Oklahoma petition to enshrine abortion rights withdrawn

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A group of Oklahoma residents has withdrawn a petition that sought to put a state question on the ballot that would protect the right to an abortion.

Records show the proponents of the citizen-led initiative petition notified the Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday of their plans to withdraw.

The group was led by Roger Coody, a hairstylist from Tulsa with no formal legal training who said he was hoping to protect the rights of women in his state. Messages left Thursday for Coody were not immediately returned.

Supporters of the petition would have had 90 days to gather more than 173,000 signatures from registered voters to qualify the question for the ballot.

If approved by voters, it would have enshrined the right to an abortion in the Oklahoma Constitution until fetal viability, which is approximately 24 weeks into a pregnancy, and invalidated any state laws that conflicted.

The effort followed voters in six other states this year rejecting measures to restrict abortion access or supported efforts to protect it. Those states included liberal California and Vermont, but also more conservative Kansas and Kentucky, as well as swing-state Michigan. In Montana, voters rejected a measure that would have required health providers to take steps to save the life of an infant born alive, including after an attempted abortion.

Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Legislature has passed several laws making it illegal to perform an abortion in the state, with exceptions only to save the life of the mother.

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