Attempt to override abortion reporting veto likely

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 24-May-2010

Monday morning (May 24), pro-life advocates in the Oklahoma Legislature were deliberating timing of a likely attempt to override Gov. Brad Henry’s Saturday morning veto of House Bill 3284

Even if the state House, where anti-abortion sentiment is strongest, successfully overrides the governor’s negative verdict, it’s unlikely the state Senate could take up the bill earlier than Tuesday.

State Rep. Pam Peterson, a Tulsa Republican, is author of the measure, intended to require reporting of reasons women seek abortions, and reporting of complications resulting from the procedure.  

Planned Parenthood said advocates would gather in the state Senate gallery today (Monday, May 24) to back the governor’s veto of a measure the group  characterized as “intrusive, insulting and unconstitutional.” An action memo concluded, “We know we cannot convince enough representatives in the house, but there is a strong chance to convince at least 17 senators” to sustain the veto.

Tony Lauinger of Oklahomans for Life had hoped to gain support from Gov. Henry, who has a mixed record on abortion. One year ago, the chief executive, a Democrat, had signed similar language into law. In a controversial edict, that law was struck down for violating the state’s “single subject” rule for legislation.

In a recent letter to the governor, Lauinger said pro-lifers took “virtually all” of key language of contention in an Individual Abortion form (pages 7-9 of H.B. 3284) from the Guttmacher Institute of New York. The institute was formerly the research arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Both the institute and the federation advocate abortion rights.

Lauinger told Henry, “The questions are not meant to be intrusive; they are intended, simply, to elicit information that would be beneficial from a public-health and public-policy standpoint.” Rationale for the question was to seek reasons for abortions, to “inform public debate and policy” regarding abortions. Those answering the survey would have an option to decline responding. Answers are to be compiled in aggregate, with no individuals identified.

Lauinger wrote, “The abortion reporting that is currently done in Oklahoma is minimal.  HB 3284 provides an organized reporting framework, is HIPPA-compliant, serves an important public-health need, and will make it possible to identify and address underlying causes that lead to abortions. Having such accurate, current, Oklahoma-specific public-health data could allow solving some of these underlying problems in ways that would avoid the taking of a human life.”

Data would be posted in an annual statistical summary of data relating to abortion, with no names, patient numbers, dates of birth, hometowns, addresses or zip codes included.

Lauinger concluded, “Abortion in America is often described as being ‘safe, legal, and rare.’  H.B. 3284 seeks to gauge the accuracy of that statement.”