Approximately 1,000 people rallied on the north Capitol steps Tuesday to protest the Oklahoma legislative movement to grant personhood status to fertilized eggs in women’s wombs, which would compromise women’s reproductive rights, including access to forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization procedures.
Senate Bill 1443, sponsored by state Sen. Brian Crain, a Republican from Tulsa, would essentially make it Oklahoma law that a person’s legal rights begin at the moment of conception. The anti-abortion bill has already passed the Senate in a 34 to 8 landslide vote. Another personhood bill has been introduced in the House by state Rep. Mike Reynolds, an Oklahoma City Republican.
The rally Tuesday featured a diverse group of speakers, including the poet Lauren Zuniga, state Sens. Connie Johnson, a Democrat from Oklahoma City and Judy McIntyre, a Democrat from Tulsa, endocrinologist Dr. Eli Reshef and several others.
The boisterous crowd carried signs that proclaimed, “Keep Your Rosaries Out Of My Ovaries,” “My Body My Choice,” “My Uterus Is Not Your Ticket To Heaven,” “Women Brought You In 2 This World, Women Will Vote You Out Of This Legislature” and “Women Are People, Not Reproductive Machines.”
Johnson read some of the signs during her speech, and the crowd roared in unison. The state senator also reminded the crowd that more progressive-minded people need to get involved in Oklahoma politics and said she hoped the November elections would bring Democratic victories.
Many women who attended wore aprons and took off their shoes, which were then placed on the Capitol steps and donated to charity. The acts were a symbolic protest against the legislation’s intent to keep women “barefoot and pregnant” in Oklahoma.
The personhood legislation is model legislation this year for the anti-abortion movement in this country. Mississippi voters have already turned down a similar measure, but it has surfaced in other states, including Oklahoma.
Although some advocates of the proposed law say it will not affect access to birth control, overall the issue remains vague and could open the issue to legal ramifications, especially when it comes to Plan B.
The personhood law, if signed into law, would undoubtedly conflict with the 1973 Roe versus Wade ruling concerning abortion and lead to a lawsuit. Such a lawsuit, here or elsewhere, might prompt the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the case and overturn its ruling legalizing abortion.
This much is clear: Women have the right to make informed decisions about their bodies and family planning, and the protest Tuesday will only grow if personhood legislation gets approved here.