On Thursday, the Oklahoma legislature passed a controversial abortion bill that would have made performing an abortion in Oklahoma a felony. Just one day later, Republican Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed the abortion bill, which would have effectively outlawed abortion in the state and flown directly in the face of established U.S. abortion law precedent. As NBC News reports, Oklahoma’s governor vetoed the controversial abortion bill because she said that it was vague and couldn’t stand up to any inevitable legal challenges.
According to the sponsor of the bill, Republican Senator Nathan Dahm, inciting legal challenges was precisely what the bill was intended to do. Dahm said that the controversial anti-abortion legislation was designed to be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that ultimately legalized abortion nationwide.
The controversial Oklahoma abortion bill would have turned performing an abortion into a felonious act. Anyone convicted of performing the procedure in the state of Oklahoma would have faced up to three years in prison. The newly-vetoed bill would have targeted licensed doctors who perform abortions. Under current Oklahoma law, anyone who’s not a doctor who performs an abortion is already guilty of a felony, so the vetoed legislation was putting licensed physicians in the cross hairs.
Essentially, Dahm’s anti-abortion bill would have made Oklahoma the first state in the nation to utterly outlaw abortions by removing the exemption for physicians currently on the books.
The bill also would also have prevented any doctor convicted of performing an abortion in Oklahoma from obtaining or renewing a license to practice medicine in the state.
Despite being a first-of-its-kind bill in the United States, Oklahoma’s controversial abortion bill passed through the state’s legislature with no debate or discussion on Thursday.
While the governor unsurreptitiously vetoed the bill, it’s not entirely dead yet. Legislators could still by attempt a “veto override” to make their bill law. In order to be successful, the bill would have to pass both chambers with a two-thirds majority.
After the controversial Oklahoma anti-abortion bill passed on Thursday, Dahm was ecstatic, telling the media forthrightly that he had hopes that the bill would lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned.
“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception.”
The now-vetoed Oklahoma bill did not differentiate between early-term abortions and late-term abortions. It also allowed no provisions or exceptions for victims of rape, inces,t or fetal abnormalities. In fact, according to NPR, the only exception allowed under the controversial Oklahoma bill was to “preserve the life of the mother.” However, as Governor Fallin said on Friday, the bill’s ambiguous wording was so vague that doctor’s would be left uncertain what medical issues would qualify for an exemption from felony charges.
“The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of a mother.'”
Fallin is considered the most pro-life governor in the United States, and she has a long history of voting in favor of pro-life measures, but even she couldn’t abide by the extreme nature of the controversial Oklahoma abortion bill.
The only doctor in the Oklahoma Senate, Senator Ervin Yen (a Republican) called the anti-abortion legislation “insane” and voted against it. Senator Yen further predicted that the bill would be “declared null and void” if it were signed into law. With a stroke of her pen, however, Governor Fallin did what she could to prevent the legislation from making it that far.
The Center for Reproductive Rights contacted the notoriously pro-life Fallin after the anti-abortion bill passed without discussion. They asked the governor, who has long been a foe to abortion rights activists, to veto the bill, and they commented on the discriminatory nature of the restrictive legislation.
“This measure is harmful, discriminatory, clearly unconstitutional, and insulting to Oklahoma women and their families.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights has a complex history of battling the Oklahoma Governor in court due to previous anti-abortion laws passed in the state. This time around, however, they didn’t have to. Governor Fallin clearly agreed with their assessment of the controversial Oklahoma abortion bill, and she did what she could do to save them the trouble bringing the matter before the courts.
While the pro-choice community has expressed a collective sigh of relief regarding Governor Fallin’s decision to veto the controversial bill, the pro-life community is outraged. Both sides took to social media to share their thoughts on the contentious issue.
So, what do you think? Was Fallin’s decision to veto the abortion bill the right one? Have we heard the end of this story? Or will Oklahoma’s controversial abortion bill be revamped with a veto override?
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