Court Won't Take Up Okla. 'Personhood' Issue; Pro-Life Groups Press for Protection of Human Embryos

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Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a lawsuit over an Oklahoma personhood amendment that sought to grant state constitutional protections to human embryos starting at conception, but pro-life advocates say the issue is far from over.

We have 40,000 volunteers in Oklahoma who are ready to try again, said Jennifer Mason, communications director of Personhood USA.

Opponents, however, said the high court's decision not to consider Personhood Oklahoma v. Barber was just the latest dismissal of measures seeking to give rights and protections to embryos and fetuses.

Today's rejection by the highest court in the nation is yet another resounding message to the opponents of reproductive freedom that such extremist assaults on our fundamental rights will not stand, said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which was one of several groups that successfully blocked a petition drive for the personhood amendment in court earlier this year.

In April, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the proposed personhood amendment was clearly unconstitutional under both state and U.S. constitutions.

Ms. Northrup applauded that decision, which now prevails because of Monday's announcement by the Supreme Court. Pure and simple, these [personhood] tactics are an affront to our nation's Constitution and a bald-faced attempt to foreclose women's access to a full range of reproductive health care, she said.

Mathew D. Staver, founder and chief executive of Liberty Counsel, which joined Personhood Oklahoma in seeking Supreme Court review in Personhood Oklahoma v. Barber, said that the high court's decision had no precedential bearing on the personhood issue, per se.

Instead, it meant the high court decided not to consider whether a state court can interfere with the rights of citizens to gather signatures to amend their constitutions, he said.

On the issue, the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision is wrong. …