Oklahoma House Resurrects Anti-Abortion Bill
Monday, May 14th 2007, 3:08 PM CDT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Anti-abortion legislation vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry that would prevent state resources and facilities from being used to perform abortions was resurrected by the Oklahoma House Monday in a new bill that widens exceptions to the ban and gives doctors more freedom to discuss options with pregnant women.
Lawmakers voted 77-19 for the bill after suspending House rules to allow it to be considered after passage of a legislative deadline in April and to waive the amendment period for the measure. It now goes to the Senate, which has twice failed to override Henry's April 18 veto of anti-abortion legislation.
The bill received bipartisan support in spite of objections from opponents that it is more about politics than good public policy, would discriminate against uninsured and underinsured women who depend upon public facilities for their health care and could make it harder for state-supported teaching hospitals to be accredited.
``I'm for life, but this is bad public policy,'' Rep. Al Lindley, D-Oklahoma city, said during sometimes emotional debate on the anti-abortion measure.
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, said the bill is punitive and could force pregnant women to make unhealthy choices.
``We're not offering prevention and education here,'' McDaniel said.
Medical professionals expressed concern that the earlier bill could prohibit them from mentioning termination as an option for pregnant women or accepting payment for their services from Medicaid, a federal health care program for the indigent that is partly supported with state tax dollars.
Supporters said the bill allows abortion at state-funded hospitals to save the life of the mother as well as in cases of rape and incest. It also makes it clear that doctors can discuss termination of a pregnancy as an option for a woman with a troubled pregnancy ``through nondirective counseling.''
Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow, said the bill promotes a ``culture of life'' in public policy on abortion.
``The law is trying to protect the innocent,'' Wright said.
``They're human beings. They're people. And they die,'' said the measure's author, Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City. ``I am pro-life because I will not kill anyone.''
The House inserted the new anti-abortion guidelines in a Senate bill to create an umbilical cord blood bank that would be a repository of cord blood donated by families following the birth of healthy children. That measure died in the House but its language was later inserted into another bill.