OKLAHOMA CITY — With the Oklahoma Legislature having outlawed abortion in almost all instances in the state, Oklahomans might get a chance to legalize abortion themselves through a state question.
Backers of State Question 828 are awaiting permission from the Secretary of State’s Office to start gathering signatures after passing the first protest period.
The proposed Oklahoma constitutional amendment would establish a new individual right to reproductive freedom, according to the measure.
It would include the right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy, such as contraception, sterilization, abortion, miscarriage management and infertility, according to the measure.
The measure would allow the state to regulate abortion after fetal viability but not prohibit an abortion if it’s medically needed to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health.
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The amendment would prohibit the state from discriminating against enforcement of the right and would prohibit prosecution of an individual, or a person helping a pregnant individual, for exercising the rights.
The amendment also would invalidate state laws that conflict with it.
The measure comes after the state passed several laws making it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion here. It also comes after the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its Roe v. Wade decision, which recognized a constitutional right to abortion nationwide.
The Supreme Court’s new standard, set in June in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, allows states to determine whether they will allow abortions.
Proponents of the measure are Roger Lee Coody-Rosamond of Tulsa, Rachel Anne Tafoya of Bixby and Maegan Louise Kandi Richison of Tulsa.
“If we are truly self-governing, we should be able to govern our own bodies,” said Coody-Rosamond.
“My whole life I have been surrounded by women,” he said. “I am very protective of them and so happy to help them any way I can. It is so sad all of this has just snowballed for them.”
Coody-Rosamond said supporters will have 90 days to gather signatures on a petition once they get the green light from the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office.
Supporters will need to collect 172,993 signatures, a number equal to 15% of the 1,153,284 votes cast in the recent gubernatorial election.
Coody-Rosamond said he hopes to collect 200,000 signatures.
Supporters want the measure placed on the March 7 ballot, but whether that is possible was not immediately clear.
Gov. Kevin Stitt has set a March 7 special election for State Question 820, which seeks to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Voters have already legalized medical marijuana.
If the petition is approved by voters and the individual right to reproductive freedom is written into the Oklahoma Constitution, any changes to it would require another vote of the people.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, said he plans to file legislation to put legalizing abortion on the ballot.
He said he believes it will be difficult to get it passed through the Oklahoma Legislature but that he is hearing and reading about a lot of support for it.
Republicans, who have a supermajority in both legislative chambers, have filed numerous bills to put more regulations on abortion and to ban or criminalize the procedure.