Victory over the ruling that the Oklahoma multi topic abortion bill was unconstitutional appears to be short lived. State legislators have now begun the task of dividing both previously unimplemented abortion bills into multiple separate bills, each of which has now passed through committee.
In other action, the panel passed four separate abortion measures that previously had been declared unconstitutional because they had been combined in one bill.
Bills must deal with only one subject.
The panel passed HB 3290 by Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow. It would require a doctor to be in the room when the abortion pill RU486 is administered.
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The panel also passed HB 2780 by Rep. Lisa Billy, R-Lindsay, which would require women who seek an abortion to have an ultrasound and have its contents explained to them.
Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole, said the Legislature should focus on preventing unintended pregnancies rather than bringing further disgrace and shame to women facing the most difficult decision of their lives.
Billy responded: “This bill is about choice for women. It is an opportunity for her to understand what is growing inside of her and the consequences.”
The panel passed HB 3110 by Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, which would allow health-care providers who object to abortion not to participate in the procedure.
Peterson’s other abortion bill, HB 3284, also passed.
It would require women who seek abortions to provide a host of information about themselves to be posted on a public Web site.
The four bills now through committee are a broken down combination of previously unconstitutional multi topic bills. The ultrasound, RU486 and conscience clauses came from one earlier 2008 bill, and the statistical reporting act is derived from the bill declared unconstitutional last week.
Still not reintroduced is a bill regarding abortion for gender of the fetus, although it is expected to be in the works.
Perhaps the only thing really shocking about the laws being sent back through so quickly is that lawmakers didn’t take more advantage of being in the limelight by spreading them out a bit, according to Tulsa World.
The judge’s action means Oklahoma lawmakers will now have multiple opportunities to preen and posture for the voters — all without accomplishing anything useful.
Oklahoma County District Judge Daniel Owens last week ruled that the new law, which would have banned abortions based on gender, violated the state’s rule that legislation address a single subject.
Owens noted that the gender-selection ban took up only two paragraphs of the entire bill, which also included requirements that doctors obtain extensive personal information from patients for placement on a state-sponsored Web site. Names would not be revealed but opponents still believe women could be identifiable.
The ban on gender-based abortions is unnecessary. Even lawmakers who pushed the bill admitted they didn’t know of any cases of abortions being performed here based on gender. But, hey, this was a great way to get some headlines and trumpet a candidate’s moral superiority at election time.
The reporting section of the bill similarly gave lawmakers the opportunity to lovingly insist they’re only looking out for the welfare of women. With lots more data on why abortions are sought, they insisted, they could take steps to prevent them.
But what they really want is to make abortion more difficult to obtain, to harass and intimidate women contemplating the decision, and to engage in political grandstanding. Now that a judge has ruled the measure in question had too many elements, the politicians can have a heyday passing separate new bills containing those elements.
Nothing of much value will have been accomplished, but of course that’s not the objective, is it?
The reporting of abortion act is expected to cost the state $250,000 to implement, according to some reports. Legislators are also claiming that the data compiled will not give away the identity of the woman pursuing an abortion.
Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole,
who voted against all four measures, questioned the cost of
implementing the report. Last year’s bill said it would cost more than
Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa,
the author of the bill, said a cost estimate still is being prepared.
It’s possible, she said, a private firm may be contracted to do the
work, which would be cheaper. Hospitals often use a private firm to
She told Kiesel that only data would be on the report.
"There is absolutely no way anyone could find out the identities of these women,” she said.
Of course, once you fill out a form that can list among other things where you work, if you were assaulted, who you may have filed a police report with, and how many children you have, it may become much easier to narrow it down.
February 23, 2010
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