Oklahoma, whose legislature seems to be full of whackos these days, has sent a bill to Governor Mary Fallin’s desk that criminalizes abortions by making it a felony for a doctor to perform one. Those doctors would see their medical licenses suspended, and would face up to three years in prison. This is an unprecedented move, and one of the worst abortion laws imaginable.
The religious right keeps looking for ways around Roe v. Wade, but apparently, Oklahoma wants to take a step towards overturning that court decision altogether. The measure overwhelmingly passed the state House, and then passed the Senate with absolutely no discussion at all. It’s like they were just itching to vote on it and rubbing their hands together gleefully when it finally came over to them.
Representative Nathan Dahm, who introduced the bill, said overturning Roe v. Wade is, in fact, the end goal here:
“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception.”
Notice how he phrased that – “Since I believe.” His intent is to force his beliefs on others. It’s hard not to wonder how many bills he’s sponsored that help children already in this world eat, get decent educations, and have access to good resources if they live in troubled households.
If Gov. Fallin signs it into law, we can expect a flurry of lawsuits from those groups, because this is absurd in its illegality and restriction of women’s rights.
But wait, an anti-choice activist might say. They’re not punishing women, they’re just punishing the doctors. So it’s okay and not a restriction of women’s rights. That’s where they’d be wrong. There’s already a law in Texas before the Supreme Court that, if allowed to stand, would shut down all but 10 of that state’s clinics. Texas claims they aren’t punishing women either, but rather, that they’re helping and protecting women.
However, the high court is considering whether that law places an undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion services, and thus, her right to choose, because so many women would not have access to any abortion clinics. A similar law in Oklahoma is pending before their state’s Supreme Court, and many of their other attempts have been shot down entirely. This new law is far more egregious, because it would end women’s access to abortion everywhere in the state.
There is no getting around that fact. Oklahoma State Senator Ervin Yen, who is a Republican and also a physician, actually called this bill “insane,” and voted against it, and he’s right. So is everyone else who’s against it. It’s not just about women’s rights, it’s also about ending doctors’ rights to do what’s in the best interests of their patients, and threatens the doctor-patient relationship.
Every year, Republicans try to do this, especially in Oklahoma and Texas. These tools need to prove that it is, in fact, life that they care about, and not just birth, or they need to give it a rest already. Or here’s a thought: Perhaps we should just keep religion out of our governing process altogether. How novel.
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