Oklahoma Abortion Law Would Criminalize Doctors
(CN) - A bill that passed the Oklahoma House would strip the medical license from doctors who perform an abortion for any reason but to save the mother's life, and send them to prison for up to three years.
Senate Bill 1552 defines abortion as "unprofessional conduct," adding it to a list that includes writing "false or fictitious prescriptions for any drugs or narcotics," and having sex with patients. There are no exceptions in SB 1552 for rape or incest.
The House approved the bill overwhelmingly on Thursday, 59 to 9, with 33 not voting. The state Senate already had approved the bill, but a media representative for Gov. Mary Fallin indicated that it was sent back to the Senate for further review.
Both chambers are dominated by Republicans. Gov. Fallin, also Republican, has signed several other bills restricting access to abortion. Only two clinics remain in Oklahoma that perform abortions.
Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, the bill's co-sponsor, said on the House floor before the vote that the bill was "not about policy. It's not about politics. It's about principle."
To critics who suggested that the bill is unconstitutional, Brumbaugh
replied: "Do we make laws because they're moral and right, or do we make them based on what an unelected judicial occupant might question or want to overturn? The last time I looked, that's why I thought we had a separation of power," according to The Washington Post.
The Center for Reproductive Rights condemned the bill.
"Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women's access [to] vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low," its senior legislative counsel Amanda Allen said in a statement.
The Oklahoma State Medical Association took no stand on the issue of abortion, but said in a statement: "We will oppose legislation that is designed to intimidate physicians or override their medical judgment."
If Fallin signs the bill, lawsuits will surely follow, based on the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Even if Fallin vetoes the bill, the House appears to have enough votes to override it - unless the 33 members who refused to vote Thursday decide overwhelmingly to sustain the veto.
The Oklahoman, the state's largest newspaper, had no coverage of the issue on Tuesday, nor whether Fallin was expected to sign the bill. It did have a story that Fallin "downplayed" suggestions that she might make a good running mate for Donald Trump.