Bill Restricting Abortion Goes to Oklahoma House

(CN) – A bill requiring written consent of the father of a fetus for an abortion advanced out of committee Tuesday afternoon, paving the way for a vote before the full Oklahoma House of Representatives.
By 5-2 vote without any debate, the House Public Health Committee approved House Bill 1441, which would ban abortions “without the written informed consent of the father” of the fetus.

“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,” the bill states. “If the person identified as the father of the fetus challenges the fact that he is the father, such an individual may demand that a paternity test be performed.”

The author, Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, told the committee his bill “simply tries to add father into the process and tried to bring him into the conversation” of an abortion.

“My bill will stop an abortion if he does not agree to the abortion,” he said at the hearing.

Humphrey told reporters afterward he thought “we did the right thing.”

“The thing that I wanted to spark to debate is that fathers have a role,” he said. “What exactly that role is, I’m not sure. This is a very difficult bill, a very trying bill with passion from both sides.”

Humphrey said he was not sure of the bill’s chances of passage or that “it ever meets constitutional muster,” but said thinks he is starting “the right debate” by discussing a potential father’s rights, particularly his financial responsibility from pregnancy onward.

In an interview published Monday by The Intercept, Humphrey referred to pregnant women as “hosts.”

“And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host, and so, you know, if you pre-know that, then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he said. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

Reaction to H.B. 1441 was swift, as pro-choice activists blasted the measure as delaying an Oklahoma woman’s right to seek abortion by several weeks on top of a mandatory delay of at least three days.

The Center for Reproductive Rights called the bill “unequivocally unconstitutional,” saying it defies the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That 5-4 ruling concluded that a requirement in Pennsylvania for a woman to notify her spouse of an abortion was unconstitutional.

“It is shameful that Oklahoma politicians advanced this measure, which is demeaning, patently unconstitutional, and puts women in abusive relationships at risk,” said Amanda Allen, the group’s senior state legislative counsel. “We call on the Oklahoma legislature to reject this outrageous measure and trust women to make their own healthcare decisions.”

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