Check out the original Personhood post here.
Since my first visit to the state capitol as an advocate for IVF families and campaigning against Personhood I have been a busy little bee. I have been to the capitol several times and even got a couple of more friends involved. One friend, Kate, got involved because she is also an IVF mom and felt like she couldn’t sit back and be silent.
One day at the capitol with Kate and BFF, Susan and I showed them the ropes of pulling representatives off the House floor. We wandered the halls where their offices were and talked to anybody who would listen. One person we really wanted to talk to was the House Minority Leader. We didn’t know where he stood on the issue so we felt it was important to speak with him. Who should we run into out in the hallway but Mr. Minority Leader himself. We voiced our concerns about Personhood, we talked about my frozen embryos and Kate pulled out the big guns and showed him pictures of her kids and gave a quick synopsis of her story. It’s a powerful one. He took us very seriously and we allowed ourselves a small victory dance.
Thursday before my sister-in-law’s wedding I was checking FB for any news on the issue and read the best news of the week. The Speaker of the House had decided that the bill was not to be heard on the House floor. They would not get to vote on it.
“The House Republican Caucus voted today not to hear the personhood bill on the House floor. This decision was not made unilaterally, but as a caucus collectively. I accept the will of our caucus. The fact is this bill sends a statement Oklahoma has already made. We’re already perhaps the most pro-life state in this country, having passed at least 30 various pro-life measures in the past eight years alone. You will not find a bigger friend of the unborn than this Legislature, but this bill would not have any substantive policy effect.” – House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee
In other words it was dead.
I kept reading and rereading to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. It seemed too good to be true…and it was.
The next week the powers that be were planning a move to circumvent the Speaker and bring the bill to the floor anyway. Nobody knew exactly the day or time this would happen so people who opposed Personhood were encouraged to go to the capitol (wearing pink) and sit in the gallery of the House. On Tuesday Kate and I again went to take our stand. Actually we went to take a seat. There isn’t much you can do in the House gallery except sit there and quietly watch everything that goes on. During this time a House Resolution was up for debate and vote. The resolution basically said that Oklahoma believes that life begins as conception. A resolution is not a law, it’s just basically saying “we’re making a statement, so there.” (the resolution passed, by the way) During the debate a certain representative who is known for being behind the Personhood movement as well as a hot head made a comment referring to the people in the gallery (me, Kate, the other anti-Personhood people) as “pro-death.” Did I just hear that right? Did he just call me pro-death? Who the heck does he think he is? When the session broke for recess Kate and I decided to pay that representative a little visit at his office. He wasn’t there but we both left long written messages about how offended we were by his comment. I offered my phone number if he would like to explain himself. I never heard from him that day. We left feeling weary and beat down.
The next day I found a clean pink shirt and headed back to OKC. Harry was with me that day so I decided to try my luck at how well a toddler can act at the capitol. Kate, Susan and another friend were there as well (in addition to about 40+ pink-wearing-anti-personhood supporters) The activist gods were smiling down on me that day because Harry was as good as gold. We sat in the gallery and quietly read books for about an hour. Once he got fidgety I gave him a little capitol tour so he could get the wiggles out. I decided to take him to that certain “pro-death” spouting representative’s office (ahem…cough…Reynolds…cough). I didn’t expect to see him there but wanted to talk to his assistant. The previous day I didn’t take the time to tell her why I was opposing the bill and I regretted that. I introduced her to Harry, he turned on the charm and we were having a nice conversation when who should walk in? Representative Reynolds himself. I introduced myself to him and introduced Harry as my 2 year old who was once a frozen embryo. His response was “Well now aren’t you glad you didn’t get rid of him?” I was stunned and didn’t know what to say to that. I’m not sure exactly what I said b/c it was so surreal. Harry jumped in, (unprompted) held out his tiny hand and said “nice to meet you” in his precious 2 year old voice. It was priceless!
We proceeded to have a civil yet fruitless dialog about Personhood. I knew that there was absolutely nothing that I could say to him to make him change his mind and visa versa. He kept insisting that all it was doing was defining life as beginning at conception. I tried to argue that if that became law then what about the consequences of the rights he wanted to give all those embryo-people. Should I claim my frozen embryos on my taxes or put them on my insurance? I asked if he honestly thought I was keeping “persons” in a freezer by having my embryos kept in cryopreservation. He said he did and to the other points he said something to the effect of, “isn’t it a shame that the IVF doctors have put people like (me) in a predicament to have to ask these type of questions.” WHAT?!!? I responded that no, it’s not the IVF doctors it’s politicians putting us in this predicament. After a couple of minutes he brushed me off and started talking to his assistant. I thanked him for his time, thanked his assistant, and left. I left feeling stunned and speechless. I walked away and the realization dawned on me that people like him, people who are making laws and voting on them and representing the people of this state…people like him that believe a fertilized egg is a person, think that IVF and cryopreservation is immoral and unethical. Now I don’t know that for a fact but everything he told me led me to believe as much. I also felt fairly certain that Personhood USA and their radical agenda has him in their back pocket.
That same day Kate was able to talk to her representative who also happens to be the bill’s co-author on the House side. Kate’s conversation with Representative Billy was a huge victory in and of itself.
That evening and the next day attempts were made by Representative Reynolds to suspend the Speaker’s decision not to have the bill heard. Both times he was told his requests were not in line with the proper channels or parliamentary procedures or something like that. There weren’t enough people there to support his effort, he threw a tantrum when his mic was turned off and was nearly escorted out. Victory to say the least.
I’m happy to report that as of April 27th, SB 1433 is dead.
I can put Personhood in the grave…until November. I’m fairly certain it will rear its ugly head with a ballot initiative for the people to vote on. Once that mess comes around this fall you can count on me to start campaigning against this ridiculousness. I’m sorry. I’m going to go a head an apologize for the noise I’m going to make.
For now, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to read. Thank you for taking the time to think. The issues of pro-life and pro-choice are not as easy as black and white. There is a whole lot of gray and I understand that can make people uncomfortable. I sincerely thank you for taking a look at this crazy issue even if it does make you uncomfortable.