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"Personhood" Amendment Struck Down in Oklahoma

Christine Detz |
April 30, 2012 | 7:01 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Oklahoma Supreme Court Rejects Personhood Amendment (photo courtesy Creative Commons)
Oklahoma Supreme Court Rejects Personhood Amendment (photo courtesy Creative Commons)
Pro-life supporters in Oklahoma suffered a setback Monday when the state Supreme Court rejected a proposed ballot initiative that would have outlawed abortion.  If voters passed the so-called “personhood” amendment, an embryo would have been declared a person from the moment of conception.

Personhood Oklahoma hoped to get State Question Number 761 on the ballot in November.  The proposed amendment to the state constitution is listed below: 


This measure adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution to reconcile recent scientific developments with the definition of a human being for the purpose of equal protection under the law. The proposed amendment expands the legal definition of humanity or "personhood" to include every human being, regardless of place of residence, race, gender, age, disability, health, level of function, condition of dependency, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of biological development to the end of natural life. The amendment applies the term "person" under the Oklahoma Constitution equally to every human being so defined and prohibits the intentional killing of any such "person" without due process of law.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the ballot initiative stating it was “void on its face” based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling which supercedes the ruling of any other court in the nation.

Monday’s ruling was praised by abortion rights advocates. “This amendment would have run roughshod over the fundamental, constitutionally protected reproductive rights of all Oklahoma women,” president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northrup told Reuters.


Personhood Oklahoma undertook the petition to place the amendment on the ballot after the Oklahoma state legislature failed to pass similar legislation earlier this year.  Voters in Mississippi and Colorado previously voted down similar amendments in their respective states.




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