Oklahomans rally at Capitol to protest Personhood legislation
Hillary McLain, The Oklahoma Daily
Close to 1,000 people gathered Tuesday at the Capitol to protest Oklahoma legislation that could declare personhood as beginning at conception.
Senate Bill 1433 passed the Senate on Feb. 15 and declares life and personhood begin at the moment of conception. House Joint Resolution 1067 also seeks to declare this but was tabled for this year.
Bruce Prescott, executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, opposes the law on the grounds of separation of church and state, he said at the rally.
“[It] imposes one theological construct on all people ... because of a strict, literal interpretation of the Hebrew Bible,” Prescott said.
The government is infringing on the basic human right to make one’s own decision regarding his or her life and health based on politicians’ own religious beliefs and convictions, he said.
Dr. Eli Reshef, medical director of INTEGRIS Health’s Bennett Fertility Institute, also spoke out against the bill at the rally.
HJR1067 could severely impact his work assisting couples with in vitro fertilization, he said. If a fetus is declared to have personhood, eggs that fail to attach could be considered killing a person.
He challenged the author of the Personhood Act, Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa.
“All it takes is one disgruntled couple to sue me for their eggs dying in the lab,” Reshef said. “Will you be there for me, Sen. Crain?”
The bill wouldn’t ban in vitro fertilizations or prevent abortions but would let people know the state is pro-life, Crain said in a press release.
Heather Hall, a rally organizer, said she has been in the position of choosing between an abortion and giving birth. She eventually chose against the abortion.
“That’s a heavy choice,” Hall said. “If you don’t have a choice, then the lack of it is overwhelming.”
The passage of this legislation would provide a foundation for a number of other laws that would severely restrict women’s access to medical care, Hall said.
“My mom raised me to leave the world a better place for my children ..., and this isn’t better,” Hall said.
During the protest, both senators and representatives addressed the rally.
Sen. Judy McIntyre, D-Tulsa, blamed Republican legislators for the bills and challenged the crowd to petition against them.
“To the young women: you are the future,” McIntyre said. “You have to work like hell to get rid of bad measurements.”
Lauren Zuniga, OU activist-in-residence, also spoke at this event. Oklahoma Coalition of Reproductive Justice, Oklahomans Against Personhood and Young Democrats of Oklahoma were all present in support of the rally.