Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Two Anti-Abortion Bills

Thursday, May 19th 2016, 11:49 am
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Oklahoma lawmakers on Thursday passed two anti-abortion bills.

The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. The Center for Reproductive Rights says the measure is the first of its kind in the nation. The bill also would restrict any physician who performs an abortion from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in Oklahoma.

It was drafted by State Senate Candidate Paul Blair.

"A doctor cannot intentionally break his Hippocratic oath and intentionally try to kill that unborn child and retain his license to practice in the state of Oklahoma," said Blair. "So, this is a different angle but it's absolutely purely constitutional."

With no discussion or debate, the Senate voted 33-12 Thursday for the bill by Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm.

A handful of Republicans joined with Democrats in voting against the bill, which now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin. A spokesman says Fallin will withhold comment until her staff has time to review it.

The bill does allow for certain exceptions, like saving the life of the mother. Dahm says he's hopeful the measure could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. He says the Supreme Court has been wrong before.

"In the Dred Scott decision which was one of the worst decisions in court history, they said that African Americans were considered property and not people. And so the court has been inconsistent with what its definition of what a person is," said Dahm.

Dahm says the liberty council, which is a legal organization that defends Christian litigation, will defend the bill pro bono so there will be no cost to taxpayers if it is challenged in court.

Abortion rights groups have said the bill is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma House has passed legislation that requires the state Department of Health to develop informational material "for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society," but lawmakers didn't approve any funding for it.

The House voted 69-15 on Thursday for the measure, which now goes to the Senate.

The Humanity of the Unborn Child Act by Republican Rep. Ann Coody of Lawton authorizes the health department to develop a public information campaign about the developmental stages of a fetus and alternatives to abortion. It also authorizes an optional instructional program for students.

A previous version of the bill that required Oklahoma's public schools to teach that life begins at conception was amended in the Senate.

Coody says the legislation can only be implemented if funding is available in the future.