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Oklahoma Legislators Propose Abortion Bans

06-Mar-2017

It's springtime in Oklahoma. You know what that means: the redbuds and Bradford pears are blooming, the winds are sweeping down the plains in preparation for tornado season, and the Oklahoma legislature is considering a new spate of unconstitutional abortion laws.

While the state should be focusing on bigger issues--like a devastating budget crisis that is crippling education and necessary state agencies--certain legislators are using this time to push their anti-abortion agenda, regardless of the fact that their proposed laws will certainly consume more state funds as they must fight legal battles and constitutional challenges if their bills are ultimately passed.

The first proposal, House Bill 1441, would require the informed written consent of the father of the fetus before a woman could have an abortion. This new law, if passed, would read in part as follows:

"A pregnant woman seeking to abort her pregnancy shall be required to provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus to the physician who is to perform or induce the abortion. If the person identified as the father of the fetus challenges the fact that he is the father, such individual may demand that a paternity test be performed."

The only exceptions are if the father of the fetus is deceased (and even then, the woman must provide a notarized affidavit of his death), if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or if the woman's life is in danger from carrying the pregnancy to term.

This requirement is in direct contrast to federal law, which since 1976 has held that spousal consent is not required for a woman to abort her pregnancy.

Furthermore, the bill does not take into account issues of domestic violence, in which a controlling or violent partner may refuse to consent to the abortion. It requires a woman to violate her own privacy by naming her intimate partner or partners. It does not consider fathers who will be absentee fathers or fail to provide child support if the child is carried to term. In other words, it is a frightfully bad bill.

Of course, this isn't the only bill proposal that would seek to ban, limit, or criminalize abortion. Not in Oklahoma.

Senate Bill 817 would amend the state's first degree murder statute to include performing an abortion as an act of first degree murder. It would also amend the state's abortion laws by prohibiting abortion from the moment of conception, rather than after 20 weeks gestation, as previously prohibited by law. Again, this amendment would reiterate the inclusion of abortion as an act of first degree murder.

And finally, Senate Bill 732 would affect medical licensing for doctors who perform abortions. Currently, state law lists a number or acts of "unprofessional conduct" that would prevent the issuance or renewal of a physician license, and which require the state Medical Board to revoke a doctor's license. SB 732 would add "performance of an abortion" to that list. 

 



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