by Steven Ertelt
April 25, 2007
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — Sen. James Williamson is setting up a vote in the Oklahoma state legislature to override a veto by Gov. Brad Henry of a bill that would help get the state government out of the abortion business. The measure prohibits Medicaid-funded employees or facilities from doing abortions because they are funded with state taxpayer dollars.
While Henry has signed into law bills limiting abortions before, he sided with the state medical association and said he worried that the bill would deny other pregnancy-related medical services to poor women.
They worried that language in the bill asking doctors not to "encourage" abortions would put too strong of a restriction on physicians and cause them not to talk about other medical procedures.
Williamson said the veto override vote would come during Wednesday’s session of the state Senate.
"We’ll see if any senators want to flip flop on this life-and-death issue,” Williamson said at a news conference, according to AP.
He was joined at the press event by Doris Erhart, co-founder of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, who said the bill was needed because doctors are encouraging parents of unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome to have abortions.
She told AP the information is "delivered in such a way as to pressure the woman to terminate her pregnancy.”
Rep. Lisa Billy, a Republican, agreed and said a doctor at s state-funded facility suggested to her to have an abortion because her baby would have the disability but her son was eventually born without it.
"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.
A two-thirds majority vote in the 48-member state Senate is necessary to override the governor’s pro-abortion veto.
The pro-life bill passed the Senate last week, 32-16, exactly the two-thirds margin that will be necessary to override the veto — as long as no one changes sides.
Tony Lauinger, the head of Oklahomans for Life, supports the bill and told LifeNews.com that Henry’s veto was "one more obstacle to be overcome in getting state government out of the abortion business in Oklahoma."
Lauinger told LifeNews.com he’s worried that abortion advocates will try to pick off one of the eight Democrats who voted for the bill.
"Our job is to make sure all eight Democratic senators who have supported the bill up to now continue to do so, and that they vote to override the veto," he said.
"There is tremendous pressure on these eight pro-life Democrats from pro-abortion groups," he added.
The House voted 73-22 for the bill, which the Senate had already approved.
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.