by Steven Ertelt
April 12, 2007
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — The Oklahoma state legislature gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill that would end the practice of using state taxpayer dollars through the Medicaid system to pay for abortions. The measure now heads to Gov. Brad Henry, who has previously signed pro-life bills into law.
The House voted 73-22 for the bill, which the Senate had already approved, and the upper chamber gave it a final vote.
Rep. John Wright, a Republican who sponsored the bill, said the measure was "about who pays for it" saying that taxpayers don’t want to be forced to fund abortions.
However, the measure is drawing opposition from Democratic Sen. Jim Wilson, the Oklahoma State Medical Association, and some doctors who worry that the bill, which prohibits doctors under Medicaid from suggesting abortions to women, would lead to more restrictions on physicians.
They held a press conference Thursday to articulate their concerns and have asked Governor Henry to veto the bill.
The governor’s office told the Associated Press that he would review the concerns before making a final decision on it.
During the legislative debate, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a doctor who has delivered more than 3,000 children, said he supported the bill.
He said in a statement sent to LifeNews.com that he supported the bill because it "would ensure that the tax dollars of Oklahomans are no longer used to extinguish the life of the unborn."
That the state medical society opposed the bill upset Coburn.
"The reality is that every tax dollar that is spent to perform an abortion is a dollar that has been taken away from providing medically necessary health care for patients," he said.
"More than 18 percent of Oklahoma’s population is uninsured, the seventh-highest rate in the country," Coburn added. "How can we justify spending limited public resources on abortion when our fellow Oklahomans cannot even afford basic health care?"
In 2005 6,632 abortions were done in Oklahoma — an 8 percent drop from the 7,183 abortions done in 2000.
ACTION: Contact Governor Henry and urge support for the bill. You can find contact information by going to https://www.governor.state.ok.us/contact.php.