The Oklahoma state Senate has approved legislation that would have the state joining others that have passed a statement of position saying human life begins at conception. A similar measure is moving through the Virginia legislature.
The Oklahoma state Senate approved its measure, SB 1433, by a 34-8 vote, of the bill that confirms, “The life of each human being begins at conception.”
“Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being,” the language of the measure states. “The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
Oklahoma Citizens for Life chairman Tony Lauinger applauded passage of the measure, saying, “We hope that as many lives can be saved as is possible to save, and not only does that benefit the child whose life is spared, but it benefits the mother who steps back from the irrevocable, lethal act of taking her child’s life.”
Sponsored by Tulsa Senator Brian Crain, SB 1433 defines the terms “unborn child” and “unborn children” and the bill is now headed to the state House, where pro-life advocates expect it will be approved.
Crain has modeled his bill after a 1986 Missouri law that was later upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional but not able to affect abortion law.
Defining human life as beginning at conception or fertilization is not a new concept in the pro-life movement as states have defined human life in such a scientifically accurate manner for decades — including before the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that invalidated state abortion bans across the country.
The state of Missouri had approved a statute saying “the life of each human being begins at conception” and “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.” The statute required that all Missouri state laws be interpreted to provide unborn children with rights equal to those enjoyed by other persons. Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the personhood language Missouri used decades ago but did not allow it to ban — or even limit — any abortions.
Like the Oklahoma statute, the Missouri language mandated that state abortion and other laws be interpreted to provide unborn children with “all the rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state, subject only to the Constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court and specific provisions to the contrary in the statutes and constitution of this state.”
In Virginia, the state House approved a bill that says human life begins at conception, or fertilization, sponsored by pro-life state Rep. Bob Marshall.
Last week, the Courts of Justice Committee voted 14-4 to send the state delegate’s bill to the House floor and the bill received approval from the full House today. A similar bill was approved in the state House last year but was killed in a state Senate Committee run by pro-abortion Democrats.
Since HB 1 is not a criminal law, it will not affect the current practice of abortion but it will in fact recognize that unborn children are human beings, Marshall said.