The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights on Thursday filed a lawsuit against an anti-abortion "personhood" ballot measure on behalf of six Oklahoma voters.


“By their own admission, the proponents of this initiative aim to strip women and families of their established right to decide whether and when to become pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term,” said Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “This initiative insults Oklahoma women’s intelligence and dignity by denying access to basic health services.”

The lawsuit urges the state Supreme Court to block Oklahoma’s personhood amendment petition effort because it is allegedly unconstitutional. The amendment would grant fertilized eggs and embryos the same constitutional rights as people, thereby completely prohibiting a woman from terminating her pregnancy, even in cases of incest or rape.

“A ‘person’ as referred to in Article 2, Section 2 of this Constitution shall be defined as any human being from the beginning of the biological development of that human being to natural death. The inherent rights of such person shall not be denied without due process of law and no person as defined herein shall be denied equal protection under the law due to age, place of residence, or medical condition,” the amendment reads.

Critics of the amendments claimed that it would do more than just outlaw abortion. The ACLU said it would also affect common birth control methods, the treatment of ectopic pregnancy, in vitro fertilization treatment, and stem cell research.

“It’s been nearly four decades since the Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to safe, legal abortion services,” said Talcott Camp, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Yet state legislatures continue to attack that right through dangerous, outrageous initiatives such as this one. This is unacceptable. We must respect a woman’s capacity to make private, personal decisions about her reproductive health with her doctor and her family.”

[Image via UTSFL via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]