Lawmaker Seeks Veto Override

Tuesday, April 24th 2007, 4:23 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Sen. James A. Williamson wasn't making any predictions Tuesday as he announced plans for an attempted override of Gov. Brad Henry's veto of a contentious anti-abortion bill. Williamson said he would lodge an override motion during Wednesday's Senate session.

``We'll see if any senators want to flip flop on this life-and-death issue,'' Williamson said at a news conferences where his bill drew support from parents of children with Down syndrome.

The bill was opposed by medical groups who expressed concern that language preventing doctors from ``encouraging'' abortions could keep physicians from giving medical advice to women with troubled pregnancies.

Williamson, R-Tulsa, said the main focus of the bill is to prevent the use of state facilities and taxpayer dollars for abortions unless a mother's life is at stake.

The bill was criticized because it does not contain exceptions for rape and incest.

Most abortions are now performed at clinics and the bill would not stop those procedures.

Doris Erhart, co-founder of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, said the bill is needed because mothers are currently given information ``delivered in such a way as to pressure the woman to terminate her pregnancy.''

Juanita Killingsworth said she changed physicians because he was getting negative information on her pregnancy, including the option of having an abortion.

The two women are mothers of children with Down syndrome, whom they brought to the news conference. Their children were born at private facilities.

Williamson said prenatal tests for birth defects can result in false positives, with women being advised to abort healthy babies.

Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Purcell, said a doctor at a state facility recommended that she have an abortion because her fetus could have Down syndrome, but her baby, a boy, was born without the genetic disorder.

``It's hard to believe this is happening in our society, but it is, and we clearly need to stop taxpayers from supporting this practice,'' Williamson said.

In vetoing the bill, Henry said it ``does more harm than good'' and would require poor women who are victims of rape or incest ``no option but to carry a fetus to term, no matter how horrific and violent the circumstances.''..''

``There are a number of fatal birth defects in which there is no chance of survival and yet Senate Bill 714 would add to a family's suffering and medical costs by forcing a woman to carry that fetus to term,'' Henry said.

Critics said the bill could endanger the future health of some women who had cancer and other serious illnesses when they were pregnant.

The bill passed the Senate on a 32-16 vote, meaning one senator who voted for the measure will have to vote against the override motion in order for the governor's veto to be sustained. It takes a two-thirds vote in the 48-member Senate to override a veto.