Rights bill for unborn children passes
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, February 16, 2012
2/16/12 at 7:41 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Senate passed a measure Wednesday that would declare that personhood begins at conception.
Senate Bill 1433 by Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, heads to the House for consideration after securing passage in the Senate by a vote of 34-8. It is the first bill the Senate has passed since returning to session Feb. 6.
"The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state," the measure says.
It includes an assurance that legal action could not be brought against a woman for indirectly harming the unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular prenatal care program.
Crain said the measure would not prohibit contraception or in vitro fertilization. It also would not ban abortion because Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, allows it, he said.
But Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, acknowledged that "this bill is one of many Senate Republicans have advanced which affirms right to life, and I am proud to support it."
An amendment Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, offered to draw attention to what she sees as the sexist nature of the bill did not get heard because of a procedural move by Crain.
Her proposed amendment declared that if a woman became pregnant as the result of a rape, the rapist would undergo a vasectomy, be fined $25,000 and be financially responsible for the resulting child until the child turned 21.
Crain said his bill was requested by Oklahomans for Life. Tony Lauinger, Oklahomans for Life chairman, watched the debate from the Senate gallery.
Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre, D-Tulsa, said it was disturbing that men who want smaller government and less government intrusion are trying to make personal health decisions for women. She said bills such as Crain's are written to get the Republican base to the polls.
"You can get elected without these kind of tactics," McIntyre said.
Crain said the bill was not about getting re-elected. "The unborn have no voice of their own," he said.
Wes Glinsmann, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Medical Association, said his organization opposes the measure.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice also opposes it. Members of the group wore pink and sat in the Senate gallery during the discussion of the bill, which lasted about two hours.
Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, said the bill "is bad for business" and "makes Oklahoma look silly."
While Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne, said it would have several unintended consequences in areas ranging from probate to insurance, Sen. Kim David, R-Wagoner, urged senators not to be swayed by critics using scare tactics.
Original Print Headline: Rights bill for unborn children passes
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465