A Year of Pro-Life
Successes in Oklahoma
BY Liz Townsend
Oklahoma pro-lifers turned
judicial defeat into legislative triumph this year as they passed
seven separate bills based on two omnibus laws invalidated by the
courts on a technicality.
“We have wonderful pro-life
legislators in Oklahoma who are determined to protect unborn
children, pregnant women, and health-care professionals to the
maximum extent possible,” Tony Lauinger, NRLC Vice President and
state chairman of Oklahomans For Life, told NRL News. “They have
shown repeatedly through their life-affirming votes that they are
committed to defending that most vulnerable little member of our
human family, the innocent, helpless child waiting to be born.”
The courts ruled that the
2008 and 2009 laws violated the state’s single-subject rule because
they contained too many dissimilar provisions. So the measures were
divided into seven separate bills. Six have been enacted in 2010,
and the seventh, having passed the House and the Senate, awaits
final approval of the conference committee report.
So far, Gov. Brad Henry has
signed four of the bills into law; Henry vetoed two others but the
legislature overrode the vetoes; and one is awaiting final passage.
Two bills came from the 2009
law that was struck down.
• SB 1890 prohibits an
abortionist from performing an abortion “with knowledge that the
pregnant female is seeking the abortion solely on account of the sex
of the unborn child.” It was signed by Gov. Brad Henry April 2.
• HB 3284 provides that
abortions be reported, including the reasons the abortion was sought
and any complications. Both houses approved the bill but in slightly
different forms; it will be considered by a conference committee
before final approval.
Five more bills began as
part of the 2008 omnibus law.
• SB 1891 affirms the right
of health care professionals not to participate in abortions or
other actions that cause the destruction of an innocent human life.
Henry approved the bill April 2.
• SB 1902 requires the
abortionist to be in the room when the abortifacient RU486 is
administered. This is particularly important in light of the growing
evidence of a trend to set up satellite abortion clinics where the
abortionist is available not in person but by video. The law also
requires the woman be properly monitored subsequently. Henry signed
this bill April 2 as well.
• HB 3075 protects women
from coercion by requiring abortion clinics to post a sign stating
that it is against the law for anyone to force her to have an
abortion. Minors also must be informed of their rights and sign a
consent form. This bill was approved by Henry April 23.
• HB 2656 denies claims for
“wrongful life” lawsuits that contend that a disabled baby would
have been better off if he or she had been aborted. The law states
that “the birth of a child does not constitute a legally
recognizable injury and that it is contrary to public policy to
award damages because of the birth of a child or for the rearing of
that child.” Henry vetoed this bill April 23, but the legislature
overrode the veto April 27.
• HB 2780 requires abortion
clinics to perform ultrasounds at least one hour before every
abortion and position the screen so the woman, if she wishes, can
see the images. If she chooses not to see her child, the abortionist
is still obliged to describe the images, including the baby’s size,
heartbeat, limbs, and internal organs, if they can be seen. It was
also vetoed by Henry but overridden by the legislature.
The court battle continues
on this last bill, as Attorney General Drew Edmondson agreed May 3
to accept a temporary restraining order while he prepares to defend
a challenge from pro-abortionists. The Center for Reproductive
Rights filed suit claiming that the law intrudes on the
doctor-patient relationship, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Law professor Teresa Collett,
who has successfully defended several Oklahoma pro-life laws in the
past, as well as representing Oklahoma during the 2008 and 2009
court cases, told the AP that the bill is consistent with standard
medical practice. “It would be remarkable if a woman would undergo a
medical procedure and a doctor would not have an obligation to
describe the procedure and the results of that procedure to the
patient,” Collett said.
An eighth pro-life bill
joined the other successful legislation in 2010. HB 3290, based on
National Right to Life’s model statute, prohibits all health plans
offered through the state exchange in Oklahoma from including
coverage for elective abortions. A conference committee is currently
resolving differences between the Senate and House versions of this
Oklahoma pro-lifers are
determined to keep working with legislators to pass more laws
protecting women and their unborn children. “We will continue to try
to serve the Oklahoma legislature in the future, relying on the
expert guidance and help of National Right to Life’s director of
state legislation, Mary Spaulding Balch,” Lauinger added.