Correction: This story originally incorrectly quoted Rep. Jim Olsen. The story has been corrected.

Two bills targeting abortion, including one virtually identical to a measure vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin three years ago, advanced from the House Public Health Committee on split votes Tuesday.

House Bill 1182, by Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, would suspend the medical licenses of abortion providers and would likely be challenged in court. It advanced from committee on a vote of 6-4 with two Republicans joining the committee's two Democrats in opposition.

Less controversial was HB 1396 by Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore. It tightens up existing law prohibiting abortion because of the sex of the fetus. Under the new language, the patient involved must attest to either knowing or not knowing the sex of the fetus.

If she does know, "the physician or other person who is performing the abortion shall not perform nor attempt to perform an abortion and shall inform the pregnant woman of the prohibition of abortion as a method of sex selection for children."

Townley's bill apparently does not preclude the abortion altogether, however, because it leaves intact the next passage, which says that abortions for sex-linked genetic disorders are not forbidden.

Olsen, a minister, conceded his bill seeks to penalize people performing legal procedures, but said legislators need to choose between legal and moral.

He acknowledged the bill, should it become law, would likely be challenged in court, but said it wouldn't cost taxpayers anything because it would be defended by the attorney general's office.

"Whether he defends it or not his salary is the same and salary of his staff is the same," Olsen said.

"Would you believe I don’t believe this bill will lower number of abortions?" asked Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan.

"I believe your sincerity but don’t understand why you would believe that," Olsen replied.

McEntire said women will go out of state for abortions.

"The only way to abolish abortion is to end unwanted pregnancy," he said.

"Some women will go out of state," Olsen said, "but I do believe we will save some lives."

Randy Krehbiel


Twitter: @rkrehbiel

Randy has been with the Tulsa World since 1979. He is a native of Hinton, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. Krehbiel primarily covers government and politics. Phone: 918-581-8365

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