Could pro-life squabbling be a sign?
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, April 28, 2012
5/04/12 at 12:04 PM
This editorial originally contained an error. The editorial has been corrected.
House leaders have shown remarkable courage in standing up to anti-abortion advocates who, even in the view of reliable and proven conservatives, went too far in their latest quest.
It's too soon to conclude whether the leadership's unusual stance is any indication that a modicum of reason has been interjected into Oklahoma's increasingly extreme abortion debate. But there's reason for hope.
The latest development arose earlier in the week when Oklahomans for Life announced that any House members who did not vote for a procedural measure to advance a controversial "personhood" bill would be viewed as making a pro-abortion vote.
Senate Bill 1433, which has passed the Senate, essentially declares that personhood begins at conception. Supporters argue the measure would not affect contraception, fertility treatments or even abortion, but opponents take exactly the opposite view. In truth, nobody knows what legal ramifications would arise from such a measure. The House GOP caucus decided against a floor vote on the bill on the basis it would result in no substantive policy changes.
House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, decried the latest pro-life tactics, declaring that the "threats" to consider "procedural votes as policy votes was too far."
In an email to one of the Oklahomans for Life spokesman, House Speaker Designate T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, put it more bluntly. He told Kevin Calvey, the group's vice chairman and a former House member, that he had "not only disrespected this institution, but you have also demonstrated an utter lack of professionalism and integrity. Your credibility has been damaged to the point that I respectfully request that you do not lobby my office, and you remove me from your correspondence list."
Such strong statements from the next House speaker ought to worry pro-life leaders, and it seems they did.
Calvey backed off the threat to "score" the procedural vote as a pro-abortion vote. And Oklahomans for Life's leader, Tony Lauinger, issued an apology to House GOP members.
"In our zeal to pass Senate Bill 1433, we reached the point this week where our efforts became counterproductive, and for that, I sincerely apologize," he wrote. He termed the effort "poor judgment."
Oklahoma's GOP lawmakers are as pro-life as they come, so it's rare for these forces to squabble like this in public. Is it an indication, as some observers suggest, that the "radical nature" of some pro-life advocates is finally causing some push-back, even among conservatives? Stay tuned.
Original Print Headline: Pushback?