December 2012 Church & State | AU Bulletin

The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear a case that sought to allow Oklahomans to vote on a “personhood” amendment.

Without comment, the justices turned down Personhood Oklahoma v. Barber. The Oct. 29 decision leaves in place a holding by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which struck down the personhood amendment before it ever reached the state ballot.

When the Oklahoma court blocked the initiative in April, Personhood Oklahoma, the group behind the effort, was still gathering signatures to get the measure before the voters in November. The ruling said the personhood initiative conflicted with the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which generally reaffirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion.

If passed, the amendment would have defined a person as “any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death.” It would also have granted due process and equal protection rights to fetuses from the moment of conception.

The effort in Oklahoma is part of a nationwide scheme by Colorado-based Personhood USA, which seeks full legal rights for fetuses. Similar measures have popped up in Virginia, Arizona, Mississippi and Colorado.