Governor Refuses To Sign Anti Abortion Bill; Becomes Law Without His Signature
Wednesday, May 23rd 2007, 6:56 PM CDT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry said Wednesday night he would allow an anti-abortion bill to become law without his signature, even though he remains opposed to part of it.
The measure, pushed primarily by Republican lawmakers, was passed by the House and Senate after Henry vetoed an earlier bill that was opposed by the Oklahoma State Medical Association and other medical groups.
``This bill addresses several of the issues that led me to veto an earlier measure,'' Henry said. ``Unlike its predecessor, Senate Bill 139 provides exemptions for cases of rape and incest, and it includes language that allows for a physician to discuss options with his or her patient.''
The main objective of both bills was to bar state funds and resources from being used to perform abortions in the state. Some physicians claimed it would effectively prevent uninsured and underinsured women with troubled pregnancies from receiving medically qualified abortions.
Under the Oklahoma Constitution, a bill approved by the Legislature automatically becomes law after five days if the governor declines to take action on it. Wednesday was the last day for Henry to take action on the abortion bill.
Henry said the latest bill is still flawed and he will hopes the Legislature will amend it next year.
``Specifically, it still fails to provide exemptions for instances in which a lethal birth defect means there is no possibility of a fetus' survival,'' the governor said. ``A woman should not be forced to carry a fetus to full term when there is no possibility that the fetus can survive outside the womb.''
Henry urged supporters of the bill to work with the medical community and others to address the lethal birth defect issue in the next legislative session.
Tony Lauinger, anti-abortion activist who worked for passage of the bill, said he was grateful to lawmakers for passing it.
Of the governor's concerns, he said: ``We do not believe it is the role of the state to kill a child who has been diagnosed with a disability or a disease.
Sen. James Williamson, R-Tulsa, introduced the bill and led the charge for Senate approval.
Lauinger said Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, and Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, also played a key role in the bill's passage.
A measure sponsored by Gumm and Hamilton on a related subject was used as a vehicle to revive the issue after Henry's veto.