First Person: Personhood Act & making a difference
Many years since Roe v. Wade—many unborn children killed—but many lives saved!
Oklahoma pro-life citizens are making history each year as we enact legislation that protects the sanctity of the unborn. We are faced again with the opportunity to make a difference. This year, we have a significant opportunity to make a difference that sticks—The Personhood Act.
The Personhood Act affirms that “The life of each human being begins at conception,” and that “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.”
During the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, three pro-life resolutions were passed. One in particular deals with a critical issue Oklahomans are faced with this year. The Resolution On The Unborn particularly addressed the personhood issue:
“We, the messengers to the 2011 Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, meeting at First Baptist Church, Moore, Oklahoma, November 14-15, 2011, continue to place a special emphasis on the sanctity of preborn human life, recognizing life begins at conception. Our consciences are moved by the many Scriptures that compel us to protect life. Furthermore, we support legislation that curbs abortion and encourage lawmakers to enact statutes that acknowledge the full personhood of the unborn. We reaffirm our commitment of being a voice for every unborn child, created in all circumstances, by defending their right to live and be recognized as a person.”
In response to the unanimous support of Oklahoma Baptists, we respectfully ask legislators’ support of SB 1433, the Personhood Act authored by Sen. Brian Crain and Rep. Lisa Billy.
Experts have shared that the Personhood Act is a strong, clear statement that it is the policy of the State of Oklahoma to protect innocent children. It lays the foundation for legal protections for children in the womb to the fullest extent permitted under U.S. Supreme Court precedents. It would provide valuable evidence that Oklahoma has a compelling state interest in protecting children in the womb in court cases involving other pro-life laws, now and in the future.
The Personhood Act is constitutional and based on a Missouri law, which was reviewed and allowed to stand by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1989 Webster decision. The pro-abortion majority currently on the U.S. Supreme Court is not likely to allow Oklahoma to use the Personhood Act or any other law to protect unborn children from abortion. However, that same Court is likely to uphold the Personhood Act for the purpose of expressing state values. It is the affirmation of the value of human life prior to birth that constitutes the most important reason for enacting SB 1433.
The Personhood Act is a critical bill for reflecting the value that our state places on each innocent human life.
Petitions are being generated urging the passage of the Personhood Act. The petition can be downloaded at www.bgco.org/ERLC.
Please contact your state senator and representative and urge support for this vital pro-life measure. You can identify your representative at www.bgco.org/erlc by clicking on the Legislator Locator link, typing in your address and then scrolling down to your state senator and representative. They need to hear from you.
Heidi Wilburn is ethics and religious liberty consultant with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.