I should shut up now before I get any more upset.


  5. This notion is primarily a regilious concept and should also be challenged on that basis. It seems fine for an individual to have religious beliefs on the start of “life” versus forcing everyone to accept your religious views.

    1. Exactly. I realize that one’s religious beliefs will play some role in policy making. I can deal with that. However, what we’re seeing goes beyond that. This is a tearing down of the wall that separates church and state, because these assholes apparently believe they have a divine prerogative to do so.

      1. If you read Republican theology, they are not tearing down the wall, but reinterpreting it to be a one-way wall. I call it Mr Jefferson’s “semipermeable barrier between church and state”.

  6. This personhood amendment also outlaws most forms of birth control. Because it defines persons as fertilized eggs.

    That would outlaw Plan B, birth control pills which as a secondary mechanism prevent implantation, and IUDs.

    It’s just another attempt at forced births and female slavery.

  7. Needless to say, this amendment would make their god a mass murderer.

    Roughly half of all fertilized eggs end up as spontaneous abortions.

    And they know god is in charge and everything happens for a reason.

    1. Too late. Their god is already a mass murderer. If it didn’t bother them before, why should they worry about it now?

      1. For those who don’t already know – it is not a coincidence when similar laws are proposed in different states. There are various think-tanks and lobbying organizations that write proposed legislation, and then look for legislators willing to sponsor it.

        ALEC is the most well known of these groups, but it’s not the only one.

        1. IIRC, those pushing the Mississippi amendment were hoping that the bill would pass, and after rounds of leggal battles would end up in front of the SCOTUS, whereby Roe v. Wade would be overturned by five morally upstanding justices and everybody would live happily ever after (except women, but who cares about them?). IOW, they knew such a bill was unconstitutional, and were actually banking on that. Is something similar happening in OK?

          1. That would be my guess. Most of the OK senators have to know that this runs afoul of SCOTUS precedents. IMO they are spoiling for a legal fight.

  8. What’s the status of the “morning after pill” there? Wouldn’t this make it a potential murder weapon, and the pharmacist who sells it an accessory to the crime?

    1. Yes.

      As well as most other forms of birth control.

      The sponsors of these amendments, a fundie xian group, admit that they want to outlaw birth control.

  9. I see potential for unintended consequences here:

    If this passes, does this mean people in OK will be able to claim fertilized eggs (either inside a woman or in cold storage) as dependents?

    Can a fertilized egg qualify for welfare payments?

    Can a fertilized egg that fails to make it to term and be delivered qualify for any death benefits under state law?

    What rights does the biological father of such a “person” have? Can they take the mother to court over a disagreement over her diet while pregnant?


    1. Most importantly – can people in Oklahoma legally purchase and consume alcohol nine months before their 21st birthdays?

      1. Follow on: if you were conceived in vitro and held in cold storage for, say, two years before implantation, does that mean you can start legally drinking 2 years earlier?

    2. As multiple eggs are fertilized in vitro (for economy-of-scale reasons as well as increasing the likelihood of obtaining a viable zygote, right?), regarding those that remain frozen, could the parents be charged with child abuse and abandonment?

      Why shouldn’t third party religiosos insist on eggs being fertilized one at a time until a viable zygote obtains? Why haven’t they insisted on such a bill?

      What if religiosos’ opponents passed a bill to that effect? (Although as a realistic matter I don’t suppose opponents would since they presumably do not consider the zygotes “persons.”)

      If religiosos balk at that, then they themselves should take charge of and take responsibility for the surplus zygotes. Let them start their own NON-PROFIT cryogenic facilities to support and subsidize religioso parents who have multiple in vitro eggs fertilized for $$ reasons but effectively abandon the surplus zygotes and impose the responsibility for them on someone else.

      1. Why shouldn’t third party religiosos insist on eggs being fertilized one at a time until a viable zygote obtains? Why haven’t they insisted on such a bill?

        Only a guess, but they don’t insist on those things because most of the women getting fertility treatments are upper- or middle- class white christian women.

        IMO there has always been an extremely strong classist element to the pro-life movement. The folks who pass these laws do so with at least some conscious thought that their wives and daughters would still have safe access to abortion (and fertility treatments) if and when they want it. Just look at Santorum as an example.

        The whole movement has a very strong “thee, not me” flavor.

  10. Actually the ’empty shoes’ bit is problematic, because it roughly equates abortion with birth control. Since so many anti choicers try to make that connection, we really don’t want to feed into that image.

    1. The bigger issue is robbing women of all control over their reproductive lives, which makes the shoes quite apt, IMO.

  11. Again, my main question is what to do with ectopic pregnancies. Must you just wait for the woman to die, or would abortion in that case be considered “self-defense” or justifiable homicide?

    1. When something like that happened in Nicaragua, the answer was just wait for the woman to die.

  12. Like I always believed since I was a child, an acorn is not an oak tree.

    Everyone should realize because that the majority of fertilized eggs don’t survive, God must be an Abortionist Supreme.

    1. Thanks to the quality of sex education in the United States, many Americans don’t know that the majority of fertilized eggs don’t survive.

  13. My question is whether the fertilized egg is a US Citizen? Might be an interesting tactic for people to claim they were conceived while their parents were foreign tourists visiting Oklahoma (and even more interesting if they can prove it).

  14. Just because no one else has said it yet…

    If a foetus in Oklahoma is going to have the same rights as any other person, that still, logically, makes abortion legal. The reason being that no person can demand the use of another person’s body. No one can demand to use my blood, or bone marrow, or a kidney, however much they need it to survive. Therefore no one can demand to use my uterus, however much they need it to survive.

  15. “In this case, the bill passed the Oklahoma state senate by a whopping majority: 34-8.”

    Jeebus. And there are Americans who say the *Taliban* is bad? The good ol’ ayatollahs would feel right at home on Oklahoma, wouldn’t they?

    34-8. In an allegedly civilised Western country. How could that happen?

  16. In one of Dubya’s campaigns, in which he was railing against embryonic stem-cell research and orchestrating photo ops with “snowflake” babies, one of my favorite bumper stickers was “MICROSCOPIC AMERICANS FOR BUSH.”

Leave a Reply