Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin, a very vocal pro-life politician being considered as a possible running-mate for presidential hopeful Donald Trump, shocked Oklahoma this week when she vetoed an abortion bill that would have made conducting an abortion in her state a felony.
The bill, SB1552, was meant to punish anyone who performed or induced an abortion, except in cases where the abortion could have saved the life of the expecting mother. Violation of the legislation would have been punishable by anywhere from one to three years in prison. Any doctor that had a hand in an abortion that was conducted without being necessary in saving the life of the patient, would have lost their medical license.
Last month, the abortion bill passed through the Oklahoma House with a vote of 59 to nine. This past Thursday, it made its way through the Senate with a vote of 33 to 12. Governor Mary Fallin wasted no time in vetoing SB1552.
According to the Washington Post, Gov. Fallin issued a message to lawmakers reminding them that she has “signed no less than 18 bills supporting pro-life and pro-family values.” The statement was meant to remind the Senate that Fallin is a pro-life politician and that her veto of the bill had nothing to do with personal politics.
“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 the mother,’” the republican governor explained in her statement.
Gov. Fallin went on to say that she supported most legislation meant to examine, or overturn, the past decision of Roe v. Wade.
“In fact, the most direct path to a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade is the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the United States Supreme Court,” the governor went on to explain.
Sherri Baker, President of The Oklahoma State Medical Association, told the Washington Post that they considered the bill a “slap in the face” to medical providers. They praised Gov. Fallin’s decision.
“This bill would have, in a very unprecedented way, made … the performance of a legal medical procedure a criminal act. We are very pleased and very grateful for Governor Fallin for her leadership today.”
Sometimes, a governor’s veto is seen as the end of a bill until it’s amended, but not always.
The abortion bill was originally authored and presented by republican Senator Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow.
Senator Dahm told The Guardian that he saw Gov. Fallin’s veto of the abortion bill as “petty.” He didn’t explain the reasoning behind his accusation, but he went on to explain that he was considering the possibility of pushing for an override of the governor’s veto.
“I have not made a decision,” Senator Dahm said. “That’s what we’re pursuing, what we’d like to see accomplished.”
He went on to tell the publication that it might be difficult for senators who originally voted for the abortion bill to support the veto override, lest the governor’s scorn be turned on them.
“Sometimes people, even if they voted for the bill, are hesitant to vote to override the governor’s veto because of their concern about the governor being petty and vindictive and vetoing some of their legislation.”
A law professor at the University of California, Berkley, Kristen Luker, explained to the Washington Post that although states have the freedom to regulate abortions in ways that make it difficult for patients, it crosses into “unconstitutional” territory when the regulations place an “undue burden” on the patient involved.
In other words, as long as the state doesn’t outright make abortion illegal, they can pass any bill they want regarding the subject.
[Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]