By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

OKLAHOMA CITY, April 17, 2008 ( – Oklahoma state representatives and senators today voted overwhelmingly to override Governor Brad Henry’s veto of a bill requiring women to receive an ultrasound examination before proceeding with an abortion.

The House voted 81 to 15 and the Senate 37 to 11 to override the veto.

The bill contains a number of pro-life initiatives and expands on anti-abortion legislation passed in 2006 that required abortion doctors to tell a woman she had a right to a free ultrasound exam at an offsite location.
  The bill originally passed the Senate 38 to 10 and the House, 80 to 12 last week.

In vetoing the legislation Wednesday night, Governor Henry objected to the bill not having an exception for victims of rape and incest.

“While I support reasonable restrictions on abortion, this legislation does not provide an essential exemption for victims of rape and incest,” Henry said last night in his veto message to the Legislature.

Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life, said in response to Governor Henry’s veto, “Abortion is not a solution to the tragedy of rape or incest. Abortion is a second tragedy which compounds the tragedy of rape or incest.”

He added that an ultrasound gives a woman “essential information which would allow her to give truly informed consent.”

Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, and State Rep. Pam Peterson, who introduced the legislation, and which has overwhelming support among Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, are now urging Governor Henry to sign the bill into law.

The most notable pro-life measures in the piece of legislation are: the creation of the Freedom of Conscience Act which protects the rights of healthcare providers to refuse to take part in the destruction of human life; ensuring the chemical abortion pill, RU 486, is used in accordance with FDA guidelines; ensuring the mother’s consent to abort is truly voluntary, and protection against coerced abortions; providing a woman with an ultrasound of her unborn child which she can view prior to undergoing the abortion; and cultivating respect for disabled children by banning the wrongful-life lawsuits that claim a baby would have been better off aborted.

“This legislation is pro-woman, pro-child and pro-life,” State Rep. Peterson said. “The more information a woman can have before making this life-altering decision, the better. I hope Governor Henry will do the right thing and sign this legislation into law.”

In related news, women in South Carolina now have to be given the option of viewing an ultrasound image of their unborn child at least one hour before undergoing an abortion.

The new legislation ends more than a year of debate by House and Senate lawmakers over whether to require a woman to view the ultrasound before an abortion.

Women are now given the right to either look at the screen during the ultrasound or see a printed image. They also must sign a form verifying they’ve been given the option.