By Peter J. Smith

  OKLAHOMA CITY, April 25, 2007 ( – Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry vetoed legislation proscribing the use of public funds and state-run hospitals for abortions on Wednesday according to, provoking an outcry from pro-life advocates who then sought to override his veto.

“I do not issue this veto lightly. I believe every abortion is a tragedy, and I have a strong record of support for common-sense, reasonable restrictions on abortion,” stated Gov. Henry, calling the measure flawed for not including exemptions in cases of incest and rape.

  The bill also required Oklahomans to take out additional health insurance polices to cover elective abortions.

“Although I have no doubt SB 714 is well-intentioned, I have grave concerns that its inadvertent consequences would prove disastrous,” he continued. The Governor said the bill would severely compromise health care in Oklahoma by placing undue restrictions on the “sacred relationship” between doctors and patients, and could force a woman to carry a fetus to term with a fatal birth defect.

“I don’t think the governor’s actions today are in line with the beliefs of most Oklahomans, who value the sanctity of life and are in favor of stronger protections,” House Speaker Lance Cargill said.

  Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life, called Gov. Henry’s decision “a very sad day for unborn babies in the state of Oklahoma.”
“When you consider precisely what is being said, namely that mothers with very sick babies wouldn’t be able to be referred to the OU Health Sciences Center if this bill had become law. That is utterly false,” Lauinger stated.

“Mothers with sick babies could be referred to the OU Health Sciences Center to be cared for, to be provided the best medical attention possible. The only thing that would have happened under this bill is that these babies would not have been sent to the OU Health Sciences Center to be killed.”

“Sadly, the governor has chosen to keep the state of Oklahoma in the abortion business,” said Sen. James Williamson, author of the bill, who pointed out the bill would not interfere with abortions in the private sector nor ban the use of the so-called morning-after pill.

  Williamson led the charge Thursday to override Gov. Henry’s veto, but failed to gain his veto-proof majority through the defection of one vote in the Senate (31-17).

  Sen. Charles Laster, D-Shawnee provided the decisive vote saying he had “visited with Governor Henry and multiple medical professionals” since casting his initial vote.

“I am pro-life and I have consistently voted for pro-life legislation,” Laster said according to the World Capitol Bureau. “This bill, however, holds poorer Oklahomans to a different standard than everyone else and I can’t support that.”

  Williamson said he was extremely disappointed Gov. Henry used his influence to make Lanster change his vote, noting that Lanster had supported the measure several times before.


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