By Peter J. Smith

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, May 21, 2010 ( – The Oklahoma legislature is on another crash collision with the state’s governor over the issue of abortion, for the third time this year. The Senate voted Wednesday to approve a bill prohibiting health insurance companies within the state from subsidizing abortion coverage, except in cases of rape, incest, or to prevent the death of the mother.

The Senate voted 32-13 on Wednesday for the bill (H.R. 3290), which had already been approved by the House of Representatives in a 70 – 21 vote.

In addition to banning abortion coverage through the state health exchanges, the legislation states: “No health plan, including health insurance contracts, plans or policies, offered outside of the state Exchange, but within the state, shall provide coverage for elective abortions.”

The bill, however, does specify that individuals can purchase “separate supplemental coverage for abortion” that requires paying a separate premium.

The measure is likely to lead to another showdown with Democratic Gov. Brad Henry, who vetoed two abortion-related bills earlier this year. His vetoes, however, were overridden by the legislature.

One of the vetoed bills expanded the state’s informed consent law by requiring abortionists to perform an ultrasound on a mother seeking an abortion, and to show her the screen and give a description of her unborn child at its stage of gestation. Another bill prohibited “wrongful birth” lawsuits, preventing doctors from facing civil liability for failing to provide information that would have led a woman to seek an abortion if she had known.

The Oklahoma bill actually moves a step beyond the model legislation crafted by Americans United for Life, a pro-life public-interest law and policy organization in the United States, which developed draft legislation for states to exploit a provision in the health care reform, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That provision, Sec. 1303, explicitly allows legislatures to mandate their state-run health insurance exchanges prohibit public funds from subsidizing health insurance companies that offer co-pays for abortion.

Already two states, Arizona and Tennessee, have successfully passed such laws. Lawmakers in Florida, Mississippi and Missouri have also passed their own bans on abortion coverage and sent them to their respective governors. Pro-life leaders, however, fear that Gov. Charlie Crist of Flordia may veto the bill.

Lawmakers or public policy groups in nearly thirty states are coordinating with AUL to bring abortion opt-out legislation to their state legislatures.

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