Legislature overrides governor’s pro-life vetoes

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 27-Apr-2010

The state Senate today (Tuesday, April 27) twice voted by margins of 36-12 to override Governor Brad Henry’s vetoes of pro-life measures. 

Defending the governor’s vetoes and arguing against the override attempts were Senators Richard Lerblance of Hartshorne, Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City, Tom Adelson of Tulsa, Debbe Leftwich of Oklahoma City and Judy Eason McIntyre.

Adelson read aloud Governor Henry’s veto message on the first of the two measures, House Bill 2780.

Sen. Eason McIntyre held the Senate floor longest in today’s debate, pleading with members to “take your hands off women” and sustain Henry’s vetoes.

Arguing for the overrirde were Randy Brogdon of Owasso, Dan Newberry of Tulsa, Steve Russell of Oklahoma City and Anthony Sykes of Moore. Brogdon shared a story about his wife’s mentoring of a young unwed mother. Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee did comment in advance of the vote, but had previously pledged his support for the override attempts.

Closing debate on the first measure, Sen. Sykes introduced state Rep. Lisa Billy of Purcell, author of the measure, and said he appreciated her activism for-life causes.

House Bill 2780 requires that doctors provide women information obtained from an ultrasound prior to performing an abortion. The House yesterday voted 81-14 to override the governor’s veto, which was far above the three-fourths vote required.

Vetoes normally require only a two-thirds vote in each chamber. In his case the higher number was required due to “emergency clause” provisions attached to each of the bills.

Without debate, Senators voted also to override the governor’s veto of House Bill 2656, by state Rep. Dan Sullivan. The new law makes it illegal to sue a doctor claiming “wrongful birth” or “wrongful life” torts. 

Shortly after the senate vote, Gov. Brad Henry issued this statement: “Obviously, I am disappointed by the action because it signals the beginning of another costly and possibly futile legal battle for the state of Oklahoma. Both laws will be challenged and, in all likelihood, overturned by the courts as unconstitutional.  I fear this entire exercise will ultimately be a waste of taxpayers’ time and money.”

Sen. Mike Mazzei of Tulsa, on long-term medical leave, came to the Senate for the vote.

Senate Democrats, members of the governor’s party, who voted for the veto overrides 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. 

After the successful overrides, Sen. Coffee issues this statement:

“This is a good day for the cause of life. Today a bipartisan Senate majority made a bold statement in support of the sanctity of life.  Those who rallied behind this cause reflected the core values of Oklahoma citizens, and I applaud my colleagues in providing more safeguards for the life of the unborn.

“I would remind the Governor and those who would seek to overturn this action that the Governor has already signed two pro-life bills into law this session that had been previously overturned by the courts on a technicality, not substance.

“That same technicality applies to the two vetoes that were overturned today. The argument that these bills will be challenged in the courts is speculative.   

“The voice of the people has spoken twice now this session in the Senate and twice in the House, and I sincerely hope those who would reverse the people’s voice would think twice before acting.”