Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma, vetoed a controversial new abortion bill today. The proposed law, which would make performing abortions an offense punishable by law, was meant to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling to make abortions legal in all 50 states. Under the new bill, doctors who provided women with help terminating their pregnancy would be subject to possible jail time.
If you’re wondering whether the bill’s purpose was truly about protecting women from dangerous methods used by unlicensed practitioners, you should know that it wasn’t. Oklahoma already makes it a felony to perform an abortion without a license, but this bill would make doctors — who have been exempt up until this point — follow the same rules, facing up to three years of incarceration for terminating pregnancies. Unfortunately, as studies have shown, criminalizing abortions doesn’t lower their rates — it actually pushes them higher.
Fallin’s veto rested on the fact that the bill’s language was “vague” and would “not hold up against legal challenge,” but others were much less kind in their assessment. According to The Associated Press, the senate’s only physician, Republican Irvin Yen, called the bill “insane.” Senator Nathan Dahm, the bill’s sponsor, however, will likely continue fighting to overturn Roe V. Wade. “Since I believe life begins at conception,” Dahm said after the bill passed legislature, “I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception.”
As noted yesterday, if the bill had passed, it would not take hold immediately, if ever, due to the fact that the courts would put an injunction on it immediately. This isn’t the end of the fight against criminalizing abortion in the state, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction in protecting women’s reproductive health. It’s still cold comfort, though, considering that Donald Trump, a man who is closer to the presidency than ever, has stated that women who get abortions should be punished for the crime. He tried to backtrack on that comment and, of course, made no sense at all.