Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has vetoed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature that sought to make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions in the state.
In her statement issued Friday (May 20) afternoon, Fallin made it clear she has “a long history of championing and signing pro-life and pro-family legislation,” but said the bill would not have withstood a constitutional challenge.
Senate Bill 1552, carried by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would have made it a felony for doctor to perform abortions, and would have revoked their medical licenses unless the abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother. Dahm told the Associated Press that he believed the law is a step toward overturning Roe v. Wade.
“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,” Dahm told the AP.
But Fallin disagreed.
“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,’” Fallin said in her statement. “The absence of any definition, analysis or medical standard renders this exception vague, indefinite and vulnerable to subjective interpretation and application.”
Continuing, she noted: “While I consistently have and continue to support a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, this legislation cannot accomplish that re-examination. In fact, the most direct path to a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade is the appointment of a conservative, pro-life justice to the United States Supreme Court.”
News of the legislation’s passage in Oklahoma had in recent days garnered national attention. The New York City-based Center for Reproductive Rights sent Fallin a letter on May 19 not only asking her to veto the bill, but chastised the state’s history with respect to women’s health.
“This bill will ban abortion in the state of Oklahoma in contravention of longstanding federal and state constitutional principles as well as basic human rights. This measure is harmful, discriminatory, clearly unconstitutional, and insulting to Oklahoma women and their families,” the organization noted in the letter.
Amanda Allen, senior state legislative counsel for the center, also noted in the letter: “According to a 2014 analysis, Oklahoma is already one of the most restrictive states in the country with respect to abortion access. And yet, Oklahoma ranks dead last in the country on overall indicators of women’s and children’s health and well-being. Policymakers’ time and effort would be better spent on approving and implementing programs that actually support women and children. It is unconscionable for Oklahoma policymakers to continue their laser focus on restricting abortion instead of enacting much-needed policies that truly support the health of women and their families.”