Ending her first 100 days, Governor Mary Fallin signs two pro-life bills

Governor Mary Fallin yesterday (Wednesday, April 20) signed two strongly pro-life measures in a Blue Room ceremony at the Oklahoma state Capitol. The event drew several dozen members of the Legislature. Both political parties and both chambers of the Legislature were represented at the signing.

Fallin said the event’s timing – on her one hundredth day in the executive mansion – was intended to signal the state’s, and her own, commitment to “protect the sanctity of innocent human life.” 

State Rep. Peterson of Tulsa and state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond, both Republicans, were sponsors of the first measure signed, House Bill 1888, deemed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The measure bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. 

In her remarks, Peterson reflected, “This bill has caught up with medical science.” Peterson made a point of thanking “all of those who have stood with us in years past,” including former state Rep. Kevin Calvey, state Rep. Rebecca Hamilton of Oklahoma City (a Democrat) and current House Majority Floor Leader Dan Sullivan of Tulsa, who is a Republican like Peterson. 

Sen. Jolley commended Fallin for holding the ceremony on the day she did. Concerning abortion policy, Jolley said, “Those who have the most to lose in this issue don’t have a voice in the debate.” 

State Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore and Rep. Dennis Johnson of Duncan, Republicans, were co-sponsors of Senate Bill 547, a measure that stipulates that individuals desiring abortion coverage in the state must purchase supplemental coverage with a separate premium. It bans abortion coverage in policies sold through any potential Oklahoma health exchange.

Sykes pointed back to an unsuccessful override effort he guided last year, after then-Governor Brad Henry vetoed a similar measure. He told Fallin, “You’ve made a dream come true today.” 

In brief remarks, Rep. Johnson said, concerning unborn children, “If you listen carefully, you can hear them clapping.”

Tony Lauinger of Oklahomans for Life also spoke at the event, extolling Fallin and other elected officials for their anti-abortion stances. Lauinger said:

“We deeply appreciate the pro-life leadership of Governor Mary Fallin, and the pro-life leadership of our legislators who are present. We are grateful for their principled and selfless defense of the youngest members of our human family, the helpless, voiceless unborn child – who will never vote for them, never be able to thank them, but whose very lives depend on the courage, perseverance, and dedication of these public servants who stand in defense of innocent human life.

“There is a story, titled ‘Sing a Little Louder,’ of a church in Germany during World War II. The church stood near some railroad tracks. On Sunday mornings, trains could be heard – heading east. Those in the church knew who were on those trains, knew where the trains were going, and knew why. But in order to avoid thinking about the implications of it all, in order to drown out the noise, whenever they heard a train coming, the congregation would simply ‘sing a little louder.’

“We, in America, have surpassed many times over, the death toll of the camps of the Third Reich. Fifty-three million babies have been killed since 1973. Fifty-three million. That is the legacy of Roe v. Wade.

“But amidst this culture of death, our elected officials in Oklahoma have been building a culture of life. They recognize that a civilized society should not dismember babies who are demonstrably capable of feeling pain. They see that scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, experience increased stress hormones when subjected to pain, and require anesthesia when undergoing fetal surgery. 

“They likewise recognize that abortion is not health care, that it is the antithesis of health care, and that it is inherently contradictory to require an act – the justification for which rests on a so-called ‘right of privacy’ – to be financed with public funds, or with the pooled funds of pro-life premium payers who don’t want to be complicit in the killing. 

“Our society will one day be judged by how we have treated the least among us, those at the margins of life. We are deeply grateful to our governor, and our legislators, for their wisdom, their humanity, and their faithfulness to the innocent children waiting to be born.”

In his comments just moments before Fallin signed the two bills, state Rep. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow said, “This is a great day for Oklahomans who believe in the sanctity of life. Both of the bills signed into law today send a clear message that Oklahoma is a state that respects the lives of the unborn.”

Ritze was original sponsor of S.B. 547, and worked closely with Johnson to shepherd the measure to passage. One of two physicians in the state Legislature, Dr. Ritze is a Board Certified Family Practice Physician and Surgeon. He has delivered more than 2,000 babies.

Ritze said, “Thanks to this new law, Oklahomans who believe in the sanctity of life will not be forced to indirectly subsidize the abortion industry .”

In addition to the sponsors and Reps. Sullivan and Hamilton, the event was packed with pro-life advocates at the Capitol, including Speaker of the House Kris Steele, and state Reps. Randy McDaniel of Oklahoma City, Ann Coody of Lawton, Elise Hall of Oklahoma City, Todd Thomsen of Ada, George Faught of Muskogee, Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City, Gary Banz of Midwest City, Randy Grau of Edmond, Sue Tibbs of Tulsa, Sally Kern of Oklahoma City, Sally kern of Oklahoma City, and Percy Walker of Elk City. 

Also participating were Sens. Dan Newberry of Tulsa and Kim  

Governor Fallin, in a prepared statement issued after the ceremony, said, “I believe in the sanctity of human life and the responsibility of our lawmakers to protect life,” said Governor Fallin. “Together, these two pieces of legislation will expand protections for unborn children and ensure that Oklahomans are not forced to unknowingly or unwillingly help to pay for procedures that run contrary to their values.”