by Steven Ertelt
May 18, 2007
Oklahoma City, OK (LifeNews.com) — The Oklahoma state Senate has approved a revised bill to attempt to satisfy Gov. Brad Henry, who earlier vetoed the measure to get the state government out of the abortion business. The rewrite comes after two attempts by the state Senate to overturn Henry’s veto failed by one vote each time.
The House approved the measure last week and it prohibits Medicaid-funded employees or facilities from promoting abortions because they are funded with state taxpayer dollars.
But Henry wanted rape and incest exceptions added to the bill so Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, an Oklahoma City Democrat, led a rewriting of another piece of legislation to make it read similar to the bill Henry vetoed.
The Senate passed the new legislation, SB 139, on a 34-14 vote Wednesday and now it heads back to Henry for his consideration.
After the initial veto, Sen. James Williamson, a Republican from Tulsa, led two override attempts that failed on a 31-17 margin, because 32 votes are necessary to override.
Pro-life advocates support the changes in the bill and are confident that they have the votes to override this time if Henry vetoes it. Tony Lauinger, the head of Oklahomans for Life, told LifeNews.com that he’s asking pro-life people to phone Governor Henry and ask him to sign the bill.
He called the passage of the revised measure a "major victory for the unborn child"
The governor has until next Wednesday night to decide whether to sign or veto the bill.
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.
But Doris Erhart, co-founder of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, said the bill was needed because Medicaid-funded 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 doctors at 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.
He introduced the bill after learning that the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center had done two abortions.
Lauinger previously 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."
In 2005 6,632 abortions were done in Oklahoma — an 8 percent drop from the 7,183 abortions done in 2000.
ACTION: Call Governor Henry at (405) 521-2342 and ask him to sign SB 139 into law.