If the ongoing debate about transgender access to public bathrooms in North Carolina and Texas wasn’t enough, the “Sooner State” of Oklahoma has entered the national fray regarding social issues with a bill banning doctors from performing abortions. That is to say, the clinical act of a licensed medical official that involves aborting a consenting female adult’s pregnancy before a certain period — a procedure protected by federal law — could become illegal within Oklahoma’s 69,899 square miles of sovereign space if Republican Gov. Mary Fallin decides to approve.
According to the Associated Press, the state Senate voted, 33-12, to pass Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm’s bill on to Fallin’s office during a Thursday session. The vote occurred without any time allotted for debate or discussion, and while Fallin spokesperson Michael McNutt told reporters “the governor will withhold comment until her staff has time to review it,” many suspect the “anti-abortion Republican” won’t veto the bill.
Dahm, the bill’s author, told the AP that life “should be protected” since it begins at conception, and that “it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception.”
Abortion as a medical practice has been protected since 1973, when the United States Supreme Court made its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Since then, numerous legal attempts — successful and otherwise — have tried to curb the decision’s full effect as much as possible. Like in 2003, when President George W. Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act into law.
Oklahoma’s latest contribution to the national debate, however, hopes to render the practice itself illegal from a medical standpoint. So if the new legislation were to become a state law, doctors in Oklahoma would be criminalized for performing abortions. Those caught violating the law could be stripped of their license and face between one to three years in jail.
As MSNBC legal analyst Ari Melber noted, the bill essentially “takes the state’s existing ban on non-doctors performing abortions and applies to doctors.” It sounds like an easy feat of legalese, but if Fallin were to sign it into law, the new legislation would be in direct violation of Roe v. Wade. As a result, the “courts would be asked to block it with an injunction.” Hence why, as the AP reported, abortion rights advocates in Oklahoma and across the country have already promised to challenge the bill should Fallin approve it.
Interestingly, Fallin’s name has been thrown around in the ever-widening field of potential running mates for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Considering the New York real-estate mogul’s recent comments and “clarifications” on abortion as punishment, what the Oklahoma governor decides to do with Dahm’s bill could have larger ramifications for the current race to the White House.
(Via Associated Press)