Tulsa Lawmaker Defends 'Personhood' Bill

Friday, February 17th 2012, 9:27 pm
By: News On 6

A controversial bill is being considered by Oklahoma lawmakers. It says that life begins at conception. But the Personhood Bill left a lot of questions about abortion and fertility treatments unanswered.

Tulsa lawmaker Republican Senator Brian Crain, who backed the bill in the State Senate, says all this bill does is define when life begins.

He says it fills in the gap between where Oklahoma law currently stands and what the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

It's the question that divides the nation: when does life begin? State lawmakers say it will no longer divide Oklahoma.

The Personhood Bill states life begins at conception. It says the unborn child has rights the rest of us have. And that the parents of the unborn child also have rights.

State Senator Crain from says that means the mother can make certain decisions for that child.

"It doesn't outlaw abortion. It doesn't outlaw in vitro fertilization," Crain said.

State lawmakers are facing backlash from fertility doctors and the families they've helped.

"What happens now in the lab when an embryo doesn't survive? Is that a crime scene now?" asked Dr. Eli Reshef, Infertility Specialist.

Senator Crain says he wants to make clear fertility treatments will not be banned.

"No one will be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter in Oklahoma for invitro fertilization use on this," Senator Crain said.

Senator Crain also clarified abortions in Oklahoma are still legal.

"When you start talking about rape and incest, if a woman would want to terminate the pregnancy, that is allowed under Roe vs. Wade," he said.

Oklahoma lawmakers based the Personhood Bill's language on a Missouri statute from 1986.

"Every word that we've got has passed Constitutional muster," Senator Crain said. "This is about as far as we can go in protecting the rights of the unborn."

Senator Crain says other states are also considering Personhood Bills, and all the versions are a little bit different, so that may be why so many people are confused.

Oklahoma's Personhood Bill needs approval from the state House and Governor Fallin before it becomes law.