State House Passes Measure To End Medicaid Abortions

Tuesday, April 3rd 2007, 12:03 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Legislation that would further restrict abortions and cut off Medicaid funding for the procedure was passed by the Oklahoma House Tuesday over the objections of the Legislature's only physician, who said the bill lacks compassion and handicaps doctors.

``We're in over our heads on this,'' said Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, an emergency medicine physician at Integris Grove General Hospital who said he has delivered hundreds of babies and never performed an abortion.

Cox said the measure, which is opposed by the Oklahoma State Medical Association, will effectively cut off treatment for women with troubled pregnancies who have no insurance or are on Medicaid, a health-care program for the medically indigent that is partly supported with state tax dollars.

``It punishes poor people with no insurance,'' said Cox, who offered several amendments to the bill that were either tabled or simply not considered.

Supporters said lawmakers should protect the rights of unborn fetuses and that they oppose the use of state tax dollars to pay for abortions.

``This is about who pays for it,'' said Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow, the measure's author.

Supporters pointed out that the bill had the backing of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a Muskogee physician who has delivered more than 3,000 babies. In a letter on Monday, Coburn urged state lawmakers to support the bill and expressed disappointment that the OSMA opposed it.

Babies can't fight for themselves,'' said Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, who said Coburn is his physician and had delivered two of his children. ``I think as a country we should value life.''

``The ultimate child abuse in this country is abortion,'' said Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa.

The state House voted 73-22 for the state Senate-passed measure following more than one hour of questions and debate. It now goes back to the state Senate for final passage.