The Lobby Against Senate Bill 1433: The “Personhood” Bill

On Monday news circulated that Oklahoma Senate Bill 1433 had passed the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services with a vote of 5-2. The bill would provide personhood status to zygotes. Not sure what that is? It is the very first cell formed when ovum and sperm are joined. This single cell is what some Oklahoma legislators want you to consider as a person. Also every cell division after that is a person too. Even before it becomes an official fetus, which is about eight weeks after fertilization.

Really. The language of the bill is as follows :”The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state.”

Let that sink in for a second. That single cell would have the same rights as a fully formed child or adult. Do you use birth control that only prevents implantation, but not conception? Consider what will happen if this bill passes into law. Your access and choice of contraception will more than likely be effected by the nature of this bill. Are you thinking about in vitro fertilization, IVF, because this might make it harder for you to find a health care provider willing to handle human embryos. Because if your health care provider loses embryos from storage and handling accidents, or even looses some in their attempts to help get you pregnant, that could be considered a crime. And if you only intended to get pregnant with one child, but ended up with more than one successfully implanted embryo, you probably wouldn’t get a choice as to how many children you were going to keep. The state would decide for you that those embryos are all people too and in turn deserve the right to live, even if it adversely effects your health and the health of your potential offspring to carry six pregnancies to term at once.

Because of the blatantly unconstitutional nature of SB1433, see Roe vs. Wade, a few legislators decided to add unusual amendments to highlight the inequity of reproductive rights as outlined by measures proposed within the Personhood Bill. The “Every Sperm is Sacred” amendment, introduced by Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City, essentially stated that any semen ejaculated outside of a woman’s vagina would be considered a crime against an unborn child. It was proposed as a joke, but it was also meant to draw attention to the imbalance of assigning privilege between these two sets of sexually reproductive cells. This in turn spurred another legislator, Senator Jim Wilson of Tahlequah, to add another amendment that would make the father of the unborn child financially responsible for its mother’s health care, housing, transportation and nourishment while she is pregnant. His amendment failed. Apparently, ladies, if you get pregnant the burden falls to you. Remember, under the language of SB1433 your choices of birth control narrow too. Also don’t expect that much help from the state in the event you are pregnant and have little access to healthcare. They’ve been whittling away at the budget for Women, Infant, and Children among other social services.

SB1433 has generated outrage among women and people who believe in a woman’s right choose if and when she will become a mother. According to Kara Joy McKee, a protestor at today’s lobby against SB1433, 20 to 30 women gathered at the state capitol to voice their opposition this bill. They wore pink as a sign of solidarity and handed out information about the potential fallout if this bill passes. They also spoke with legislators and their executive-assistants about the opposition to the bill.

As of right now SB1433 bill has been tabled, which it is not unusual for voting to be postponed, but McKee said that she and other women across this state will continue to rally and voice their opposition when the bill comes up for a vote again.

To be frank, even if this bill passes into law, organizations will sue the state and in the end taxpayer money, which could go to fund more immediate social services like the Department of Human Services, will be wasted on litigation.

This is what women who protested early Thursday morning had to say on the bill.


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