OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ With a legislative deadline looming, Republican legislative leaders urged the Democrat-controlled Senate Monday to schedule hearings on a slate of measures that supporters say would reduce the number of abortions in Oklahoma.
Measures to strengthen an informed consent law passed last year and regulate distribution of the so-called morning after pill are assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, where four similar bills died in February when they were not heard.
House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, and Senate Minority Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said they are concerned the House-passed bills may also not be heard prior to Thursday's deadline for House measures to be considered by Senate committees.
``It's critical that they be heard,'' Coffee said. ``The Senate Democratic leadership shouldn't be the reason these bills die.''
``This is not a partisan issue,'' Hiett said.
Mike Jestes of Oklahoma City, executive director of the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, urged Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, to bypass the committee process and send the legislation straight to the Senate floor.
``This isn't a game and it shouldn't be treated like a game,'' Jestes said.
``We think the unborn child should be supported by both parties in the Legislature,'' said Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life.
Morgan has no plans to pull the bills from committee, spokesman Robin Maxey said.
``We're going to focus on important policy issues and not get bogged down in ideological debate,'' Maxey said.
The committee's chairman, Sen. Bernest Cain, D-Oklahoma City, said last week he was reviewing the measures and had not decided whether to allow a hearing.
Among other things, the bills would require girls under 18 to get their parents' permission before an abortion and require women who are 20 weeks or more pregnant be informed that their fetus could experience pain during an abortion.
Other measures would create a ``conscience clause'' for pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication that may end a pregnancy or assist in mercy killing and require physicians to report statistical data regarding abortions and natural miscarriages to the Department of Health.
Several of the measures faced stiff opposition in the House. Opponents said a ``conscience clause'' bill would interfere with the employee-employer relationship at pharmacies and that the abortion-reporting measure would create unnecessary paperwork for physicians who treat women who have an abortion or miscarriage.