Seven pro-life bills enacted, insurance measure vetoed
Seven anti-abortion measures entered Oklahoma statute books as a result of the 2010 legislative session. Most of the measures were sparked by controversial judicial decisions concerning the state’s “single subject” rule. An eighth measure fell short late in the session as a result of Governor Brad Henry’s veto.
“With less than two hours remaining in this year’s legislative session before the constitutionally-mandated adjournment time of 5 p.m. (on Friday, May 28), the House still had several budget bills to be enacted in order to fund essential government services for the coming fiscal year.
“The governor waited till the eleventh hour to veto HB 3290, leaving the Legislature very little time to act. And, of course, the governor knew the work load that remained for the House and Senate in the final days because he and they had just reached a budget agreement which then necessitated enacting scores of individual funding bills.
“We regret being unable to override yet another pro-abortion veto by Governor Henry, but we applaud the Oklahoma House and Senate for their magnificent accomplishments this year in defending unborn children, expectant mothers, and pro-life health-care professionals. We look forward to working with our legislators to enact the bill restricting insurance coverage for elective abortions next year.”
On the other side of the abortion divide, Nathaniel Batchelder of The Peace House in Oklahoma City supported the state’s Planned Parenthood Federation in a week-long (May 24-26) push to “storm the Capitol” in support of “reproductive justice.”
Activists wore pink and were seen in the legislative galleries, especially the Senate, throughout the final week of the legislative session. Batchelder said the abortion bills Henry had vetoed were “considered by women’s rights activists to be repressive and cruel.”
At a Capitol news conference on Friday (May 28), members of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice said they had just begun to work on the issues. Batchelder predicted members of the coalition will work “to defeat the Representatives who had sponsored” the measures.
The targeted bills were H.B. 2780 (requiring ultrasounds before abortions); House Bill 2656 (preventing “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life” torts); House Bill 3284 (requiring doctors and patients to complete questionnaires concerning abortion before provision of the procedure); and H.B. 3290 (prohibiting abortion insurance coverage).
Legislators who met with members of the coalition included state Sens. Andrew Rice and Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City, and Judy Eason McIntyre of Tulsa. State Reps. Jeannie McDaniel of Tulsa and Ryan Kiesel of Seminole also applauded the coalition’s efforts.
Gov. Brad Henry had vetoed H.B. 3290 late Wednesday night, saying the bill’s restrictions were onerous and unconstitutional. The entire, united text of the governor’s veto message of the final abortion-related measure of the 2010 legislative session follows:
“Rape and incest victims should be treated with dignity and respect, not subjected to a state-imposed Catch-22 that denies them insurance coverage at such a critical time. HB 3290 creates an unconstitutional barrier to legal medical treatment protected by this nation’s highest court and would result in an expensive lawsuit and potentially futile legal battle for the state.”