Personhood bill raises questions

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Reported by: Sharon Phillips
Updated: 2/20/2012 10:21 am Published: 2/19/2012 6:57 pm

There are plenty of questions surrounding Oklahoma Senate bill 1433.

The bill declares personhood begins at conception. It passed in the Senate and now heads to the House. But many are wondering whether or not this will stop birth control and in vitro fertilization for Oklahoma couples.

Senator Brian Crain authored the bill. He says it’s about giving the unborn a voice of their own. But doctors at the Tulsa Fertility Center are concerned couples using in vitro will be out of luck.

Dr. Stanley Prough has helped families struggling to get pregnant for years. Roughly 75,000 Oklahomans have infertility issues. But with the passing of Senate Bill 1433 declaring personhood begins at conception, he’s concerned about what it could mean for his patients and his job.

“The problem is how do they define conception? There's no definition of that. It's at fertilization. We know that not all eggs that fertilize are going to make an embryo,” says Dr. Prough.

Right now, he has more questions than answers.

“Are couples going to have the option if they don't want to keep those embryos long term? What happens if they have embryos and they die in the lab? Who is going to be responsible,” he says.

He’s worried this will have an extreme impact on couples wanting IVF service in our state. We went straight to the bill’s author to find out.

"There have been some that I think through misinformation and are mixing this up with other personhood bills that have said that this is going to deny people their birth control opportunities and in vitro fertilization. It does none of these things,” says Senator Brian Crain.

Crain says this would not ban abortion either because the Roe versus Wade decision allows it.

"This would not prohibit a woman from having the same abortion tomorrow that she would today,” says Crain.

In regards to the in vitro controversy, he says he actually encourages it for couples looking to get pregnant.

"I have many friends and many close acquaintances that have gone through in vitro fertilization, and it's a great way for them to have children when they wouldn't otherwise be able to,” says Crain.

Regardless, Dr. Prough and many others like him are watching and waiting to see what will happen next.

“If they pass these bills and they make it a crime or I will lose my license for practicing medicine, then I won't stay in this state,” says Prough.

The bill now heads to the Oklahoma House for consideration. If it passes, the bill is set to become active November 1st.

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