An Oklahoma bill that would prohibit abortions on unborn babies with Down syndrome and other special needs will not have a hearing after a state Republican refused to hear it in his committee.
Oklahoma House Bill 1549, the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2017,” passed the state House last month. State Senate leaders then assigned the bill to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Republican Sen. Ervin Yen.
The Associated Press reports Yen, a medical doctor who says he is pro-life and Catholic, recently refused to hear the bill in his committee, arguing that the legislation is unconstitutional.
“No. 1, it’s unconstitutional,” Yen said. “No. 2, it jumps between the doctor-patient relationship.”
The bill would prohibit discriminatory abortions based on a disability diagnosis and hold abortion practitioners who violate the legislation liable.
Here’s more from the AP:
[The] bill has been reassigned to a second committee, and while it may not receive a hearing before a key deadline passes on Friday, the Senate’s Republican leader disputed the characterization of the bill as controversial.
Now, the second committee will not hear the bill either.
Tulsa World reports Senate Rules Committee Chair Sen. Eddie Fields, a Republican, said Tuesday that his committee will not hold a hearing on the bill.
The concern among some lawmakers appears to be that abortion activists will challenge the bill and succeed in having it overturned in the courts, costing state taxpayers money and never succeed in saving unborn babies’ lives.
A similar law to prohibit abortions on unborn babies with special needs passed in Indiana in 2016, but a judge later blocked it. North Dakota also has a similar law that is in effect. A handful of states also prohibit sex-selection abortions.
Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz backed the bill last week, saying, “I don’t think it’s controversial to defend life at any stage.”
State Rep. George Faught, a Republican who co-authored the bill, said children in the womb deserve to be protected.
“I think life begins at conception, so that’s my position,” Faught said. “Someone needs to speak for those children, too, and that’s what I feel like we’re trying to do.”
It is unclear what will happen with the bill now.
Unborn babies with Down syndrome and other special needs often are targeted for abortions. In Iceland, for example, not one baby with Down syndrome has been born in the past five years, according to testimony from Dr. Peter McParland, an Ob-Gyn at National Maternity Hospital in Ireland.
“In Iceland, every single baby—100 percent of all those diagnosed with Down syndrome—are aborted,” McParland told the Citizens Assembly in Ireland earlier this year.
Surveys and personal stories indicate that parents often are pressured to consider abortion when their unborn baby is diagnosed with a genetic disorder.
Rebecca Kelly, the mother of a 5-year-old with Down syndrome, recently surveyed 58 women who chose life for their babies with Down syndrome, Australia Daily Mail reports. The survey results indicated that 60 percent of the women reported the Down Syndrome diagnosis was portrayed to them in “negative language.” In the cases where women refused abortion, the survey found that two-thirds of the women said they were asked about abortion again, and one-fifth said they were frequently asked to reconsider abortion.