OKLAHOMA CITY — An initiative petition to make abortion illegal will not withstand legal scrutiny, said Ryan Kiesel, ACLU of Oklahoma executive director.
“It is abundantly clear that any measure that would interfere with a woman’s constitutionally protected reproductive rights, including the legal right to have access to abortion, is unconstitutional,” Kiesel said Friday.
Thomas R. Hunter on Jan. 27 filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office indicating he wanted to circulate an initiative petition to make abortion illegal. His petition would amend the Oklahoma Constitution to add a new section.
“The measure prohibits abortion,” according to the ballot title. “The measure would not prohibit contraception that merely prevents fertilization, but does not cause the death of an unborn human being.
“The measure would prohibit contraception that causes the death of an unborn human being. The measure would also prohibit the deliberate destruction of unborn human beings created in a laboratory. The measure would not prohibit practices such as in vitro fertilization, but any unborn human beings created as a result of such procedure could not be deliberately destroyed.”
Kiesel said his organization could launch a protest before the signatures are gathered to keep it off the ballot or challenge it later should the necessary signatures be collected to get it on the ballot.
The landmark but controversial U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, legalized abortion but allowed state regulations.
Hunter, 35, of Norman, said he recognizes the legal argument, but disagrees.
“The question is whether or not the Supreme Court ruling that born people have the right to kill unborn people was, in fact, constitutional in the first place,” Hunter said. “That is what needs to be challenged.
“You can search day and night through the Constitution and you will never find one line supporting the idea that human beings can be deprived of the right to live simply because they are small, weak and unwanted.”
Hunter said he is an evangelical and missionary who uses graphic design to produce materials to spread the gospel and teach people about loving one another. He said he has not raised any money to collect signatures or to promote his cause. He said the idea is to prohibit abortion as murder instead of regulating as a right.
“A ballot initiative to ban abortion and some forms of contraception in Oklahoma would mean that Oklahomans’ constitutional rights are up to a public vote — that’s not how our U.S. Constitution works,” said Kelly Baden, director of state advocacy for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has successfully challenged Oklahoma laws that put restrictions on abortion.
“We are all guaranteed these rights, no matter where we live,” Baden said. “Fortunately, voters in other states have rejected similar extreme measures when given the chance — in places like South Dakota, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Colorado — and I am sure Oklahomans would do the same.”
To get the measure on the ballot in November, 123,725 signatures are required.
Signatures could be collected following a protest period. The measure is State Question 782.
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465