By John Jalsevac
March 31, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Monday the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed three different pro-life bills by a wide margin. The language in all three of the bills, which was drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, was originally included in a single piece of legislation passed in 2008 – but that bill was later struck down by the state Supreme Court, which decided that it violated the “single issue” rule.
The original bill has now been split up into seven different pieces of legislation, three of which have now passed both the Senate and the House, and are awaiting the governor’s signature. The other four have passed the House, and are headed to the Senate for a vote, which should occur within the next several weeks.
“We are very gratified that the Oklahoma legislature has seen fit to reenact these three bills,” said Tony Lauinger, the State Chairman for Oklahomans for Life, in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com (LSN).
“We are privileged to live in an extraordinarily pro-life state and to have very strongly pro-life legislators and we deeply appreciate their support for the protection of the unborn child.”
SB1891, sponsored by Rep. Pam Peterson, creates the Freedom of Conscience Act, thereby protecting the right of health care workers to “refuse to participate in the taking of an innocent life,” in the words of Rep. Peterson. It passed the House with a vote of 80-13.
Rep. Peterson told LSN in an interview that, “What we’re finding across the country is that nurses, nursing students, physician assistants, medical students, all kinds of people in training for the medical profession are being more and more coerced into participating in these life taking measures, and we’re hoping that Oklahoma will stand at the forefront of standing for life and protecting these health care professionals.”
Peterson also said that the recent passage of the federal health care reform bill, which pro-life leaders have criticized for not adequately protecting conscience rights, has heightened the need for legislation such as SB1891.
“I think in light of Obamacare passing, it’s all the more reason why the states need to step up to the plate and say – you know what? If you want to be a health care professional and you come to Oklahoma we’re going to protect that right,” she said.
The legislator said that there are still concerns that Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry will decide to veto the bill, as he has vetoed pro-life legislation in the past. While the bill appears to have more than enough support to override a veto in the house, Peterson said that things are not so clear-cut in the senate. “Hopefully it will pass,” she said.
SB1890, another of the three bills passed on Monday, forbids sex selective abortions, and was passed in an overwhelming 95-1 vote. It was sponsored by Rep. Dan Sullivan, who was unavailable for comment by press time.
According to ktul.com, the legislator said that “It is critical that we make sure the common practice in many countries of aborting mostly female babies does not come to our state.”
SB1902, introduced by Rep. Skye McNiel, regulates the use of the abortion drug RU-486, making it illegal for anyone other than a physician to provide or administer the drug. According to the official summary of the bill, it requires that the drug “must be administered by or in the same room and in the physical presence of the physician who prescribed it, and the physician must make a reasonable effort to ensure a follow-up appointment after the drug has been given.” It passed in a 91-7 vote.
SB1902 has been passed into law at the same time that pro-life organizations are expressing concern about the increasingly popular practice of prescribing RU-486 through a process known as “telemed,” in which a mother seeking an abortion consults with an abortionist at a remote clinic via a video-conference service. The drug is then prescribed without the woman having ever met or been examined by a physician. Earlier this week, Operation Rescue issued a report stating that Planned Parenthood of Iowa is offering medical abortions at 16 clinics, even though only four of them have a doctor on staff.
The remaining four pieces of legislation, which are awaiting approval by the senate, include one bill that would mandate comprehensive reporting about abortions - including clear reporting of complications that result from abortions. Another would require a woman to receive an ultrasound prior to an abortion, and the sonographer to describe and explain to the mother what is on the screen.
Tony Lauinger of Oklahomans for Life said that he believes that the latter measure is likely to prove the most effective measure of the group.
“It would enhance the degree of informed consent that a woman can give prior to the abortion,” he said.
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