Reassuring Our Rights

— by Nancy Northrup, Center for Reproductive Rights

With a unanimous decision yesterday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, we’ve won our legal challenge to strike down a “personhood” ballot initiative that would have given every fertilized egg the full legal rights of a person.

We challenged this initiative as soon as it went on the ballot—arguing that this frontal assault on reproductive rights clearly violated the U.S. Constitution. The Oklahoma court agreed.

It is not acceptable, they ruled, to propose amendments to the state constitution that are “repugnant to the Constitution of the United States.

“Repugnant” is a fitting word to describe this initiative—one of the most extreme and dangerous anti-choice measures we’ve seen.

If passed, the amendment not only would have outlawed abortion in all cases—including in cases of rape or incest, fetal anomalies, or risk to a woman’s life—but also would have banned many forms of birth control and seriously threatened fertility treatments such as IVF.

We don’t need to imagine the dire consequences if this initiative had become law. The Center for Reproductive Rights is working every day in countries around the world where anti-choice zealots have successfully amended their constitutions to define life as beginning at conception—with devastating results.

In El Salvador, for example, many women are driven to clandestine and dangerous abortions. Others are thrown in jail for breaking the law—even those suffering from miscarriages. All women live under a dark cloud of suspicion.

We’re challenging the El Salvador ban in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights—and we’ll continue to fight these measures wherever they arise.

Today, however, this threat to the women of Oklahoma has been shut down. And in affirming our request to strike down the ballot measure, the court has also struck a powerful blow against the tactics of those who seek to vote down the rights of others, and to enshrine their hostility to women’s lives, health, and rights in the laws of the land.