Following House, Senate overrides abortion reporting veto

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 25-May-2010

The Oklahoma state Senate this morning (Tuesday, May 25) overrode Governor Brad Henry’s veto of House Bill 3284, the abortion reporting and data collection measure co-sponsored by Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond and Rep. Pam Peterson of Tulsa.

The Senate vote was 33-15, with seven Democrats joining all but one Republican to support the legislation and reverse the governor’s veto.

In closing debate, Sen. Jim Reynolds of Oklahoma City, a conservative pro-life Republican, opposed the override, contending the questionnaire and reporting requirements in the new law violated rights of privacy and other concerns. 

Sen. Tom Adelson argued the legislation was designed to intimidate women seeking abortions. The Tulsa Democrat also said that consistency from advocates of the bill would require them to seek to put women on death row after they get abortions.

Sen. Jolley rebuked Adelson’s argument, contending that data collection might help prevent the need for abortions and increase understanding of the circumstances facing those seeking the procedure. He quoted from a Guttmacher Institute journal article concluding data collection could help in discerning reasons for abortions. Jolly said, “Data is pure – why are people making these decisions?” He argued strongly for the override, and his view prevailed.

In his veto, Gov. Henry had described  the questionnaire created by the legislation as “personally invasive.”

Peterson and other advocates of restrictions on abortion immediately moved to override, prevailing in an 84-13 vote on Monday.

In a recent letter to the governor, Tony Lauinger of Okalhomans for Life 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.

Several dozen supporters of the governor’s veto watched the debate and vote from the Senate gallery. They wore pink in response to an action memorandum distributed yesterday morning by Planned Parenthood. The activists had hoped to convince 17 members to sustain Henry’s veto.

The measure will now become law.