Personhood Legislation (SB 1848)

April 28, 2014

            The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance is deeply concerned by the Oklahoma House passage of an amendment to SB 1848.  The legislation would recognize fertilized human eggs as persons.  Many of the supporters of this legislation quote a religious basis for their determination that “The simple truth is, a human conceptus — an embryo — is a human being,” said Rep Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City. “Life belongs to God.”

            The TIA is concerned any time the religious perspectives of one (individual or group) are imposed on those who do not share that belief, especially when public policy is involved.

            We fully support Rep. Hamilton’s religious beliefs, and even her right to use those beliefs to inform her work as a legislator.  However, we must strongly object to her attempt to impose her personal religious beliefs on the citizens of Oklahoma.  Although the majority of Oklahomans would agree with her that life belongs to God, there are plenty of Oklahomans who would disagree, on religious grounds, that a fertilized human egg is a human being.  For centuries, Jewish and Christian scholars have expressed a belief that human life begins when a fetus is infused with a soul, and that occurs when ruach, or ‘breath’ enters the body.  According to such a belief, a fertilized egg would not be a human being.

            Our point is simple:  religious scholars do not agree on the practices of faith in regards to reproductive choices.  If our religious leaders cannot agree on when life begins, what makes our Oklahoma legislators think they have the moral authority to legislate their personal beliefs?

            The Tulsa Interfaith Alliance does not wish to choose one belief over the other, and we do not wish our legislators to impose either opinion, especially when the express intent of the legislation is, according to Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, is to “assure that none of these clinics (those providing abortion services) will prey on vulnerable women.”  We are of the firm opinion that the greatest threat to vulnerable women in Oklahoma is Oklahoma legislators and their continuing assault on women’s health care choices.

            We encourage the Oklahoma Senate to reject the House’s amendment.

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