Governor Henry vetoes two pro-life bills
By Patrick B. McGuigan
Supporters of the status quo in abortion law have lobbied Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry to veto a second wave of anti-abortion measures this session. On Friday (April 23), the chief executive gave them something to cheer when he vetoed two proposals.
House Bill 2780 would have required ultrasounds and explanations of abortion before the procedure. Another law, House Bill 2656, was intended to put limits on post-birth abortion litigation.
In a press release from his office, the governor said H.B 2780 had flaws and would be challenged in court. He also said the lack of exemptions for victims of rape and incest led him to oppose the bill.
The governor vetoed a similar law in 2008 but was overridden. That law had other provisions and was struck down, in a controversial decision, as violating the state’s single subject rule for legislation.
Henry said the bill “represents an unconstitutional attempt by the Oklahoma Legislature to insert government into the private lives and decisions of its citizens. State policymakers should never mandate that a citizen be forced to undergo any medical procedure against his or her will, especially when such a procedure could cause physical or mental trauma. To do so amounts to an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.”
He continued, “Because a similar provision of law has already been struck down by the courts, this legislation will be challenged again, resulting in a costly and potentially futile legal battle for the state.”
Gov. Henry also vetoed HB 2656, legislation limiting “wrongful life” or “wrongful birth” claims in tort litigation. On H.B. 2780, the governor said lack of an emergency clause on the measure means legislators will need a three-fourths majority to override him.
Every Republican in the state Senate present and voting on the proposals supported the bills. Ten of the 22 Democrats in the upper chamber also supported the pro-life measures. Those Democrats will be key players in any attempt to override the veto of H.B. 2780.
Senate Democrats, members of the governor’s party, who voted for the vetoed measures are Randy Bass of Lawton, Sean Burrage of Claremore, Kenneth Corn of Poteau, Mary Easley of Tulsa, Jerry Ellis of Valliant, Earl Garrison of Muskogee, Jay Paul Gumm of Durant, Tom Ivester of Elk City, Charlie Laster of Shawnee and Susan Paddack of Ada.
Governor Henry has had a mixed record on abortion-related laws, having signed several means while vetoing measures in each of the last four year.