New Anti-Abortion Oklahoma Laws Apply Emotional Screws to Choice
By Nordette Adams on April 28, 2010
BlogHer Original Post
In what could be considered an excellent example of states' rights versus federal law that protects women's reproductive and civil rights, the Oklahoma legislature voted Tuesday to override Democratic Gov. Brad Henry's veto of two constraining abortion laws. One requires pregnant women to see the fetus in the womb and hear details about its development and appearance so the women will understand that they carry life, babies. The other law protects doctors from lawsuits if they fail to inform women of a fetal defect.
From the New York Times:
Though other states have passed similar measures requiring women to have ultrasounds, Oklahoma’s law goes further, mandating that a doctor or technician set up the monitor so the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims.
A second measure passed into law on Tuesday prevents women who have had a disabled baby from suing a doctor for withholding information about birth defects while the child was in the womb. (More)
Here is CNN's video report on the Oklahoma measures:
Megan McKee at The Jurist has a short, clear summary with the following information:
The Oklahoma Senate voted to approve [JURIST report] five anti-abortion bills last week, sending three to Henry for his approval and returning two to the Oklahoma State House of Representatives [official website]. Pending House approval, two additional bills would require a woman to answer 38 questions [HB 3284 text, RTF], including why she is seeking an abortion, and prohibit state health plans from covering elective abortions [HB 3290 text, RTF].
Writing at Zelda Lily, Sarah says:
I kind of understand (sort of) the whole educating-thing on showing a woman who’s decided to get an abortion what her baby looks like — it’s not cool, but it’s understandable, but isn’t that kind of oh … torturous to show a rape and/or incest victim the same kind of footage?
The second part of the law passed prevents physicians who practice abortions from malpractice suits, more or less relieving them from liability if a patient has abortion-related complications or worse, dies. This has got me completely wigged out. (Sarah at Zelda Lily)
She is not the only person who is "wigged out." In her comments section, women express further concern about the other upcoming bill, the same one referenced in The Jurist citation, that will require women to complete abortion-related surveys. An Associated Press story reports on that bill and others related to the Oklahoma anti-abortion crackdown.
Initial votes in favor of the bills and the subsequent veto override were heavily Republican. Nevertheless, at Shakesville, Melissa McEwan blames Oklahoma's Democratic legislators for dropping the ball. She says the Democratic leaders are too willing to compromise on abortion rights, and that President Barack Obama is to blame because he encourages consensus in ways that makes all policy, no matter how abhorrent, negotiable. In addition, she says Oklahoma's anti-choice laws treat women like they are "ninny-brained infants," incapable of making decisions about their own bodies.
Christine at the Catholic View feels otherwise. She writes that she's "always glad to see a pro-life victory :)" and implies pro-choice language is colored with irony because it ignores the rights or unborn.
Blue Collar Todd at Standing in the Gap for Life shares a similar sentiment and also believes a pro-choice philosophy actually undermines a woman's right to be fully informed about abortion:
These bills really expose the hypocrisy of the "pro-choice" abortion rights advocates. First, they really pro-abortion and the only "choice" they will tolerate is the one that ends in the death of the unborn baby. Second, they really do not want women to make an informed choice, contrary to all their yelling about getting information to women. If they were truly concerned about a woman having all the facts before having an abortion, they would not oppose such common sense legislation.
It was once said that Christians feared the constant chipping of rocks away from the fossils because it would reveal the truth of evolution. Well, feminists and their pro-abortion friends are deathly afraid of the power button being turned on and the ultra sound machine actually showing the new mother the human life inside her body. (Todd)
Jim Daly writing at Focus on the Family is cheering the Oklahoma lawmakers as well.
In contrast, Rachel at Women's Health News believes it was right for Henry to veto the bills in the first place, but she questions the language of the veto. She suggests that rhetoric exempting women who've been raped or who are victims of incest from being forced to look at the fetus in womb implies women who had consensual sex deserve to be psychologically tortured if they consider abortion.
Earlier this month, outraged about having victims of rape and incest undergo examinations demanded by the Oklahoma laws, Karoli at Momocrats wrote, "Oklahoma legislature votes to screw women," and she suggested women should take their daughters and leave the state.
Additionally, the NYT article says that advocates for women and family planning assert that as a whole, Oklahoma's various measures "would make Oklahoma one of the most prohibitive environments in the United States for women seeking to end a pregnancy." The Center for Reproductive Rights in New York has already filed a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma's new anti-abortion laws.