(CN) – The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a ballot measure that would have asked voters to grant human embryos “personhood” rights in November.
Deemed unconstitutional by the unanimous court, the proposal sought to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to include “the beginning of biological development” in the definition of a human being.
The justices ruled Monday that the measure “is void on its face.”
“The United States Supreme Court has spoken on this issue,” Chief Justice Steven W. Taylor wrote for the court. “The measure is clearly unconstitutional pursuant to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). The states are duty bound to follow its interpretation of the law.”
On March 29, the New York-based Center For Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and several Oklahoma residents filed a protest with the court, seeking to stop the gathering of signatures for the ballot measure by the group Personhood Oklahoma.
The amendment would have read, “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.”
Hours after the ruling, Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the amendment “would have run roughshod over the fundamental, constitutionally protected reproductive rights of all Oklahoma women.”
“In affirming our request to strike it down, the court has struck a powerful blow against the repugnant 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,” Northup’s statement concluded.
Personhood Oklahoma said Tuesday that its only recourse is to petition the U.S. Supreme Court, noting that Justice Antonin Scalia upheld state rights on abortion permissibility in a dissenting opinion to Casey.
Steve Crampton, an attorney Personhood Oklahoma through Liberty Counsel, said the Oklahoma court’s “ruling epitomizes judicial overreaching.”
“It not only misinterprets and misapplies federal constitutional law, but it also denies states’ rights and strips Oklahomans of their right to petition for a substantive change in state law, which is guaranteed under the state constitution,” Crampton said in a statement. “We are hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will reverse this decision.”