Elections best avenue to settle contested issues

One way or another, it looks as if Oklahoma is headed for a personhood law. It won't, however, be without a not-unexpected fight.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a lawsuit that, if successful, would prevent a vote of the people in November that would declare that "personhood" begins at conception.

The petition is, of course, another attempt in a list of such attempts to deny the women of Oklahoma their right to have a choice concerning what to do with their own bodies.

This lawsuit is unrelated to a bill making its way through the Legislature, Senate Bill 1443, which also would declare that personhood begins at conception. It, too, would likely end up in court if enacted.

The initiative petition that is being challenged is circulated by a group called Personhood Oklahoma. It requires 155,000 valid signatures to get on the November ballot.

Opponents rightfully believe that it is unconstitutional and warn that if it becomes law it could have a chilling effect on not only women's rights but medical issues that could endanger a woman's life. It also could have implications concerning contraception and in vitro fertilization.

If not derailed by the Legislature, SB 1443 could become law even before the initiative petition is complete.

That brings up an interesting question: Might it be better to allow the petition to go forward and let the voters of Oklahoma decide? If left to the pandering Legislature, it most surely will land on the governor's desk.

A vote of the people might be the best avenue. Similar laws have been rejected by voters in Mississippi and Colorado. The voters of Oklahoma could do the same.

It's a long shot, but it might be worth the gamble. At least we would know for sure exactly where Oklahomans stand and the legislators could stop their tasteless grandstanding.

— Tulsa (Okla.) World

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