OKLAHOMA CITY (March 27, 2012) – Legislation declaring that life begins at conception gained approval today from a state House committee.
“This legislation is about as simple as it gets. Under this bill, Oklahoma law will acknowledge that life begin at conception,” said state Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Purcell. “The measure provides a clear policy statement and puts the state of Oklahoma on the side of protecting human life to the fullest extent possible under existing court rulings.”
Senate Bill 1433, by state Sen. Brian Crain and Billy, declares that the “life of each human being begins at conception” and that 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.”
The measure is based on a Missouri law that has been in place for more than two decades that was upheld by a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Critics of the measure have claimed the bill would outlaw in-vitro fertilization and birth control, but the Missouri case proves otherwise, Billy said.
“Opponents have resorted to wild claims to try and defeat this bill, but they can’t provide a single example of this law preventing anyone from receiving fertility treatments or purchasing birth control anywhere, anytime in the two decades this law has been on the books in Missouri,” said Billy, who was recently named the 2012 Kate Barnard Award winner by the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women.
The legislation expressly declares, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit contraception or in vitro fertilization.”
Senate Bill 1433 has been endorsed by medical professionals, including those in the field of obstetrics and family practice.
In a statement of support, Oklahomans for Life Chairman Anthony J. Lauinger wrote, “There is great educational value in a law such as the Personhood Act. Most citizens instinctively respect our laws. Many equate what is legal with what is right. Our laws serve an essential purpose in teaching, in guiding our actions. Ultimately, the pro-life effort is a struggle for the hearts and minds of our citizens.”
Billy said the legislation is in line with the values of most Oklahomans and the broader national population, including women.
She noted that a 2011 national survey by Gallup found that 60 percent of women believe abortion should either be illegal or allowed only in limited circumstances.
“A vote for this measure simply declares that the state of Oklahoma values life and believes every child is a gift and deserving of protection,” Billy said. “That is not a controversial viewpoint.”
Senate Bill 1433 passed the House Public Health Committee today and now advances to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.