Oklahoma Supreme Court: Personhood Is ‘Clearly Unconstitutional’

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has just struck down a proposed personhood ballot question — which would have granted embryos the rights of people and outlawed all abortions — calling the measure “clearly unconstitutional”:

4. The United States Supreme Court has spoken on this issue. 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. Twenty years ago, this Court was presented with an initiative which facially conflicted with the Casey decision. This Court held: “The issue of the constitutionality of the initiative petition is governed by the United States Supreme Court’s pronouncement in Casey.”

5. The only course available to this Court is to follow what the United States Supreme Court, the final arbiter of the United States Constitution has decreed. In re Initiative Petition 349, 1992 OK 122, ¶ 8, 838 P.2d 1, 5.

6. The mandate of Casey is as binding on this Court today as it was twenty years ago. Initiative Petition No. 395 conflicts with Casey and is void on its face and it is hereby ordered stricken.


In Casey, the Supreme Court held that states may enact some abortion regulations, but they may not “strike at the right itself” to terminate a pregnancy. A law redefining embryos as people is thus a direct attack on women’s constitutional right to choose.