Opponents of abortion are promoting making abortion illegal rather than just restricting it and that is being reflected in several bills before the Oklahoma Legislature.
Senate Bill 1552 by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow; Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow; Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Oklahoma City; and Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Tulsa, would essentially deny a state medical license to anyone performing abortions.
State law already has a long list of “unprofessional conduct” for doctors. SB1552 adds: “Performance of an abortion … with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after live birth, to remove an ectopic pregnancy or to remove a dead unborn child who died as a result of a spontaneous miscarriage, accidental trauma or a criminal assault on the pregnant female or her unborn child…”
The bill gives the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners the right to withdraw a medical license from abortionists. Another section of state law is amended to state that “No person shall perform or induce an abortion upon a pregnant woman” and any doctor who participates in an abortion is “prohibited from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in this state.”
House Bill 3128 by Rep. Josh Cockcroft, R-Norman; Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee; and Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, states that no one may perform an abortion “…with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either Down syndrome or a potential for Down syndrome.”
It also prohibits abortions due to genetic abnormality. Any doctor who does so will face a criminal charge, a fine of more than $10,000 and revocation of his or her medical license. It also paves the way for women who have abortions to sue abortionists.
On February 22, it passed a House vote by a margin of 78 to 10.
Other efforts to outlaw abortion are underway in Oklahoma.
Russell Hunter is part of a Christian group, Abolish Human Abortion, in Norman that wants to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to make abortion illegal.
On January 27, Hunter filed paperwork with the Oklahoma Secretary of State to set the groundwork for an initiative petition to make abortion illegal in Oklahoma. To get the measure on the ballot in November, 123,725 signatures are required.
Abolitionism, mirroring the successful Christian movement to abolish slavery before the Civil War, wants immediate change versus the gradual strategy of eventually stopping abortion that is prevalent in pro-life groups. Civil War abolitionists were Christians who called slavery a sin and demanded “immediate, uncompensated emancipation.”
The Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld a law that requires abortion clinics to prescribe abortion-inducing drugs only in accordance with the FDA-approved label.
The decision by the court upholds HB 2684, passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2014 to prohibit the off-label use of drugs to perform abortions. The law’s purpose was to end Oklahoma abortion providers’ continued practice of using off-label methods of abortion inducing drugs like mifepristone, also known as RU-486, despite safety warnings from the FDA that followed the deaths of several women who received abortions using off-label protocols.
“I am pleased the Oklahoma Supreme Court has chosen to uphold HB 2684,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said. “The off-label use of abortion-inducing drugs has resulted in catastrophic consequences for women nationwide, and I appreciate the Oklahoma Legislature’s efforts to protect the health and safety of Oklahoma women over the interests of the abortion industry.”
The decision reverses a lower court ruling the law unconstitutional. Laws similar to HB 2684 have also been upheld by federal appeals courts in Texas and Ohio.
Some “pro-life” bills have actually hurt the movement to ban abortion, Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) President John Michener wrote in an e-mail to supporters. Michener calls these bill “cozy arrangements” that propose incremental regulation or education.
One of those bill is by Rep. Ann Coody, R-Lawton, author of HB2797, which creates the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act. It passed by a vote of 17-2 out of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee recently.
In that bill, public policy in Oklahoma would favor childbirth over abortion. And it establishes a fund for schools to implement education consistent with that policy in grades nine through 12.
Public schools would use that fund to “educate the public about the humanity of a child in utero.” That money would not go to any group that promotes abortion.
It also mandates that a school’s website have the following statement: “There are many public and private agencies willing and able to help you to carry your child to term and to assist you and your child after your child is born, whether you choose to keep your child or to place him or her for adoption. The State of Oklahoma strongly urges you to contact them if you are pregnant.”
“It sounds wonderful, but it will not stop abortion,” Michener wrote. “The first thing it will do is create yet another fund into which taxpayer money can disappear.
“This may sound great, but it is just another ‘cozy arrangement’ trap. We already have biology classes and teachers to cover grades nine through twelve. Media campaigns are not a proper function of government, especially hiring pop stars and athletes to state the obvious. And how in the world could anyone say with a straight face that abortion ‘is against public policy’ when it clearly is not as long as it remains legal?”
Another proposal is Senate Bill 1118 by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, Michener said. Silk introduced the ”Heartbeat Informed Consent Act.” In that bill, it would be illegal to perform or induce an abortion if the abortionist can detect even the slightest hint of a heartbeat.
Silk was the OCPAC 2015 Senate freshman of the year.
A prominent “pro-life” group criticized the bill and it recommended that the bill be amended to strike the sentence, “It shall be unlawful for an abortion provider to perform or induce an abortion if an embryonic or fetal heartbeat is detected.”
Michener said, to his credit, Silk would not be a part of the bill that stops short of ending abortion in Oklahoma.
“Dozens of Oklahoma Legislators now clearly see the futility of four decades of pursuing only abortion regulation and education,” Michener said. “They are breaking up the cozy arrangement and actually working to accomplish an immediate, real end to all elective abortion with SB1552, which passed out of committee on February 22 and will be heard on the Senate floor on or around March 8.
“We must rally behind this effort. If we want real change, it is imperative that we change our strategy. As pro-life activists we must not fall for the cozy arrangement this year.”