A War on Women in Oklahoma
by Charles Lemos, Tue Apr 27, 2010 at 09:32:11 PM EDT
The Republican-controlled legislature in Oklahoma today overrode the veto of Governor Brad Henry, a Democrat, to pass one of the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion laws.
There are two measures. The first requires that women undergo an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before having an abortion. This is tantamount to psychological torture. The second measure now law in the Sooner State protects doctors from malpractice suits if they decide not to inform the parents of a unborn baby that the fetus has birth defects. The intent of this measure is to prevent parents from later suing doctors who withhold information to try to influence them against having an abortion.
From the New York Times:
Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, vetoed both bills last week. The ultrasound law, he said, was flawed because it did not exempt rape and incest victims and was an unconstitutional intrusion into a woman’s privacy. He painted the other measure as immoral.
“It is unconscionable to grant a physician legal protection to mislead or misinform pregnant women in an effort to impose his or her personal beliefs on a patient,” Mr. Henry said.
The Republican majorities in both houses, however, saw things differently. On Monday, the House voted overwhelmingly to override the vetoes, and the Senate followed suit at 10:42 a.m. Tuesday, making the two measures law.
The ultrasound law was part of a bill that was struck down by the state courts last August because it violated a clause in the Oklahoma Constitution that requires bills to deal with only one subject. Republican lawmakers vowed at the time to pass it again.
This year, Republican leaders passed five separate antiabortion bills to satisfy the courts’ concerns. Mr. Henry signed one into law: it required that clinics post signs stating a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion, that an abortion cannot be performed until a woman gives her voluntary consent, and that abortions based on a child’s gender are illegal.
Two other antiabortion bills are still working their way through the legislature. One would force women to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about their reasons for seeking an abortion and then post statistics online based on the answers. The other restricts insurance coverage for the procedure.
Though many states have passed similar laws aimed at curbing abortion, with Tuesday’s action, Oklahoma appears to have become the most hostile to women seeking to end a pregnancy, said Dionne Scott, a spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group for abortion rights based in New York.
“It’s the most extreme ultrasound requirement in the country,” she said.
These days anything touched by Republican hands is, by definition, extreme. This is a party that has declared war on women, on immigrants, on the elderly, on the sick and infirm, on those with pre-existing conditions, on the poor, on you and on me. These laws are, as Governor Henry noted, unconscionable.