Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Bill to Criminalize Abortion

by | May 23, 2016

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed a measure that would have effectively banned abortion, the latest and most extreme state restriction in the nation.

The law passed Thursday by the state's Republican-dominated Senate would have made performing abortions a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

It would also have barred doctors who perform abortions from obtaining or renewing their medical licenses in Oklahoma, unless they did so to save the life 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,'" the Republican governor said in a statement.

"The absence of any definition, analysis or medical standard renders this exception vague, indefinite and vulnerable to subjective interpretation and application."

Fallin said that she, like the bill's sponsor, wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, but added: "This legislation cannot accomplish that reexamination."

She called instead for "the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the United States Supreme Court."

Fallin had five business days to veto the measure before it automatically became law, set to take effect in November. The Legislature could still override her veto.

Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm, a software developer who sponsored the legislation, did not return calls late Friday.

The state has two abortion clinics and reported 4,487 abortions statewide in 2014, the most recent figures available from Oklahoma's Health Department.

The proposal is only the latest in a wave of state-level abortion restrictions in the U.S. this year.

Earlier this week, South Carolina legislators banned women from obtaining abortions at 20 weeks or later, even if they are victims of rape or incest. Sixteen other states have passed similar legislation.

A case concerning whether Texas abortion restrictions impose an undue burden on women is pending before the Supreme Court, with a ruling expected next month.

(c)2016 Los Angeles Times