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Oklahoma senate passes bill granting personhood to the unborn

The Oklahoma Senate [official website] on Wednesday voted to pass a bill [SB 1433 text; materials] that defines life as beginning at the moment of conception. The bill passed 34-8 and will advance to the State House for consideration. If passed, the bill would effectively ban abortions [JURIST news archive] in the state. Oklahoma Senator Brian Bingman (R) [official profile], a co-author of the Bill, said [press release] its passage made a "loud clear statement" about Oklahoma's position in the abortion debate. The bill is designed to expand all personhood rights to the unborn:

The life of each human being begins at conception;...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.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin [official profile], who signed legislation [JURIST report] last year banning abortions after 20 weeks, did not comment [Reuters report] on the new legislation.

Many states have recently been considering laws either limiting or banning abortions. Earlier this week, the Virginia House of Delegates [official website] passed a similar bill that would also define life as beginning at conception [JURIST report]. Earlier this month, the Virginia Senate approved legislation requiring a woman to have an ultrasound before an abortion [JURIST report]. Last November, Mississippi voters rejected [JURIST report] a ballot measure [Initiative 26 materials] that would have amended the state constitution to define the word "person" or "persons" to include "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof." The initiative, which would have given fetuses rights from the moment of conception, was defeated by more than 55 percent of the state's voters. In October 2011, an Oklahoma state court judge issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] against a new Oklahoma law that restricts how doctors may use abortion-inducing drugs to treat patients.

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