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NRL News
Page 5
June 2009
Volume 36
Issue 6

Oklahoma Bans Sex-Selection Abortion as
Part of Comprehensive Abortion-Reporting Law

By Dave Andrusko

In spite of having a pro-abortion governor, Oklahoma on May 21 enacted a comprehensive abortion-reporting bill which also prohibits sex-selection abortions. HB 1595, the chief legislative priority of Oklahomans For Life this session, is a multifaceted pro-life measure which was approved overwhelmingly by both houses of the legislature. Mary Spaulding Balch, National Right to Life’s director of state legislation, says the reporting provisions are “the most comprehensive in the nation.”

Also becoming law on May 21 was HB 1114, which bans all cloning of human embryos, whether for “research” or “reproductive” purposes.

“We applaud the efforts of our Oklahoma affiliate, Oklahomans For Life, in shepherding these two bills through the legislative process,” said Balch. “Through the guidance and leadership provided by Oklahomans For Life, pro-lifers have enacted a series of laws over the past five years which protect Oklahoma mothers and their unborn children from the abortion industry, which is often highly unregulated.”

Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans For Life, hailed the work of pro-life legislators. “We have the greatest admiration and appreciation for the courageous, committed, creative, and uncompromising pro-life legislators with whom we are privileged to work,” he said. “They don’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’”

Self-described “pro-choice” Democrat Governor Brad Henry broke his recent pattern of vetoing pro-life bills and signed both bills into law. He may have concluded that a veto would be overridden by the legislature or, as some speculate, he may be thinking of running against pro-life incumbent U.S. Senator Tom Coburn in the 2010 U.S. Senate race—in which case Governor Henry may have decided to try to make his own pro-abortion position less obvious to Oklahoma voters by signing the bills.

Had the governor vetoed the abortion-reporting/sex-selection bill, he faced the probability of being overridden. On May 15, the state Senate joined the House in giving overwhelming approval to HB 1595. The vote was 35–9. On May 13, the vote in the House had been 88–6. There was still no assurance Henry would sign the bill, however.

Thirty-two votes would have been required in the 48-member Senate to override a veto had the governor followed that course.

Democrat Henry signed pro-life bills into law in both 2005 and 2006. However, after he was re-elected in 2006 for the second and final time (because of term limits), Henry vetoed pro-life bills in 2007 and 2008. He also vetoed a bill (HB 1326) on April 22 of this year that would have prohibited embryo-destructive stem-cell research. Although the House overrode the veto, the Senate came up short of the necessary votes to override.

In response, pro-life legislators inserted into another bill language banning the cloning of human embryos. That bill, HB 1114, passed both the House and the Senate on May 15. After having repeatedly made the argument, in defense of his veto of HB 1326, that so-called “surplus” embryos at fertility clinics “are going to be discarded anyway,” the governor would have been hard-pressed to justify vetoing a cloning ban which prohibits the creation of human lives for the purpose of destroying them. The cloning ban passed both the House and the Senate without opposition, and a veto of that bill would certainly have been overridden.

The only override of an Oklahoma governor’s veto in the past 15 years occurred in 2008 after Henry vetoed a bill requiring that an ultrasound be done before an abortion is performed.

Lauinger said that sex-selection abortions are a serious problem in some parts of the world, especially in China, India, Korea, and Vietnam. “There is evidence of the same trend among families from those countries who live in the United States,” he said.

“‘DNA Gender Test Kits’ are now available online, and can determine the sex of an unborn child as early as seven weeks after conception,” Lauinger explained. “In an age of ‘designer’ babies, some parents are tempted to screen for the child they want, and then turn to abortion if the child is the ‘wrong’ sex.”

Asked how he felt about the successful conclusion of the legislative session, Lauinger responded, “Having a self-described ‘pro-choice’ Democratic governor is more than offset by having—for the first time in state history—Republican pro-life majorities in both the Senate and the House.” He added, “This strong Republican pro-life leadership made possible the gains that were achieved this year in defending our littlest sisters and brothers.”

“And the mastermind behind all of this,” Lauinger said, “was, once again, NRL’s Mary Spaulding Balch. Mary’s expertise, helpfulness, creativity, encouragement, resilience, availability, magnanimity, patience, and guidance were absolutely indispensable. Mary Balch is the unborn child’s absolute best friend.”