Ultrasound, fetal pain bills top anti-abortion agenda

Wednesday, February 8th 2006, 3:06 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Anti-abortion advocates brought bundles of long-stem roses into the state Capitol Wednesday as lawmakers unveiled anti-abortion legislation they said complements a new law requiring women to give their informed consent before an abortion is performed.

The measures would require that pregnant women be told that a fetus at least 20 weeks old could experience pain during an abortion and give them the option of having an ultrasound procedure to actually see the developing fetus before an abortion is performed.

Supporters said the proposals build upon legislation passed last year and signed by Gov. Brad Henry that requires women considering an abortion be given information about fetal development and the abortion process and give their informed consent prior to an abortion.

``If they're going to have an informed choice, they need all the information available,'' said Rep. John Trebilcock, R-Broken Arrow, author of the fetal pain measure.

A lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, Keith Smith, said anti-abortion advocates should devote their attention to family planning and teenage pregnancy prevention programs to reduce abortions instead of restricting a woman's legal right to have one.

``They're leading us down the path that causes abortions if they don't do that,'' Smith said.

Smith said anti-abortion lawmakers should require insurance companies to cover the cost of prescription contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

``We cover Viagra. Can't we cover birth control?'' he said.

The new package of anti-abortion legislation was announced as about 200 men, women and children delivered red, white and rose-colored roses to lawmakers' offices to mark the annual Rose Day anti-abortion observance.

Participants, including pregnant women and children in strollers, presented hundreds of roses to lawmakers and asked for their support for anti-abortion legislation.

``It has an impact in the pro-life debate,'' said Shirley Cox of Catholic Charities, one of the event's organizers and a supporter of informed consent legislation.

``Many women who have had abortions have said: 'If I had the information I would not have had the abortion','' Cox said.

The Most Rev. Eusebius Beltran, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, said the Rose Day rally was ``critically important'' for anti-abortion advocates to express their views.

``Legislators are supposed to make decisions that are important to the people,'' Beltran said. ``They need to know what the people think.''

Trebilcock said the proposals would create ``reasonable restrictions'' to women seeking an abortion. His bill would inform women of the scientific debate surrounding whether a fetus 20 weeks old or older can feel traumatic pain during an abortion.

``It is not legislation that will prohibit abortions,'' Trebilcock said. ``I do think abortions should be illegal, but we're not there yet.''