House overrides veto of abortion reporting

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 24-May-2010

A bipartisan coalition voted today (Monday, May 24) to override Gov. Brad Henry’s veto of legislation that would enhance reporting of abortions and any resulting complications.

“As I have consistently noted, abortion is the most under-regulated, under-investigated and under-researched procedure performed on women, and yet it’s one of the most common and potentially dangerous to their health,” said state Rep. Pam Peterson, a Tulsa Republican. “If we truly want to reduce the number of abortions, we need really learn why women feel that abortion is their only option. I appreciate the lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, who joined me in voting to override the governor’s veto today.”

House Bill 3284, by Peterson, creates the Statistical Abortion Reporting Act and requires physicians who perform abortions to report certain information to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The bill directs the department to publish annual statistical reports on its website. The information obtained will be used to inform public policy decisions in the future, Peterson said.

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

Peterson defended her bill, and noted it specifically declares that state reports cannot contain the name, address, hometown, county of residence, or any other identifying information of any individual female. No individual questionnaire would ever be posted.

“The annual report will contain absolutely no personally identifying information – only accumulated statistics,” Peterson said. “The purpose of this law is to identify and address the underlying problems that cause women to have abortions, not to identify any individual woman.”

The clinic questionnaire would include information on basic demographics, age of the child aborted, methods used, the reasons given for obtaining an abortion, and resulting complications.

The question asking the reasons given for an abortion was based on a survey conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, the former research division of Planned Parenthood. Under H.B. 3284, women can decline to answer questions.

Peterson said it is important to learn why abortions are occurring.

“In cases of unplanned pregnancies, it is important we have better information to improve public policies that will help women in crisis situations,” she said.

The Oklahoma House voted 84-13 to override the governor’s veto. The override drive now proceeds to the state Senate.