BREAKING: The Oklahoma Legislature has passed a bill that would make performing an abortion a felony.
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 19, 2016
For the first time since Roe v Wade, a US state has passed a bill that effectiely makes abortion illegal.
With a vote of 33-12, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill that makes it illegal for doctors to perform abortions by preventing them from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in Oklahoma. So, while abortion is still technically legal, any doctor who performs one in Oklahoma risks their livelihood.
According to CBS News, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, sees this as a first step toward overturning Roe v Wade. He says, “Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception.” Of course, he doesn’t seem to concern himself too much with the lives of the
chattel women carrying those babies, nor for the lives of those babies once they make it out of their wombs. But whatevs.
The bill was passed without discussion or debate. However, it is receiving pushback. Sen. Ervin Yen, a Republican Oklahoma City senator and the only physician in the Senate, called the bill “insane” and voted against it.
Meanwhile, Amanda Tallen, attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive rights said, “Oklahoma politicians have made it their mission year after year to restrict women’s access vital health care services, yet this total ban on abortion is a new low. The Center for Reproductive Rights is closely watching this bill and we strongly urge Governor Fallin to reject this cruel and unconstitutional ban.”
There’s reason for hope, however. Try though they have to make anti-abortion bills like this stick, the fact is that every single time the Oklahoma Legislature has passed something like this, it has never become a law, because they have all been unconstitutional. It’s reasonable to assume that the same will happen here. After all, as Senate Democratic leader Sen. John Sparks pointed out, alluding to the Legislature’s May 27th adjournment and the fact that they still have a $1.3 billion budget hole to worry about, “Republicans don’t have an answer for their failed education policies, failing health care policies and failing fiscal policies, so what do you do in that situation? You come up with an emotional distraction. That’s what this bill is.”
Keep fighting, Oklahoma.
(featured image via Oklahomans for the Arts/Flickr)
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