Oklahoma Governor Sees Reason, Vetoes Antiabortion Bill
Update: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin vetoed a bill that would have charged any doctor who performed an abortion with a felony, which would have functionally banned the procedure in the state, Oklahoma City's KOCO reports. Fallin said in a statement released Friday afternoon that the bill was just too vague about what would count as an exception (the bill would not charge a doctor who performed an abortion if it were to save the live of the mother."
"The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered 'necessary to preserve the life of the mother,'" Fallin said.
"The absence of any definition, analysis or medical standard renders this exception vague, indefinite and vulnerable to subjective interpretation and application," she said in a message that accompanied her veto. That's right: The bill didn't meet her standards not because it's blatantly unconstitutional or cruel to women, but because the exception left too much room for women to get abortions and just call them "life-saving."
On Thursday, the state legislature passed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by jail time and the loss of a doctor's medical license. And it wouldn't just apply to doctors that perform abortions — just assisting in a procedure would be a crime.
There are only two abortion providers in the whole state, and 96 percent of all Oklahoma counties have no abortion providers—well over half of the state’s women of reproductive age live in those counties. The law would have been unenforceable and unconstitutional as long as Roe v. Wade is in effect, but with one Supreme Court seat still vacant and a heated presidential race under way, lawmakers in the Sooner State just couldn't wait to get a ban on the books in case Donald Trump ends up in the White House.
Oklahoma’s attempt at a state-wide ban on all abortion comes on the heels of Utah passing a new law requiring that fetuses receive anesthesia before an abortion can be performed — something physicians say is impossible to do, thus making abortion effectively illegal in the state; Indiana banning abortions performed because of genetic abnormalities found in the fetus; and South Carolina passing a bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization on May 18.
In a statement, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said, “This bill puts doctors in the cross hairs for providing women with the option of exercising our fundamental right to decide how and when to start a family. And it creates penalties for doctors doing their jobs: performing a safe and legal medical procedure. This obviously unconstitutional bill will never withstand legal scrutiny. ... This bill is not about protecting women. It is about advancing a far-right wing agenda that is out of step with the seven in 10 Americans who support legal access to abortion."
Other restrictions already imposed on abortion in Oklahoma include mandatory state-directed counseling meant to dissuade a woman from having an abortion, a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortions, parental notification of abortion for minors, and a ban on abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization unless the life of the woman is proved to be at risk. Despite what
Donald Trump might have told you, we already punish women who have abortions.
More From Glamour:
• We Already "Punish Women" Who Have Abortions
• How I Learned Feminism From My Abortion-Provider Grandmother
• This Supreme Court Case Could Get Between You and Your Birth Control
• Why Roe v. Wade Still Matters
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