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Okla. gets tough abortion-ultrasound law

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (BP)–The Oklahoma legislature finished April 27 overriding vetoes of two pro-life bills, only four days after Gov. Brad Henry had rejected them.

The Senate voted 36-12 on both measures. One of the bills requires an ultrasound before an abortion, and the other protects a doctor from a “wrongful birth” lawsuit for failing to persuade the mother to have an abortion. The latter is designed to protect unborn babies who are diagnosed with disabilities and might be considered by some pro-choicers to be better off dead.

The Senate actions enacting the bills came a day after the House of Representatives voted to override the vetoes. The House voted 81-14 for the ultrasound legislation and 84-12 for the “wrongful birth” measure.

“I am proud that the House moved quickly in support of the sanctity of life by overriding the veto of these important pieces of pro-life legislation. This is clearly not a partisan issue,” House Speaker Chris Benge, a Republican, said in a statement. “We must move to stop the degradation of human life seen in recent years and stand up for those who cannot defend themselves.”

State Rep. Lisa Billy, a Republican, sponsored the ultrasound bill, which requires that the doctor provide women information obtained from the ultrasound. The bill specifically requires the doctor to tell the woman what he is seeing, including how big the baby is, whether the baby has a heart, and to describe “the presence of external members and internal organs.” Pro-choice groups criticized the bill because it does not provide for exceptions for rape victims.

“This legislation does nothing more than give women as much information as possible before they make the life-altering decision to have an abortion,” Billy said in a statement. “I don’t want a single woman to go through the life-long torture of having an abortion without having all the relevant information.”

In addition to vetoing the two bills April 23, Henry signed into law a bill seeking to protect pregnant women from being coerced into abortions.

On April 5, Henry, a Democrat, signed three pro-life bills. He endorsed measures that prohibit sex-selection abortions, regulate the use of the abortion drug RU 486 and provide conscience protections for pro-life, health-care workers, according to The Oklahoman newspaper.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, and Michael Foust, an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

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