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The petitioners are seeking a vote to enshrine reproductive rights in the Oklahoma Constitution < Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – Since the Oklahoma Legislature has banned abortion in nearly all cases in the state, Oklahoma residents may be given the opportunity to legalize abortion themselves through a state issue.

Supporters of State Question 828 are awaiting the Secretary of State’s permission to begin collecting signatures after the first protest deadline.

The proposed Oklahoma constitutional amendment would create a new individual right to reproductive freedom, according to the measure.

It would include the right to make and carry out all decisions related to pregnancy, such as contraception, sterilization, abortion, treatment of miscarriage and infertility, under the measure.

The measure would allow the state to regulate abortion based on the viability of the fetus, but would not ban an abortion if it is medically necessary 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 law and would prohibit prosecuting an individual or someone who assists a pregnant person for exercising the rights.

The amendment would also invalidate state laws that contradict it.

The measure comes after the state passed several laws making it nearly impossible to obtain an abortion here. It also comes after the US Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, which recognizes a constitutional right to abortion nationwide.

The Supreme Court’s new standard, set in June in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, allows states to choose whether to allow abortions.

Proponents of the measure include Tulsa’s Roger Lee Coody-Rosamond, Bixby’s Rachel Anne Tafoya and Tulsa’s Maegan Louise Kandi Richison.

“If we truly govern ourselves, then we should be able to govern our own bodies,” Coody-Rosamond said.

“All my life I’ve been surrounded by women,” he said. “I am very protective of them and I am happy to help them in any way I can. It’s so sad that all of this is just a snowball for her.”

Coody-Rosamond said supporters have 90 days to collect signatures on a petition once they receive the green light from the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office.

Supporters must collect 172,993 signatures, a number that is 15% of the 1,153,284 votes cast in the recent gubernatorial election.

Coody-Rosamond said he hopes to collect 200,000 signatures.

Proponents want the measure to be put on the March 7 ballot, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether that would be possible.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has scheduled a March 7 special election for State 820, which aims to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Voters have already legalized medical marijuana.

If the petition is accepted by voters and the individual right to reproductive freedom is enshrined in the Oklahoma Constitution, any changes to it would require another popular vote.

Meanwhile, Rep. Mickey Dollens of D-Oklahoma City said he plans to introduce legislation to put abortion legal on the ballot.

He said he believes it will be difficult to get it through the Oklahoma legislature, but that he has heard and read a lot of support for it.

Republicans, who hold a majority in both chambers of the legislature, have introduced numerous bills to regulate abortion more tightly and to outlaw or criminalize the procedure.

Total abortion bans versus exemptions can become a matter of religion, science, rights and politics. Ginnie Graham interviews author Barry Friedman on this week’s bonus podcast on the subject.