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20 April 2010 @ 09:20 pm
Okla. lawmakers approve several abortion bills  

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Senate approved several bills Monday that opponents say would make it more difficult or uncomfortable for women to get abortions, including one that would require women seeking the procedures early in their pregnancies to undergo an invasive form of ultrasound.

The five bills, some of which will go to Gov. Brad Henry for consideration and others which will return to the House, were overwhelmingly approved by the Republican-controlled Senate. If given final approval, the bills would give Oklahoma some of the most restrictive laws of any state, an abortion rights group says.

One of the laws headed to the governor would require doctors to use a vaginal probe in cases where it would provide a clearer picture of the fetus than a regular ultrasound. Doctors have said this is usually the case early in pregnancies, when most abortions are done.

"You're going to force someone to undergo an invasive medical procedure," objected state Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, who voted against the bill. "You have to invasively put an instrument inside the woman. This could be your 15-year-old daughter who was raped."

At least three states require ultrasounds before all abortions, but no other states require vaginal ultrasounds or that doctors to describe the image to women.

State Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, who sponsored the ultrasound bill, said the goal was to provide women seeking an abortion with as much information possible before they had the procedure.

Henry vetoed the ultrasound requirement in larger bill two years ago, arguing it had no exclusions for victims of rape or incest. But his veto was overridden when anti-abortion Democrats joined with Republicans. The bill was later ruled unconstitutional because it dealt with more than one subject. The bill passed Monday also has no exceptions. Henry has not indicated whether he will sign it.

It passed 35-11 Monday with several Democrats voting with Republicans. Of the five women in the Senate, all Democrats, two voted for the bill and three voted against.

The other abortion measures would require women to complete a lengthy questionnaire before receiving an abortion, mandate certain signs be posted in an abortion clinics and prevent so-called "wrongful-life" lawsuits in cases where a parent might argue that a child with birth defects or other problems would have been better off aborted. Another bill would prohibit state insurance exchanges, created under the new federal health care law, from covering abortions.

"Senate Republicans continue to fight for life of the unborn, and today we saw members from both parties join together in supporting this great cause," said Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City.

Another bill would require a woman seeking an abortionand her doctor to complete a 38-question form that asks, among other things, the woman's age, race, education, number of previous pregnancies and reason for seeking an abortion.

State Sen. Clark Jolley, who sponsored that bill, said it would help policymakers answer questions about which women seek abortions and why, providing valuable data that could be used to craft policies to prevent abortions.

"This is an effort to try and reduce the incidents of a tragic procedure that is used way too often," said Jolley, R-Edmond.

The reporting requirements and the ultrasound bill are among the strictest anti-abortion measures in the country, said Jennifer Mondino, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which successfully challenged abortion-related bills passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2008 and 2009.

Seven of the anti-abortion bills passed by the Legislature so far this year were included previously in larger bills struck down in separate court cases for violating a state requirement that bills deal with only one subject.

"We're very disappointed that the Legislature has decided to pass these bills and open themselves up to possible legal challenges in the future," Mondino said. "We've been monitoring the bills, and it's definitely a significant possibility we'll be challenging some or even all the bills."

The ultrasound, wrongful-life and abortion clinic sign bills head to the governor for consideration. The other measures will return to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.
Paradise: Pro-Choice Iconparadisekendra on April 21st, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
It's insane how much fighting we have to do to keep a simple right afloat.