COMMENTARY | Legislators in two distinctly different areas of the nation passed legislation that is as far apart in intent and content as the two states involved. The New Jersey House of Delegates, according to the L.A. Times, voted in favor of gay marriage while the Oklahoma Senate voted in favor of a personhood bill, says Reuters. The implications of New Jersey's legislation are straightforward; the implications of Oklahoma's legislation are more unclear and would set back women's control over their bodies back to the Dark Ages.
To be fair, Oklahoma's Republican-lead Senate was actually second to Virginia's Republican-lead House of Representatives in passing personhood/anti-abortion legislation; Virginia passed its bill on Tuesday, one day ahead of their Oklahoma counterparts.
Oklahoma's proposed personhood legislation does not ban abortion outright because, as Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, explained in Tulsa World, banning abortion would be in opposition to Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court's determination that abortion is legal. Crain, the bill's author, asserts the bill would not prohibit in vitro fertilization or contraception. These words of assurance would be easier to believe if they weren't coming from the same man who can blithely say that this measure is not an anti-abortion law.
But the personhood measure, which defines human life to begin at the moment of conception, has the potential to be used against in vitro fertilization, the process used by physicians to fertilize a woman's eggs outside of her body. In the process, more than one egg is often fertilized and while the woman can be implanted with more than one embryo, sometimes the excess embryos are frozen or discarded. Under a personhood law, this could be deemed illegal activity.
Intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are contraceptive devices that function by making the uterine walls a place where a fertilized egg cannot implant and thus may fall under the personhood legislation.
Additionally, Oklahoma's personhood legislation, as explained in the Chicago Tribune, makes no provision for pregnancy that results from rape or incest. It does, however, state that a woman who miscarries will not be subject to legal action; that's thankfully so, because next the legislature might want to imprison people for other medical accidents or acts of God.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.
- Oklahoma Senate