This past month, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal petition against efforts to put a personhood initiative onto the ballot in Oklahoma in November. This week, the state’s Supreme Court ruled on this legal challenge upholding the constitution and earlier rulings of the US Supreme Court by unanimously deciding to bar putting this measure to a public vote. This ballot initiative would have proposed giving a fertilized egg “personhood” and the affiliated rights that are afforded to a person. Despite appearing in many US states over the past five years, these personhood measures have dangerous implications for the safety and rights of pregnant women and women seeking abortions or fertility treatments. It would have banned abortion under any circumstance, banned several contraceptive options and could create legal challenges for medical care providers serving pregnant women and the women seeking this health care.
Many of Overbrook’s reproductive justice and domestic human rights grantees, including those listed above, have worked to defeat these measures through legal challenges (i.e. Oklahoma) or through grassroots mobilization and coalition building (i.e. Mississippi). We are glad to hear that the court has recognized the constitutional rights of Oklahoman women and that many organizations continue to successfully fight for the rights and health of American women in spite of these personhood strategies. For more information, click here to read an article from the Wall Street Journal, here to read an article from the Tulsa World, here to read the Center for Reproductive Rights’ press release on the victory and here for its description of the petition against ballot measure.