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Abortion Court Rulings? Ignore Them, Says Oklahoma GOP Gubernatorial Candidate

Ally Boguhn

Dan Fisher insists that government officials should simply disregard any abortion-related court ruling with which they disagree.

If Republican candidate Dan Fisher wins Oklahoma’s 2018 gubernatorial election, he plans to ignore court rulings protecting abortion access.

“If elected, I will do everything in my power to bring this evil to an end and take executive action to ensure that all Oklahomans are equally protected, including the preborn,” the former Oklahoma state representative said in a video posted to his campaign’s YouTube page last week. “I will disregard any unjust rulings or perversions of the U.S. Constitution that claim that there is a right to murder preborn human beings in the womb.”

Fisher said in the video that anti-choice laws passed by Republican lawmakers “really only spell out the requirements for killing a preborn baby,” suggesting that they don’t go far enough. “Every one of these pro-life laws affirm abortion as legal, treat it as an acceptable choice, and seek to regulate the practice. If you think about it, these laws are basically pro-choice.”

“I am not running for governor of Oklahoma as a pro-lifer,” he said. “I am not running to regulate abortion. I am running to abolish it.”

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He called for the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on the matter to be disregarded. “When the courts are wrong they should be ignored,” he said, pointing to the Court’s 1857 decision in Dred Scott to uphold slavery.

Fisher struck a nearly identical tone in late August when he kicked off his bid for the GOP nomination for governor of Oklahoma. At a rally of supporters in Oklahoma City, he called the common medical procedure “murder” and said that “if you accept that abortion is murder, you’ll treat it like murder.” He did not say what the penalties would be for having or providing an abortion, but Rick Carpenter, a spokesperson for Fisher’s campaign, told Rewire that it would be treated “much like your homicide laws.”

Despite no longer holding office, Fisher was present when Oklahomans United for Life visited the state legislature to support the Oklahoma House’s passage of a resolution instructing state officials “to exercise their authority to stop murder of unborn children by abortion.” The text of the measure includes a line recognizing that “procuring or administering a non-life-saving abortion in Oklahoma is a criminal offense,” pointing to two statutes on the books criminalizing abortion in the state.

Those statutes state that receiving abortion care in Oklahoma is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines. 

“In 2018, we’re going to have a new governor, and the governor better enforce the will of the people as expressed in this Resolution today,” Fisher said, according to an email newsletter from Oklahomans United for Life.

The anti-choice group sent a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin (R) after the resolution passeddemanding that the state’s chiefs of police and county sheriffs “station guards at the doors of” abortion clinics to block anyone trying to obtain care. “If these officials refuse to cooperate, you have authority under the Oklahoma Constitution to declare an emergency and direct National Guard personnel or state police officers to carry out your orders,” the letter stated.

Oklahomans United for Life confirmed in an email to Rewire that it has endorsed Fisher’s gubernatorial bid.

During his two terms as a state representative for District 60, Fisher introduced several anti-choice measures including attempts to prohibit certain types of research on human embryos. Eliminating legal abortion in Oklahoma is the first issue listed on Fisher’s campaign website, which includes a call to “turn Oklahoma into the first Abortion-Free-State.”

In a video posted online in July that depicts an appearance at an Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) event, Fisher named abolishing abortion as one of the “four main planks” of his platform. In that same speech, he compared being a “pro-life Republican” in office without acting to end legal abortion to “liv[ing] in a community next to one of the concentration camps in 1944 Germany” and passing laws regulating the camps instead of ending them.

His platform calls for renewed focus on “state sovereignty,” protecting the “rights of gun owners,” and removing regulations on the energy industry.  

Fisher received money in previous campaigns from energy companies, including small donations from Koch Industries, American Electric Power/AEP, and Spectra Energy, according to campaign finance records obtained through the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ database.

Fisher will compete against an increasingly crowded field of Republicans for the party’s nomination to replace Oklahoma’s term-limited governor.

Fallin won re-election in 2014 with nearly 56 percent of votes compared to Democrat Joe Dorman’s 41 percent. The seat is rated “likely Republican” by Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and Roll Call, meaning Republicans have “a substantial advantage, but an upset is still possible.”

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